What is the job of a writer? Being honest.

What is the job of a writer?

  • To sell tons of copies?
  • To win awards?
  • To write a book a year?
  • To make a living?
  • To teach others how to write?
  • To finish a novel?
  • To SELL a novel?

From my point of view, yes, your job as a professional writer is to sell copies (among other things) so you can continue writing.

But how do you do that? You connect with readers.

I think the job of a writer is to be more honest than the rest of us.

The books that connect with people are entertaining, make us forget about real life…are fun, are serious, are what readers expect from you.

When you tell honest stories that are more poignant than readers expect, and more poignant than we see our own lives–that’s writing.

When writers ask me what I’m looking for when I sign up new writers, I say I’m looking for really honest writing. Sure you need a novel with a great premise, a plot, and memorable characters–but so much of that comes from believable writing and honest stories and characters. I want to put down a novel feeling like I know more about myself and the world I’m in.

My favorite honest novels:

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng

THE VACATIONERS by Emma Straub

AFTER I DO by Taylor Jenkins Reid

ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes

ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell

ONE DAY by David Nicholls

LABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard

SEATING ARRANGEMENTS by Maggie Shipstead

IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan

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Q: What do you think the job of a writer is? 

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Why Writers Must Be Readers

ImageI often get asked, how does someone become a better writer? My answer is always to read more, more, more.

Here are the reasons why writers must be voracious readers:

  • Attention to detail – People who read a lot learn grammar, spelling, dialogue and more from books.
  • Knowing what’s going on in your genre – Over 200,000 books are traditionally published in the U.S. in any given year. Do you know what’s out there in yours?
  • Comparison titles – When it comes time to get an agent can you compare and contrast your writing within your own genre? What types of books should yours be placed beside in a bookstore?
  • Gaps in the marketContinue reading Why Writers Must Be Readers

Which author’s career do you want to model yours after?

I ask this question of my authors from time to time.

Not to duplicate someone else’s path, but to emulate their successful trajectory and get a good idea of where they think their own career is going–and to make sure this matches my vision for their career.

Examples

Margaret Atwood: Writer of serious nonfiction, fiction, literary advocate and champion of libraries.

Jeffrey Eugenidies: Write one book every ten years.

Harper Lee: Write one timeless book.

Danielle Steel: Write one book a year. Continue reading Which author’s career do you want to model yours after?

Why Winning Awards Helps Author Recognition

In the spirit of awards season I want to delve into the facts behind literary prizes, how they help sell nominated copies, build author brands, generate publicity, sell backlist editions and how rising writers can use this information to their advantage.

The biggest literary prize is arguably the Man Booker Prize whose shortlist was announced yesterday. The prize does more than award prestige–and a smart sum of  £50,000–to the winner. The award is a publicity machine sparking debate, bets, reviews and interviews for the finalists. The prize nominations sets the tone for the fall publishing season, acts as a shopping list for avid readers of literary fiction, not only selling copies of the author’s current work but also backlist works to inquisitive minds coming across nominated authors for the first time. Continue reading Why Winning Awards Helps Author Recognition