Jun 30

Reasons Why I Am Buying / Not Buying Your Book

book blue 300I’m buying your book because:

  • You are my close friend.
  • You are my former student or client.
  • The subject interests me.
  • I’ve read the first page and want to read more.
  • I’ve got the cash on me.
  • I want to encourage you to write more.
  • No one else is buying it and I’m embarrassed for you.
  • You’re selling it at a discount.
  • I was present at your reading and enjoyed the reading.
  • A pity purchase might put me in your good graces.

Apr 02

Writing an Author a Fan Letter

More than 30 years ago I received a pair of life-changing books that I read and annotated to pieces so I had to buy fresh copies, that I still read and re-read and use with pleasure, and finally a few weeks ago I emailed the author the fan letter. This was a cookbook author. (Cookbooks are the one kind of book I would never want as e-books only. I love love love them, and especially those by this author.)

I told the author how much the books have meant to me, what recipes I liked and how they helped sustain me and friends in good times and in lean times. I did not expect a reply, but she wrote that I made her day, and so on. If you have ever received an appreciative letter about your work, you know how it refreshes you. This was the thought finally drove me to take a minute and send my fellow writer, the cookbook author, my long-overdue verbal bouquet. I recommend this. It feels like a deposit in the Bank of Good Karma.

What I don't recommend is trying to establish a correspondence. A real writer is going to be too busy writing to be your penpal. (OMG, who remembers "penpals"??) I sent then-Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens my article about a TV show on which he had written another opinion. He wrote me back to say he appreciated my point of view. (I was amazed he had received, opened and read my letter at all.) I wrote him back but did not hear from him again. This wasn't rude. He's a writer.
Jan 22

The Future of Writing: Read Locally

The latest issue of Creative Nonfiction, #31, is about the Future of Writing.

In the future, says one of the essayists, Astro Teller, huge omnimedia publishers will publish and mass-market seven books a year. People will buy and read them. But readers will be far wiser about the string-pulling and adthink that goes on behind those books. They will want to do a new thing: seek writing directly from the writer, guaranteed no middleman -- the Real Thing, the Genuine Item, pure and honest. It will be "in" to "read locally."

Writers will still want to write and sell one of those seven big bestselling books. There will be more writers, which means more competition. But you won't be looking for an audience; the audience will look for you. Books will rise to the top by choice of the readership, not the publishers. Local will be cool. And with no middleman, you will get 100 percent, not 10 or 15 percent, of what your writing earns.