When I worked at Writer’s Digest, we typically published books in three key categories:
- how to write better (craft & technique)
- how to get published
- inspiration / self-help
This last category I always felt wary of; it encompasses your bestsellers and worstsellers. It’s about the stuff that surrounds the actual writing, such as how to balance the demands of authorship with other demands in your life—or how to make sure you write in the first place. It often tackles the psychological battles.
Such territory is incredibly subjective and very personality-driven.
That’s why I like this 30-point list from David James Poissant—How to Balance Writing, Family, Work, and Life: An Unhelpful Guide for the Perplexed—which plays on our desire for this type of advice, but also on the paradoxes that lie within it. For example, a few items:
7. Throw away your television.
16. Okay, don’t throw away your television. You’ll miss it when the tornado’s on the way. But, at least, like, unsubscribe from premium cable.
30. Results vary. Side effects range from obscurity to the Nobel Prize.
Also this month at Glimmer Train: Revision as Therapy: I Didn’t Understand My Book Until After I Sold by Matthew Salesses
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.