Anna David reads from Party Girl at Book Soup in L.A. on Friday, June 8th from 7-9 pm. See below for details (hint: there will be booze).
It’s a big day for instructor and friend of the ‘bistro Anna David, who recently stirred the soup with a NYT Modern Love column. Her first novel, Party Girl, has arrived. We checked in with her about writing, partying, and writing about partying.
What was the inspiration for your book?
When I got sober a little over six years ago, my first job was working for Premiere magazine, doing a column called “Party Girl.” It was ironic, of course, that I’d been a party girl my entire life and no one had ever asked me to write a column by that name, and as soon as I realized I had an actual problem and put the substances down, I was essentially given this moniker. While that column covered premieres and award shows and was essentially just a different way to quote celebrities, it occurred to me years later that a great set-up for a story would be for a newly sober alcoholic to be given a column where she has to document her risquÃ© adventures and thus have to create a persona based on who she used to be. I’d read all the memoirs about alcoholism and drug addiction — and absolutely loved a few of them — but I felt like a novel, where I could create a character similar to how I was pre-sobriety, and then make fun of myself and how delusional my thinking used to be, was a better approach to take.
We’ve had at least two panel discussions in the last five years about what it takes to put anthologies together. As a moderator, I’ve noticed all successful anthologies share one component: a passionate editor who has a deep connection to the book’s topic. Jessica Berger Gross had that special connection topic with the subject of the anthology she edited, About What Was Lost: Twenty Writers on Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope (Plume). The book features contributions from writers like Pam Houston, Joyce Maynard, and Caroline Leavitt.
“When my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage,” says Jessica, “I was shattered by feelings of loss. Although as many as one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, this is something many women didn’t talk openly about. Pregnancy books tend to ignore the topic. I began writing about my experience and an essay turned into an idea for an anthology. About What Was Lost is the book I wanted to find in the bookstore after my miscarriage.”
About the editing process, Jessica says, “It was important for me to respect the deeply personal nature of these pieces when offering my editorial feedback to my contributors. In the end, I became close with many of them because of the intimate nature of the anthology.” Part of her understanding on how to deal with writers comes from her experience on the other side of the desk. She’s contributed essays to the anthologies It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters, edited by Andrea Buchanan, and Why I Stopped Speaking to My Parents, forthcoming from Rebecca Walker.
Jessica credits a 2003 Boot Camp journalism class with some of her success. “Before Boot Camp, I had written for several publications,” says the contributor to Salon and Yoga Journal, among others. “[Instructor] Lew Harris helped me improve the quality of my queries and become more confident in communicating with magazine editors.”
If you’re in New York, you can catch a reading from Jessica’s book on June 12 at McNally Robinson. Details are here.
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From the Society of Midland Authors Newsletter: publicity tips from Tom Ciesielka:
It’s true that interacting with the media takes organization, skill and innovation. Training, research methods, and pitching techniques also help. However, what you rarely hear from publicists is that at heart, PR is a lot simpler than you might think. It is basically the art of building relationships to spread ideas.
Although simple, these relational rules are key in connecting with the media and building the relationships to help you get the coverage you deserve.
Say “Please” and “Thank You.” Like most people, media contacts don’t like rudeness. While it’s important to be direct, take a friendly tone and make sure to let them know you appreciate their time and attention.
Ask First, Make Pitches Later. Show consideration by asking your contact what he or she is looking for at the time. Instead of just throwing your thoughts at the media, listen and offer your book or your ideas as a helpful resource.
Keep in Touch. Polite persistence is crucial in building a rewarding relationship with the media. Drop regular notes when you see information they might be interested in or to ask what they are working on. This keeps you “top of mind” when they need a comment on your area of expertise.
More advice here.
What’s it like when a reading group guide is written up for your book? Katharine Weber recounts her experience on Salon.
For those of you with manuscripts out with your agents or editors, according to the Rejecter, you won’t be hearing back until the second or third week in January. Sorry.
I think we can all agree, stupid people are everywhere. Even in publishing. Especially in publishing! And nothing makes putative authors’ blood boil more than hearing about a six-figure deal based on a gimmick, a movie, a (god forbid) blog, or something else that doesn’t smack of years and years workshop-attending, literary-magazine courting, and MFA-garnering. What are these publishers thinking, doling out (comparatively) measly advances to mid-career writers who’ve spent years honing their craft and then shelling out the big bucks to whatever corporation is putting together BoratSecret?
Well, they’re thinking about the bottom line — and here’s why their approach makes sense (well, as much as anything ever does)
(from Unsolicited at Gawker).
The old rules don’t apply anymore, says Linda Formichelli at Writer’s Digest. So what’s an author gotta do to get noticed around here?
Pity the poor American publishing company. After all, you, Mr. Author, aren’t the only one struggling in a competitive marketplace. Publishers churn out thousands of books each year, hoping for a hit, but seven out of 10 new trade books in the United States lose money. Big-chain bookstores order just enough of each book to test the waters and can return anything that doesn’t sellâ€”without paying a dime. Used books are more accessible than ever on the Internet.
Are you weeping yet? How about this: All of the above means that publishers are looking much harder at their bottom lines. And that means your brilliant oeuvre will be scrutinized to make sure it’ll rake in the dollars.
OK, forget about the publishers. You’ve clearly got your own problems. Like: So how the hell do you get published in this kind of environment? Far be it from us to tell you to think outside the box. (We hate that stupid saying.) But you may have to take matters into your own hands and be a little … rebellious. There are a lot of creative-without-embarrassing-yourself ways to get published and get the word out about your books. But you have to know what you’re dealing with today, and how to work the system.
Read her advice here.
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