Book Review: Booklife


Jeff Vandermeer

Offering timely advice in an era when the burden of production and publicity frequently falls on authors, this essential reference reflects on methods for being focused, productive, and savvy in the craft of writing. Discussing a wide range of essential topics for self-promoting authors, this important guide explores questions such as How can authors use social media and the internet? How does the new online paradigm affect authors, readers, and the book industry? How can authors find the time to both create and promote their work? and What should never be done? Through good-humored encouragement, practical tips of the trade culled from 25 years of experience as a writer, reviewer, editor, publisher, agent, and blogger are shared. Including topics such as personal space versus public space, deadlines, and networking, the benefits of interacting with readers through new technologies is revealed.

This book is an important read for anyone that is trying to manage or achieve a professional career in writing.  It’s essentially broken into two major sections — your public booklife and your private booklife.  The public section covers everything you need to know about PR — how to interact on social media, how to manage public appearances, and general guidelines to keep in mind when managing the public side of your writing business.  The private section discusses how to strike a healthy balance for demands of your time when writing — including healthy habits, schedules, and work/life balance.

The key thing to remember, though, is that this is a book of guidelines, not rules.  In fact, this book is out of date as far as social media technology is concerned — and Vandermeer acknowledges that very early in the book.  He says something to the effect of “by the time this is in print, the social media landscape will have changed.”  And it has — I don’t know anyone that still uses Second Life, and MySpace, though still around, is on its way out, I think.  And there’s no mention of Goodreads, Pinterest, or Tumblr.  Even if Vandermeer were to create an updated edition that covered all the latest social media, it would still be outdated by the time it reached print, as the internet evolves at lightning speed.

Instead, the real jewel in this book are those guidelines.  Vandermeer provides advice and experience on interacting with the public, sometimes using examples from his social media strategies.  These provide a clear approach that can be picked up and moved to the latest social media and applied effectively.

This is a book about being professional.  Given that writing can often be a solitary activity — one person typing away at the computer in an empty home office, a book about how to be a professional is crucial.  In a regular workplace where an employee interacts with coworkers all day, it’s easy to pick up professionalism from the workplace culture.  It’s a lot harder at home where there are no coworkers and no workplace culture.  Vandermeer encourages writers to take themselves, and their approach to writing, as a professional endeavour.  After all, even if a writer views their work as art, it’s unlikely to get very far if the writer doesn’t also treat it like a professional business.


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Filed under Book Reviews, Reading

One response to “Book Review: Booklife

  1. Pingback: What I Read in 2013 | Cameron D James

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