Welcome to Booklifenow.com! (Sign Our “Guestbook”)

Welcome to Booklifenow.com, a site that serves as support for and a supplement to my new book Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer.

(Would you trust these guys to advise you on your Booklife? Sure you would! Matt Staggs and Jeff VanderMeer, at a conference in Memphis, after running the first-ever Booklife workshop. Jeff had lost his dress slacks, button-down shirt, and blazer, and had to do the workshop in cargo shorts, t-shirt, and hoodie.)

My book is somewhat unique: a manual that’s about how to be a writer in our new media age, but with the spotlight on sustainable creativity and sustainable careers rather than on new media tools, although tools are an integral part of the discussion.

There’s such a welter of advice and options available via the internet that, after 25 years in the industry—as a writer, editor, publisher, teacher, and, creative consultant—I felt it was important to provide a guide that’s both practical and idealistic. The reason for the focus on career and creativity is that a focus primarily on the tools you might use to achieve success would also mean a discussion that’s more about tactics than strategy. Nothing hurts a writer more than to think primarily on a tactical rather than strategic level. (Example: the idea that spending a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter automatically guarantees you an audience for your books.)

Booklife integrates discussion of the topics traditional to such manuals with how the landscape has changed as a result of the innovations of the electronic age. Although many of these changes are wonderful, it isn’t a uniformly positive development—new media can fragment you, disrupt your ability to be creative, and make you pursue tactical goals that don’t support your overall career. It also may be hard to determine how to be an effective advocate for your book without sacrificing what’s most important: your personal joy stemming from the creative impulse, your intimate relationship with your writing.

This blog will provide a sometimes brash, sometimes clinical exploration of these issues—posting excerpts from Booklife, expanding on material from the book, soliciting the opinions of other experts, and in general providing you as a beginning or intermediate writer with a resource for good advice for your Private and Public Booklife. (Even advanced writers may benefit from the content.) My goal is to never post any content that I don’t think is genuine, honest, and of use. Helping me in this regard will be my friend the creative consultant Matt Staggs, whose ideas are an integral part of the book.

What, specifically, can you expect from Booklifenow.com between now and the end of the year?

  • -New content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, some excerpted from Booklife and some original to the site. For this special opening week, though–content every day!
  • -A “Top 10 Links” for the week feature by Matt Staggs (every Friday starting Oct. 30; Matt is a publicist, writer and creative consultant focused on facilitating the success of both authors and publishers.)
  • -Recommendations of the top writing resources–websites and books (we will never recommend anything we don’t support one hundred percent)
  • -News about Booklife-related events that bring workshops and other resources to your area
  • -Periodic Friday Q&A sessions where you can ask an expert about issues related to your Booklife

As I write in Booklife, no one ever achieves all of their goals–I keep the photo above as an amusing reminder of that fact–but striving to do the best possible job is half the battle.

I hope you’ll join us on this journey, and contribute to the conversation. And, as part of getting know our audience, I’d love it if you’d take the time to comment and tell me a little bit about who you are and what career or creativity issues related to writing are most on your mind at the moment.

(A big thanks to Publishers Weekly’s Booklife portal for their cooperation and help, as well as the immensely talented Luis Rodrigues for creating this website.)

68 thoughts on “Welcome to Booklifenow.com! (Sign Our “Guestbook”)

  1. Lookin' good, site and peeps! My current creative interest/concern is balancing different voices or viewpoints to create a balanced novel, and how to keep your focus tight on an area of a story you might not be as interested in. Career-wise, I'm just sitting back to watch and learn, given my status as meagerly-published writer.

  2. Wow. I had no idea this was happening, or had been written/blogified/etc. What a fantastic idea, and hopefully a righteously useful little book. I think this will be a great boon to almost anyone writing or starting to write in this high-strung age of shattered schedules and interrupted thought trains. As an illustrator rather than a writer, most writing books can apply to my career quite easily… or can be so far afield from what visual artists need to hear, that they might as well be discussing repair of a VTOL jet.

    Knowing Jeff wrote much of this, and seeing the contributor's list, I do think I'll enjoy this heavily even if it sails right past the turn off for us painterly folks. : )

    And I know my wife will get a blanket of use out of this no matter what it does for me.


  3. Hi, Jeff. Reading the book now, about 60 pages in. Love the strategic approach. It's great to see a writing book that doesn't cover the same old ground. (You know, "Outline or wing it?", that sort of thing.) I like that it's not overly prescriptive, too.

  4. Read "Booklife" and loved it, already using ideas from the book to help in my busy life and it's working so far! Looking forward to see what's on the site. Also I'll be interviewing the great Jeff Vandermeer for BookBanter at the World Fantasy Convention and that interview will be showing up on BookBanter in a couple of months. Check out the BookBanter site for more info and check out Booklife the book, it was really great!

  5. Congratulations! I'm hoping to pick up some tips about how to get into the book reviewing world (other than just my blog, with a fairly limited audience); how to read for money, so to speak. Tall order, I know.

    More than that, I'm hoping this kicks me in the pants to work harder on my short stories and on my memoir of my marriage to a con artist (my short-lived first marriage, that is, not my wonderful marriage to my sweet, loving, wonderful, brilliant husband who, to sum it up, is often all that keeps me alive). Fred (said husband) is very good with writing prompts and keeping my pants applied to my chair, but I need something more — and I think this might be it.

  6. Thanks for the comments so far. Happy to see that the book has already started to be of use! Part of the point of this site, too, will be to test the book, soliciting your opinions on how well the various chapters have worked.


  7. Congratulations on the launch of the book, Jeff! I'm reading it now, and really enjoying it, just flying through the text. I'm honored to have been included in the project. I've watched you for twenty years *live* what's included in this book, so I can attest to its sincerity and validity. I know it's going to be a tremendous help to writers and artists of all kinds. My brother Steve is an artist, and I'm fairly sure he's going to find a good deal of this material relevant to his world as well.


  8. Jeff, I would like to say a word about the one negative review of Booklife that I've read. I'm a fan of Jessa Crispin and many of the books she recommends are right up my alley, but when she says Booklife "made her uneasy" and has questionable priorites, it occurs to me that virtually every book Crispin likes has already been through the "networking" and "ego-feeding" processes that she apparently finds distasteful. The difference is, in many cases, those authors have people in the trenches to do the legwork and nurturing for them. Jeff, I believe you wrote Booklife for authors who must "switch hats" from artist to publicist to merchant without loosing foucus. Anyone who has read your fiction knows that creativity and skill are first and foremost. I'm finding Booklife to be quite solid and helpful.

  9. Bill: I was bothered by it because it seemed to insinuate that I was being dishonest in the book. But I've since asked Jessa if I can interview her for this site, and she accepted. That'll run sometime in November or December, but it'll go into more detail about her views on writing, creativity, and careers. I do plan in the second edition to reference that "non review" as she called it, in the context of double and triple making sure that readers understand why I'm offering up the information in the Public Booklife section.

  10. I'm pretty excited about this site; probably not as excited as you. Congratulations!

    (Better post now, so I can get one of the pretty green comment backgrounds.)

  11. Quinden–Thanks. Much of what we post at first will be taken from Booklife, updated somewhat, but there will be new content, too. And that'll just continue to rise–the ratio of new to excerpts.

  12. Jeff, thanks for making this website. I'm not sure if Booklife is for me, so I checked out the site to get an idea of the content. I read your ED blog (Ecstatic Days, not Erectile Dysfuction) regularly, and it led me here.

    I've had a handful of short stories published, and am trying to get a literary agent to represent my thriller novel. My first 5 novels went unpublished, despite my best efforts. (I am not naturally talented, but I am naturally stubborn.)

    I'm trying to learn the business side of writing, while keeping in mind that my main task is to write the best stories I am able. I appreciate your giving back to the writing community by sharing the lessons you've learned in this art/business hybrid monster.


  13. Hey–thanks for that. It sounds like you've got the right attitude. One reason booklifenow is important is to reinforce that idea of focusing on your Private Booklife even as you learn more about how to harness new media, etc. I wouldn't want anyone to take the Public Booklife sections as a license to mortgage their souls.

  14. Jeff, thanks for providing this site – it looks like an invaluable resource, especially at this point in my life. I'm a lifelong writer of fiction, poetry, children's lit and creative non-fiction, but my only publications have been during a couple of years after college as a print journalist, and more recent freelance articles.

    I may soon be without a day job, and am trying to look on this sudden change as a golden opportunity to finally approach publication attempts for my creative writing in a disciplined, organized fashion. …It may sound like a pretty obvious approach, but it's a bit scary and new in my world.

    So, as I said, your site sounds fantastic, and I'm looking forward to frequent visits. Thanks.

  15. Saw the piece on BoingBoing about your book, followed the link to Amazon.com and ordered it. I didn't even opt for the free but slow shipping. Always wanted to be a novelist but found the daily writing and steady paycheck as a reporter drained the novel-writing motivation. Now I'm editing copy instead of writing it, and I'm hoping your book can give me a kick start back into the daily routine of writing for myself and, I hope, for the eventual reader(s). No pressure …

  16. Hey, you two. Sounds like definite transitions and if Booklife is of any use, let me know! thanks for commenting.

  17. I just ordered Booklife. The site looks great. I'm a student and tech writer and part-time poet and prose writer in my spare time. I learned about your work when I read the 2nd edition of "City of Saints and Madmen" (in 2003?) and then emailed you after I decrypted "The Man Who Had No Eyes" and thought I'd found some errors.

    "The Thackery T Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases" is one of my favorite books, and I just finished "Shriek: An Afterword," and was blown away.

    Thanks for all your writing and writerly help!

  18. Hey, Mark–I remember the decryption thing. Thanks again re that. I hope you like Booklife. Of course, the last Ambergris novel is now out–Finch. Hope you enjoy it.


  19. Congrats on the launch. I’ve been reading and re-reading Booklife, and it really helps with pulling problems and strategies into focus. Looking forward to watching the site develop.

  20. Thanks for putting out "Booklife"–I've read a few random pages, and can already see what a help it will be for a first-time author. I told my publicist to get a blurb from Dr. Phil…is that as bad as putting Oprah on my author questionnaire? Are people laughing at my naivety? Wish I had read "Booklife" first! Take care.

  21. I read about BOOKLIFE over at The Swivet and ordered my copy the same day. I'm now half-way through. Thank you so much for the glimpse into your own writing life. As someone who is also now writing full-time, it was especially timely for me to read about your transition and how you've scheduled (and reset) your time.

    I'm looking forward to reading through your recommended reading list.

  22. I'm currently reading Booklife, and I have to say, it is probably the most helpful book I've come across as a toddler author. Look forward to the rest of the book and this site as well.

  23. Great to meet you at the Press Club reading in Portland, Jeff. I'm enjoying BOOKLIFE, too.

    I'm currently exploring the question of how someone who has long earned her living as a fulltime freelancer by writing one kind of book can develop a secondary or alternate writing identity. BOOKLIFE has already given me some ideas. Thanks!

  24. Pingback: Jeff, Jessa, Burroughs, and « Bill Ectric’s Place

  25. I'm over halfway through Booklife and I've found it really interesting. The separation of public vs. private booklife is handy and the anecdotes illustrate your points in an accessible way (I love the one from Seneca in the Room to Think section.)

    I've only had one short story published, but I'm working on a novel and editing other shorts in between doing the day job, so Booklife has been very useful in reminding me about balancing everything. And that having a plan is a good thing. (I do a business plan every year, but I'd never thought of breaking it down into a monthly/ quarterly plan, or expanding it into a five year plan, so that's really provided me with food for thought.)

    Thanks :)

  26. It's 6:50 am and I've been up for an hour with BookLife on the desk in front of me, writing out goals and a mission statement. I'm *delighted* with the book. Its excitement and energy are contagious, and I get a terrific can-do rush from realizing (d'oh) that I can actually apply the tactics I use at my day job to my writing life. Thank you thank you!

  27. Booklife is a major gift to the writing world. I haven't finished it yet, but have been nodding all the way–this is stuff I talk about constantly to NAIWE members. It sounds as if you plan exactly as I do, and it's a method that really works. I'll be recommending this very highly.

    Your discussion of channels and white noise/dark noise was interesting, and it emphasizes the importance of controlling channels for the sake of your private booklife. I thought I was probably the only one who found the presence of another person a tremendous distraction, even when they were being quiet and minding their own business.Now I don't feel quite so curmudgeonly about my need for solitude!

    Thanks–it's a book that needed to be written.

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  29. Just started reading this Friday. In bullet points –

    This may be the most useful book for writers I have ever read. You read the book, do what it says, and you are incrementally further forward. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Thanks for writing it.

    From the look of the book, you cover everything that someone like me needs to know.

    Thanks again,


  30. I'm right on the verge of entering the e-book realm while maintaining a 'traditional" print career, yet both of these paths look slippery ahead. And, yes, how to be happy reaching readers without becoming an annoying hype machine…

    Scott Nicholson

    The Red Church

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