Booklife Turned In…Now It Begins…

Just turned Booklife: Strategies & Survival Tips for 21st-Century Writers following Juliet Ulman’s splendid developmental edit (thanks, Juliet!). Thanks to my long-suffering wonderful wife Ann for her first read, help with reorganizing parts, and subsequent reads of bits. Thanks to my beta readers–you know who you are (I’m currently making sure I’ve got all the names right in the acknowledgments). Thanks to Matt Staggs for adding his ideas and a wider perspective. Thanks to Sir Tessa for calling bullshit and for questioning the narrative and for compliments. Thanks to J.T. Glover for a systematic and careful read. Man, did I have access to a crack team of intelligent readers or what? And thanks to Jill Roberts at Tachyon, for patience and many kindnesses.

Here’s the final TOC. The beast comes out in mid-October, but you can already pre-order it (ignore the description–that’s just the Public Booklife part). I’m excited. It works. It not only works and is helpful, it does no harm. It’s both practical and eccentric, bloody-minded and understanding (I think). Now the only problem is, it’s so transparent I’m going to have to come up with a whole new approach for my own books. Stay a step ahead.


Are You Ready to Embrace a Booklife?
How to Use this Book
Sampling It
Following the Structure
Re-imagining the Book
What This Book Is Not
Further Resources


Part 1: Building Your Booklife
The Pillars of Your Public Booklife
Creating and Managing Goals
The Discovery Process
Choosing Your Platforms
Public Platform Example: The Blog
Managing Your Involvement

Part 2: Communicating Your Booklife
Dealing with Editors and Publicists
Understanding Creative PR
PR Opportunities
PR Tools
Leveraging Your Ideas
Creating a PR Plan
Five Minimum Elements for Success

Part 3 Maintaining Your Booklife
The Importance of Persistence
Paying it Forward/Community
Against Trends
Positive Survival Strategies

The Search for Balance
Your Health
Positive Choices
Avoiding the Negative
Multi-tasking and Fragmentation
White Noise and Dark


Part 1 – Living Your Booklife
The Pillars of Your Private Booklife
Reasons for Writing
Attitude and Creativity
Finding Inspiration
Being Receptive
Room to Think
Relinquishing All Fetishes
Writing and Revision: The Experience of Others
Work Schedule
Habit versus Process
Permission to Fail

Part 2 – Protecting Your Booklife
Re-vitalizing Creativity
Support from Your Partner
The Long View

>>> CODA


Appendix A – Additional Information on Relevant Roles
Booksellers (by James Crossley)
Marketing Versus Publicity (by Colleen Lindsay)
Publicists (by Colleen Lindsay)

Appendix B – Content-Related
Marketing/PR Campaign Summary (Example)
PR Plan (High-Level Example)
Press Releases (Example)
Book Reviews

Appendix C – Additional Notes on New Media (by Matt Staggs)

Appendix D – Nurturing Creativity
Chasing Experience (by Nathan Ballingrud)
Luck’s Child (by Marly Youmans)
Workshops (by Cat Rambo)
Writing a Novel in Two Months


  1. says

    Huzzah! And there was much rejoicing.

    (Why’s it always bullshit with me? Wait, that’s a silly question. Though I’m pretty sure I pointed out lovely delicately-scented flowers in the text as well.)

  2. Donnie B. says

    Wow that’s exciting! How did you get to be such a badass writer? Are you self-taught or did you study in college? I admire your work to death. When I first read Dradin, In Love I was captivated in a way I had never been by a piece of fiction. I am taking a creative writing course this summer. I write but am too intimidated by writers like Nabokov, Carter, and yourself to ever show anyone my stuff. I’m looking forward to your book. Maybe it will help me. I wish I had more self-confidence. You rock dude! Can’t wait for Finch!!!

  3. George Berger says

    Jeff, congratulations. I look forward to reading it asap. I have been a bookworm since 1956 and now read lots of stuff about writing. An attempt to improve my online style. BTW, yesterday I told a colleague about our little Pesach exchange. What a good feeling I still have from that flurry of Facebook messages.

  4. Aidan says

    Congratulations! Hope the beta readers suggested you add lots of monkeys. :-)
    Look forward to reading the final version.

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says


    That’s a good question. How did I become such a bad-ass writer? I had a weird childhood. I was abandoned by my parents at the age of four and raised by a LAPD detective who didn’t have money for a sitter or a nursery school, so he took me around with him and I saw everything he saw. Learned to use a shotgun by the time I was seven. By the time I was eleven, I was helping him shake up perps. By the age of fourteen, I was helping him shake down perps. I think that had a lot to do with it. Oh yeah–and I wore a bad-ass leather jacket from the time I was five. That didn’t hurt.

    Re Booklife–it’s really all about the attitude I developed on “the street”. Definitely does deal with confidence to some degree.

  6. says

    Kudos to you, Jeff. Can’t wait to see the finished product. The cover is growing on me, too (no pun intended).

  7. says

    Congratulations and cheers aplenty, Jeff. I wish I’d had this book five years ago, and I’m sure I’ll be glad to have it five years from now, still.

  8. says

    ach du lieber, another good book on writing I’ll have to read. Man, I’ll never get any writing done now.

    Okay, but I’m only going to buy it if Evil Monkey makes an appearance somewhere in the text. Tell me Evil Monkey shows up somewhere in there.