Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for 21st Century Writers

Here’s a partial TOC to Booklife, without revealing the next level of detail in the subsections and obscuring some additional subject matter I’m still moving around–titles to sections are often still non-parallel placeholders, too.

The book is about the struggle to find balance–how do you achieve a sustainable career and sustainable creativity in the current new media environment? It tackles all kinds of traditional topics, but each is infused with the context of the new paradigm even as it also addresses universal issues that have remain unchanged over the centuries.

I think another unique aspect of the book is that I’m in the process of getting permissions from Penguin UK for quoting from relevant passages in translation from their Great Ideas series, intermingled with the voices of many of you who have commented here over the last couple of years (I have been contacting people for permissions in this arena, too). Many of my posts on writing tips had a secondary purpose of testing out ideas for the book.

In the spirit of new media, I am also including a Creative Commons piece by Colleen Lindsay, andadditional notes on new media by Matt Staggs, to cover a few things too technical for the strategic/tactical nature of the main body of the text. As well as some other material I’m not at liberty to discuss yet–the appendix set out here is deliberately very incomplete.

I’m still messing with the structure, but I’m excited with how it’s coming together. I’ve poured into this book everything I’ve learned on these subjects since I first published a story back in 1986. That includes many strategies and tactics, as well as information, that will erase a few natural advantages I’ve built up over the years. The point of that is not just to pay it back to the community, but also to force me to get out of my ruts and find new ways of doing things. (Although there is some specific craft of writing material in the book, I am holding much of that back for a full-on general writing instruction book.)

Tachyon is publishing Booklife in September.




The Three Pillars of Your Public Booklife

Building Your Booklife
What is a “Professional” Writer?
Learning to Be Yourself
Creating and Managing Goals
Choosing Your Level of Involvement
Public Platform(s)
Public Platform Example: The Blog
Dealing with Editors and Publicists
Understanding Creative PR
Your PR Arsenal
Leveraging Your Ideas
Putting it All Together: Your PR Plan

Maintaining Your Booklife
Transparency—and Its Limits
Importance of Persistence
Paying it Forward/Community
Against Trends



The Seven Pillars of Your Private Booklife

Making Space for Your Booklife
Attitude and Creativity
Reasons to Write
Being Receptive
Relinquishing All Fetishes
Establishing a Work Schedule
Habit versus Process
Support From Others

Living Your Booklife
Having Confidence in Your Passion
The Concept of Inspiration
Finding Inspiration
Permission to Fail
In the Moment
Re-envisioning the Moment
Recharging Your Imagination
Multi-purposing Your Creativity

Protecting Your Booklife
Distractions and Addictions
Multi-tasking and Fragmentation
Understanding Rejection
Monitoring Envy
Dealing with Despair
The Long View




Appendix A – The Life Cycle Of A Book

Appendix B – How To:
Write a Press Release
Choose an Agent
Present Your PR Plan to Your Publisher
Create a Press Kit
Perform a Successful Reading
Deal with Fans/Readers
Write a Novel in Two Months

Appendix C – Other Creative/Career Opportunities
Speaking at Conventions and Conferences
Teaching Creative Writing Workshops
Book Reviewing

Appendix D – Additional Notes on New Media, by Matt Staggs


  1. says

    Looks very interesting Jeff. Looking forward to it.

    Just wondering though, since it’s coming out in September, when’s the deadline for the final draft (before the proofs come in)?

  2. says

    In a week or two. Then it goes through a copy edit and developmental edit. It’s cutting it a little close, but it’s the price I pay for two deadlines almost back-to-back (the first being Finch).


  3. says

    Er, I should say that I will gladly pay you for it a year ago, as well.

    Additionally, I plan on buying the hell out of this book come September. Seriously. I am going to buy it to within an inch of its life.

  4. says

    This sounds so cool, and certainly a perfect resource for so many of us out there. When I started writing and contemplating the publishing industry, I never imagined it would change so much so quickly. I used to feel like a monk illuminating a manuscript in a lonely cell, but now I see it’s a vast, networked hive, and there are secret passages everywhere. You just have to do a little exploring to figure it out!

  5. says

    I’m really looking forward to this one. And the general writing book as well. Like Will, I just wish I could send it back in time to me a couple of years ago.

  6. says

    Legend has it that in 1969, Atlantic Records gave Led Zeppelin a contract before they even heard the band play. They did that based on the achievements and well-deserved reputations of the bandmembers. They chose wisely.

    So it is with a book on writing by Jeff VanderMeer. Can’t go wrong! As much as I enjoyed Why Should I Cut Your Throat?, it was apparently the tip of the iceburg.
    I only wish the publishers could get Booklife out quicker!