I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing career trajectories, the paths writers choose, the goals we set, and the growth we experience.
I’ve also been thinking about how speeded up things are getting and how this need for speed can put a lot of stress and strain on writers.
The Internet has been a boon to us, bringing us the ability to connect with like-minded others around the world. But from an evolutionary perspective, I don’t know how prepared we are for all of this and I wonder what the long-term implications are for the writing life.
There is one thing I do know for sure: we all need to break out of the group mind once in a while and assess where we have been, where we are, and where we are going from a very personal point of view.
Like the columnists you read here ten times a year, the best writers have always been capable of thinking their own thoughts and expressing them in a way that is unique to them.
But lose this ability to the rush and the grind and, as a writer, you pretty much lose everything.
For me, it’s important to maintain a balance between serving the group and serving myself and my family. And after creating a goodly amount of success over the past several years, it sure feels good to carve out a little time for self-reflection and planning this summer. Even after just a few weeks of slowing down, I sense the future coming into clearer focus.
I hope you will give yourself gift of time this summer.
You work hard. You deserve it.
Make good things happen,
Archive for the 'Dear Fellow Writers' Category
I’ve just returned from the Writer’s Digest/BEA Conference and Book Expo America back-to-back.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable experience speaking to writers looking to develop platforms in two sessions, selling out copies of Get Known Before the Book Deal that were on hand, listening to thriller author Karin Slaughter and former Publisher’s Weekly editor Sara Nelson, seeing all the folks from the Writer’s Digest Publishing Community including publisher (and my former editor) Jane Friedman, touching base with some agents I know, and having a chance to hang out with a couple of former students.
At Book Expo America, I enjoyed several days of education about the publishing industry. I was able to see where publishing stands today (more or less since the show was smaller this year and some houses were not represented at all) by touring the entire floor of the Jacob K. Javits Center. I bumped into or met lots of booksellers, librarians, editors, agents, writers, and authors and just generally tried to get as much out of the experience as possible so I could pass on what I learned to my readers and students.
I was able to add my several days of immersion at BEA to all that I had already heard and learned at the Tools of Change Conference in February and I’ve drawn several conclusions for writers looking to grow skill sets and expand careers that will survive in the new, complicated future of publishing that is already upon us.
For rising writers, it’s often hard to know how to prioritize our time each day to grow a writing career, especially if that time is already limited. I’ve posted my observations in my Get Known Before the Book Deal blog (here). I hope you will read it and take my hard-won observations to heart when you are planning for 2010.
I always want writers to succeed because writers are my tribe. I have been serving writers for many years but the only writers I can really assist are those who are willing to work hard and consistently and take 100% responsibility for their efforts.
In other words, it isn’t about you or me; it’s about us. And the people who understand this are going to stay healthy and vital and the people who don’t are quite likely to leave the playing field. We are watching the walls melt in the publishing industry. But this isn’t the end, really, it’s more like a new beginning for those who can stand navigate shifting ground.
It is my pleasure to help writers make good choices and help you work hard towards goals that are for everyone’s highest good. I feel like all the time, energy and money that I have invested to stay current is a huge advantage for every student I work with and I look forward to updating they way I work to keep up with changing times.
Whenever you feel unsure about which way to go, I hope you will remember the motto…
Make good things happen,
@thewritermama on Twitter
Please note: June 14th is your last chance to pick up Writer’s Digest with a special platform section. June 30th is your last chance to sign up for August classes at reduced prices. And my June Webinar for Writer’s Digest has been moved to October. Keep reading for more details.
When I reread my column for “Reasons to Write” in this month’s issue, something wonderful happened: I remembered my own career trajectory as the right path for me.
So what the heck, let’s start this issue with the tail-end. Here’s the conclusion to my column, “Write to Sustain Yourself.”
I teach writers how to name, claim and build a writing career that projects their personal integrity into the world. We can’t control what the world will do with that projection once it has been made. Truly, we can’t.
The Internet is becoming increasingly like a circus fun house for writers complete with distorting mirrors and rotating hallways. I admit it, I can’t keep up. Do I even want to keep up? Do you?
Sure, I keep my toe in the water while I continue my own work because that’s the way it needs to be. I continue to feel that face-to-face and ongoing relationships are the most meaningful and the healthiest for my career. And if I make an occasional connection via Internet that’s an extra bonus.
So if you are feeling befuddled by this period of mass systems change in the publishing industry, why not use this time to go within and become clear about what you are writing and why? Use this time to clarify your goals and continue to go after them in a sober, measured way. Don’t get sucked into the online fun house…at least not for very long.
In some ways, everything about the field of professional writing has changed. And in other ways, nothing has changed. The skill sets and principles that I have developed and teach still work, not just for me, but for my persistent students, as well.
So enough with being distracted by the siren call of change. I’m going to practice what I preach and trust the true and steady path that is right in front of me. It hasn’t failed me yet.
I think the true and steady path is a pretty sure one, no matter what you write and no matter what else is going on.
Make good things happen!
Publisher and Editor
Last month, I worked my tail off. I visited thirty-one blogs, wrote thirty-one new 500-word pieces, mailed scads of books and bumper stickers (only a few left to go!), and just generally wore myself out on top of everything else I usually do.
This month, I’m planting seeds in the form of little requests for your assistance. I hope they blossom into some big ol’ sunflowers by August.
I want to ask you to help me serve you better. I’ve made a decision to choose quality, not quantity. To not be so fixated on content that I forget the importance of context. And to dig deeper within myself instead of skimming across the surface with too many items on my to-do list.
This summer, I might even (gasp!) take a vacation or two and restock the creative well. They don’t call it spring cleaning for nothing, writers! I’m starting with the inside…and trusting that the outside will follow.
And now, here’s where YOU come in. I need to ask for your assistance on many fronts:
I’m Seeking An Administrative Assistant: I will mentor this person in his or her witing career in exchange for 10-20 / week of administrative work. This is a perfect opportuntiy for someone who is not feeling a money crunch right now but realizes that they can benefit both by assiting me and through my consultations on writing for publication and platform development. This is job for a nonfiction writer, since nonfiction writing is my specialty. The right person for this position will be organized, conscientious, and cheerful about administrative work. Beginning fall 2009, this person will have access to free classes with me. Details will be negotiated upon selection. A minimum one-year commitment is required. Please do not apply if this does not describe you. Send a short cover note and a resume to me at: email@example.com. Resumes will be accepted for the rest of the month. The postion begins May 1st.
I Need Help With Book Promotion: More people than ever have been asking me for free help or input or advice since my book came out. As many of you know, I love reconnecting with my former students and am usually quick and generous with advice. Teaching as much as I do is very satisfying, especially when some of my former students are getting book deals and having books published (see these pictures from Sage Cohen’s book tour for Writing the Life Poetic). However, when you add travel and book promotion to writing, teaching and speaking, that’s when I start to feel the pinch. But how can I not go? I love to reach out and meet new writers. Over the years, I have answered literally hundreds of requests for assistance. Now I could really use five minutes of your time. Could you…
Ask Your Library to Order My Books!
Libraries are busy right now and therefore overdue fines are up and most have money to order new books. But they will likely only order books specifically requested by patrons. The good news is once you request my book through your library, it will probably go into the county or regional library loan program, which means everyone in your area can read it. If your library already has them: mission accomplished. Move on to the next way you can help.
Post Rave Reviews of My Books Online!
I’d love to be everywhere online. And let’s face, I’m a lot places. If you Google “Christina Katz” the pages go to Timbuktu. But the thing is, people don’t want to hear from me how great my stuff is: they want to hear it from YOU! And if you don’t get to them first, one unfortunate result I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing lately, is that some unhappy people would just love to spew their sour grapes in my direction. And when this happens, I have absolutely no recourse.
So, here’s what I ask: If you love my books and you have not yet posted this fact in writing online, NOW is the time to do it. The economy is down, the publishing industry is taking a big hit, and my books are impacted by this environment whether I like it or not. So no matter how good my intentions and how how hard I worked, if my readers don’t champion my books, they will fade away. And that would stink. Because I hear from people every day who love my books. If you are one of them, could you shout it from the rooftops online?
Support Independent Bookstores!
Ever since I started doing Amazon spikes, independent bookstore sellers have been asking me, “What have you done for US, lately?” I know you all know that I love libraries, but did you know that booksellers really need our support right now? In fact, booksellers are so pinched that they are sending books back to publishers much faster than they used to in order to only stock books that will move quickly. (Yes, that’s mostly celebrity stuff and the classics.) Mother’s Day is coming right up and Father’s Day is right after that. If you don’t have my books already, please consider purchasing them through your independent bookseller (or any booksellers, they are ALL hurting). If you already own them, please pass the message on to your readers (see below). I’d really appreciate it and so would booksellers.
Spread Enthusiasm About My Books to Key People!
Are you a journalist? A blogger? An e-zine editor? I have quotes, content, and interviews, which I’m happy to turn over to you and all you have to do in exchange is post my bio and link back to my sites. If you are none of the above, could you please tell a reviewer or a journalist or a book reviewer or anyone you think might be interested, how much you like my books? They are inundated with requests for reviews, so they are likely to appreciate your help vetting titles. No time? Try using Facebook or Twitter to buzz my books. If you are already on there it takes practically no time.
Long story short: if my books have ever supported you, could you now put your shoulder behind them and PUSH?
Thank you! Your assistance crosses many things off my to-do list, which allows me to concentrate on serving the work I do that best serves you. I appreciate your support!
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming, at a level of quality that I so enjoy bringing to you. Thanks for subscribing–and supporting!
Make good things happen!
Publisher and Editor
We’ve got lots of exciting news this month, writers!
First, I’m celebrating the two-year anniversary of Writer Mama (can you believe it?) with a blog tour giveaway. Every day in March, I tell a portion of the Writer Mama story in a different blog and give away a book to one person who comments. It’s not too late to submit your blog for consideration. The cut off date to submit is Sunday, March 15th.
Second, March 17th is Sage Cohen’s Amazon spike day for her forthcoming book, Writing the Life Poetic from Writer’s Digest Books. I’ve got the very first signed copy in my hands and it is a beauty! Every once in awhile, the designers at Writer’s Digest Books go all out. And with the help of Sage’s illustrator friend, Gregoire Vion, and an embossed four-color design, this baby is a work of art! Please help Sage midwive her first traditionally published book into the world by purchasing your copy on March 17th with me!
And finally, columnist Abigail Green welcomes baby #2 into the family. And I quote from her blog, Diary of a New Mom: Baby Riley came into the world in just under 8 hours, weighing in at just under 8 lbs. Congratulations to Abby and her whole family!
Abby’s essay, “Belly Flop,” about adjusting to her postpartum figure, appeared in the February 2009 issue of American Baby. Just in time for her to adjust again!
Make good things happen!
Quick Note About Classes That Begin Wednesday, March 11th: This will be the LAST opportunity to take Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff and Pitching Practice at the low-low price of $199. I decided not to raise prices over the 2008 holiday season and halfway into the New Year. But, for example, the food I buy for one dog alone has gone up twelve bucks. Class prices will bump up beginning in August 2009. I’ve already bumped up the prices on coaching. I’ll post the new class prices soon. Class registration and the full 2009 calendar, including classes with other highly qualified instructors, has moved to www.christinakatz.com.
Fall in love with writing again is this month’s slogan. You might think that I mean stare out the window, or take a nice long walk and think about writing, or imagine lots of people reading your words.
Show me a writer hunched over the notebook or the laptop writing. Working. Crossing out lines. Finding the thread. Balling up paper and throwing it across the room. Pacing. Even staring out the window, if that’s what it takes to get the job done. And I’ll show you what I love.
I’ve become a lot more practical about writing over the years and in this month’s column, I discuss the difference between how I used to think about writing and how I think today.
And on this Valentine’s Day, I am pleased that I have not only been able to turn my dream of authorhood into reality, but I have played a small part in helping other writers’ dreams come true, too.
The dreams, I’m referring to, of course, require a heck of a lot of focus, determination, and hard work. This is something I could not fully comprehend in my twenties. (It’s okay, my ideas about romance were pretty off-base back then as well.)
And since we are talking about writing for love this month, let me just say what I love best: I love writers who are willing to work, preferably hard and consistently (insert sound of cracking whip here).
After eight years of working with writers, I want to send a Valentine to those who have been willing to make a real commitment to their writing careers and then follow through. Writing success is, after all, really about what you do with your abilities, not about the abilities you have when you set out on the path.
I guess you could say that I’m in love with the dream that you will be holding your own published work in your hands in the near future. But I love the dream even more when I see it become a reality.
And this Valentine’s Day, I hope you too fall in love. And I hope what you fall in love with is your work.
Make good things happen!
Publisher and Editor
Announcement: The next round of classes begins on March 11th. We are offering a new class this Spring on writing for online markets with Jen Applin. Check it out! Also Sage Cohen’s Poetry for the People class is back! Registration and the full year’s calendar has moved to www.christinakatz.com.
Tags: Thirsty by Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, Writers on the Rise
2009 is here and good things are happening. I’ve just been invited to O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in NYC, where I will lead a round-table discussion, blog about the conference, and learn a ton about the future of publishing. What an amazing opportunity!
On my way home, I’ll swing through Chicago to attend The Associated Writing Programs annual conference, which is co-sponsored this year by my alma mater, Columbia College Chicago. I can’t wait to see my old teachers!
Within one week, I’ll have the opportunity to network with hundreds of publishers and educators, who are all gearing up for the exciting future that we are all going to co-create together. I’m sure the experience will impact my plans and help me make the kinds of technology and teaching improvements I’d hoped to accomplish in 2009.
Since this is a New Year, I’m sure you have been thinking about your good intentions for 2009, too. What kinds of plans are you making to take your writing career to the next level? Do you need any help? What kind of help do you need? I hope you will turn to Writers on the Rise for the kind of quality advice you’ve come to expect over the years.
I’ve assembled an amazing team of contributors and we’ve got a line up of how-to topics that include all the most saleable forms of writing: fiction, essays, writing for radio, profiles and poetry. You’ll see mostly familiar faces and one new face, which belongs to Laura Bridgwater, whom we are pleased to welcome into the Writers on the Rise fold.
If you are looking for some of your favorite columns, they may have moved to one of my other e-zines. For example, Gigi Rosenberg was kind enough to take the helm as managing editor at the Get Known Groove and Gregory Kompes has moved over there, as well. As for me, I’m excited to officially announce that I’ve expanded my e-publications in 2009 to include three e-zines with seven contributors each:
The Writer Mama: Focus on the needs of writing moms, goes out the second Monday each month
Get Known Groove: Focus on platform development, goes out the third Monday each month
Lest you think I’m not doing anything on the fourth Monday of the month, that’s when I send out the announcement for the next speaker in the Northwest Author Series (this month it’s me). Please join the list if you are local! You can subscribe to all the lists at www.christinakatz.com. (Simply add your e-mail to the box in the upper right hand corner and a screen will pop up that will allow you to choose the e-zines you’d like to join.)
I think Writers on the Rise is kicking off the year stronger than ever (I think this every year, of course). I want to especially thank Cindy Hudson for taking over as managing editor of Writers on the Rise. (Sage Cohen still writes a column here and has been gracious enough to step over as managing editor of The Writer Mama e-zine.) I’m very blessed to be able to work with such talented editors to help bring you the quality of writing you’ve come to expect. (But if you see a mistake, it was probably thanks to me, not any of them.)
One thing that Sage always comments on, when the e-zine goes out, is how many of our contributors have ascended the ranks over the years from writer to author. And bah-bah-bah-BAH! I’m pleased to announce that it has happened again!
Can Klara rise above her circumstances and lay claim to her own peaceful spot in the world? Look for Thirsty in Fall 2009 to find out!
Thanks for helping us applaud Kristin and this wonderful stride forward in her literary career! She’s also on Facebook. And so is Writers on the Rise! I’ve created a fan page for us. If you are a fan, I hope you will swing by and chime in.
In the old days, I used to sign off, “In the writing spirit,” but I’ve decided to change to a new motto for 2009…
Make good things happen!
Publisher and Editor
Announcement: Classes will be at the bottom of the newsletter this year. Please note that there is still room in all of the January classes. Registration for classes has moved to www.christinakatz.com. Thanks! Stay tuned for new classes as the year goes along!