Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer by Jeff VanderMeer (9781892391902): Tachyon Publications (2009)
Most writing books focus on technique–the nuts and bolts of writing. Some even detail the ins and outs of publishing. But what sets Booklife apart from these other books is its focus on the writing life. It is decidedly not a how-to book, but more of a written coach on the creation and maintenance of, for lack of a better term, your Booklife.
The first third of the book focuses on your public life as an author: leveraging social media and other forms of 21st Century communication to get your “book” (be it a novel, a non-fiction book, a blog, a podcast, whatever project you’ve devoted your creative energies toward) out there; the do’s and don’ts of self-promotion; publicity and marketing in publishing; creating networks of contacts; and other advice focused primarily on the work. The second third of the book discusses your private life as an author: dealing with despair, envy, and other distractions; finding inspiration and being receptive; testing your work; and other important practices for creators. The final third of the book is made up of the appendices, which are mostly essays by various experts and experienced folks that reinforce the topics covered in the main portion of the book.
One of the biggest themes of the books is BALANCE. VanderMeer emphasizes repeatedly the need to strike a balance between the public and private Booklife–and to err in favor of the private. This sense of moderation and balance is a through-line for the book. It is also important to note that most of the advice given in the book boils down to common sense approaches to dealing with people. Your Booklife, despite the many hours spent alone churning out words, is a collaborative effort requiring the support of a network of people–treat them shabbily at your peril.
For both novice and experienced writers, Booklife is highly inspirational, thought-provokingly humane, and highly recommended.