Taking Stock of the Books That Brought Me Here

My husband and I recently moved out of the one-bedroom condo we’d been trying to sell for the past two and a half years and into a four-bedroom house 10 minutes away.

On moving day, I was giddy at the sight of the boxes upon boxes (upon boxes) of books that made their way to my new home office. Reunited at last! I thought, as they had been in storage this entire time. My TBR pile was ridiculous — and my Amazon Wish List was eight pages long — but I was suddenly seized by the desire to re-read every single book in those boxes.

Yesterday, I finally got the chance to open up those boxes and place my books on the gorgeous new double bookcase my husband and brother strong-armed into place against the wall. (I think it’s actually supposed to be a china cabinet, but watch me not care.) As I alphabetized my books by author’s last name, I was mindful of the limited space I had, and of how my collection of books might grow in the future.

Several weeks ago, I received a review copy of Jane Mount’s My Ideal Bookshelf. Mount paints “portraits of people through the spines of their favorite books: the ones that changed your life, that defined who you are, that you read again and again.” I had admired Mount’s artwork for years, and had been coveting my own custom painting. Getting my hands on a copy of the book — filled with the ideal bookshelves of a slew of notable creatives — allowed me to at least experience a vicarious thrill.

Flipping through the book, and reading the accompanying first-person essays by the book owners, also made me think about why we love the books we love, and how they change the course of our lives. What would be on my ideal bookshelf? How could I possibly pare down my collection to the handful of books that truly define me as a person? [Read more…]

The Circuitous Route from Pitch to Publish

I once took a non-credit, continuing education class at the New School called From Pitch to Publish. It was about developing and pitching personal essays and narrative journalism pieces to print publications, but I feel the simplicity of the name hints at the vision many of us have of the book publishing process, too:

1. Develop idea.

2. Write proposal.

3. Pitch agents.

4. Get agent.

5. Pitch publishers.

6. Get publisher.

7. … or don’t. The End.

In reality, the journey can be far more circuitous.

Awhile back, I shared this story on a pair of authors who got their book published… eventually. As I work on my own book, I’m also finding that the process is not as straightforward as I once expected. Instead of simply facing the possibility of publishing or not publishing my book, I find my book… changing. [Read more…]

How to Make Your Marketing Copy POP!

Despite being a writer — and a writer who once worked her way up the corporate ladder in the marketing department of an academic book publisher, no less — writing effective marketing copy for my own small business is still a struggle for me.

Because of this, I’ve spent a lot of time poring through business books and marketing how-tos, and even took one of Dave Navarro‘s workshops in order to revamp the sales page for my career coaching business.

My latest read? Sam Horn’s POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline for Anything. A marketing book written to help readers connect with customers, it’s not just about marketing — it’s about branding as a whole.

I was skeptical about this book when, within the first 40 pages, Horn held up both the Daddle and the Smitten as examples of fantastic branding. After all, both products are pretty ridiculous, and people regularly make fun of them. (Check out the Amazon reviews for the Daddle. Absolute comedy gold.) Could I really take advice from someone whose paragons of branding were so corny?

But as I read on, I realized that Horn was actually pretty brilliant. [Read more…]

Selling Your First Book: A Checklist of Book Proposal Essentials

I’ve been a woman on a mission lately. In between assigned blog posts and essays, coaching calls, and yoga classes, I’ve been slowly pulling together a book proposal with the aim of sending it out to a handful of agents by the end of November.

So why would I take time away from everything else in order to focus on another large project… one that may very well come to nothing?

1. I love adding new things to the mix.

2. After ghostwriting and collaborating on ebooks for other clients, I really want to have something of my own out there. Heck, I’ve dreamed of being an author since the age of 5.

Luckily, I’ve worked in book publishing before, where one of my responsibilities was weeding through book proposals and sending them around for review. So I know a thing or two about what goes into a proposal. I also picked up some additional tips from this nifty book I read, and from Susan Shapiro, who regularly runs book publishing panels.

But maybe you’ve never seen a book proposal before. Maybe your book is still just a germ of an idea in your head, and you’re completely clueless about where to start. For all the book publishing newbies out there, here’s the book proposal checklist I use with clients, and which I also used to put my own proposal together: [Read more…]

Do You Want To Join The Freelancedom Book Club?

My idea of the perfect afternoon.

The other day, I participated in a book club gathering at my favorite local coffee shop. It was my first time, and I was nervous about inserting myself into a group of people I didn’t know, but they were discussing Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle — one of my favorite books — so I couldn’t resist.

I ended up having a lovely time, and it made me think about the way I cover books here on Freelancedom.

I mean, writing a book review is all well and good.  But wouldn’t it be way more fun to have a virtual book club discussion?

[Read more…]

Why I Turned Up My Nose At The Kindle

A dramatic reenactment of my childhood...

Back in October and November, family members started fishing for Christmas gift ideas, despite the fact that I already had an Amazon Wish List that was four pages long.

“Are you still against getting an e-reader?” asked my sister-in-law, as she showed off her Kindle in its pretty pink case with the built-in book light. “What do you think about the Nook versus the Kindle?” asked my brother, later admitting that he was trying to get a feel for whether or not he should buy me one or the other.

I fiddled with my SIL’s Kindle, admitting that it was pretty neat… yet not for me. I told my brother about what I’d read on sites like Gizmodo and Engadget, and then declared my intention to avoid e-readers altogether. I tried to explain why I wanted to keep buying books, despite the fact that I was struggling with a lack of shelf space. I waved my hands around, trying to convey something indefinable, mentioning things like smell and wraparound bookshelves.

[Read more…]

Breakneck Book Report: How To Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead

ariel gore famous writer

It was a long time coming, but I’m finally comfortable with telling people I’m a writer, rather than someone who just “writes on the side.”

A famous writer, however? Perhaps in the eensiest of eensy weensy circles. Obviously, it was time I read Ariel Gore’s How To Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead.

[Read more…]

Breakneck Book Report: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird


Back in April, I posted a monster roundup of the 20 books I built my freelance life upon. Readers (and writers, obvs) were quick to point out that I had made an egregious omission by not including Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

The truth is, I had plumb forgot about it because, long ago, I lent my copy to someone else, and it was never returned.

Recently, I bought myself a new copy, and immediately fell in love all over again.

[Read more…]

The 4-Hour Workweek: Brilliant or Bonkers?


Reading Timothy Ferriss‘s The 4-Hour Workweek was like being on an emotional roller coaster.

I’d read a line like “Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty” and think Man! This guy knows where it’s at! Then I’d read about his empty and meaningless kickboxing win due to manipulated technicalities, or his distaste for reading, and want to throttle him.

Is he a genius? Or is he just plain ridiculous? Perhaps a bit of both. After the jump, I explore the aspects of his book that made me think.

[Read more…]

Why It Helps To Review the Basics


Check out this book my husband bought me for Christmas!

(I decided not interpret it is as a commentary on the fact that he’s supporting me, as it was on my Amazon Wish List.)

Allison Hemming — founder of the Hired Guns — wrote Work It! as an antidote to the times…times in which an increasing amount of people are losing their jobs, or are at least worrying about the possibility.

While the majority of the content in her book is aimed at those in the full-time, corporate work force, I found that the lessons therein — especially as they pertained to resumes, networking, and correspondence — were applicable to anyone looking to make money.

And the number one lesson I learned from reading Work It!? It’s never too late to review the basics.

[Read more…]