Jeff VanderMeer’s BOOKLIFE

I heard about Jeff VanderMeer’s BOOKLIFE: STRATEGIES AND SURVIVAL TIPS FOR THE 21ST-CENTURY WRITER through word of mouth, and so picked up a copy.  There aren’t that many books out there right now that tackle in depth the usage of social media by writers to promote their work.  Also, VanderMeer’s own website had been pointed out by others to me as an example to study, so I definitely wanted to know what he had to say.

First off, I think  VanderMeer’s separation of a writer’s life into a “public booklife” and a “private booklife” is a terrific idea.   It’s especially needed in this era of social media and cell phones.  Knowing where to set boundaries can make the difference between burnout and long-term productivity.

I’m going to let him explain in his own words why he created the two definitions:

This point I cannot emphasize enough:  your Public Booklife and your Private Booklife work in tandem…but you must separate them out for balance and peace of mind.  Writers get into trouble otherwise.  For example, the minute you start thinking about how to market or leverage something while writing it, you’ve lost the focus you need to make your work reach its full potential.  Many of the ideas in this book are ultimately about strengthening your ability to be two different creatures at very different times.

I found I preferred to read the book backwards, starting with II. Private Booklife, then Booklife Gut-Check, and then finally I. Public Booklife.   My reason for doing so (I did actually start out in Section I., then switched to II.) was because I needed more time to think about who I was as a writer before being able to figure out what would and would not work for me as VanderMeer discussed the myriad choices now available for public relations in the Public Booklife section.

Because I’m jaded as a reader of books on writing, I found the best stuff was in Public Booklife, Booklife Gut-Check (in particular the discussion on multitasking and fragmentation), and hidden away in the extensive appendices.  I ended up taking notes as I read those sections because they kept triggering brainstorms.

This is a very helpful book for writers considering how much time and money to spend on efforts to create a “platform.”

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