Novelist, editor, ghostwriter and Star Wars fan, Belea T. Keeney, shares a favorite how-to writing book on finding the right balance between writing and promoting your book, so your email and Facebook time doesn’t take over your life. Read on!



Is your “Booklife” taking over your real life? Do you struggle to find the time to write amid busy weekdays and even busier weekends? Have deadlines whizzed past you and left you scrambling? Do you spend more time marketing your work than you do writing it? Then your Booklife is probably out of balance, and author and editor Jeff Vandermeer can you keep your Booklife seesaw from tipping.


Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer   

by Jeff Vandermeer
Tachyon Publications, ISBN: 978-1-892391-90-2
324 pages   $14.95, trade paperback
Available new, used, online, and in stores



Vandermeer is a prolific author who has experienced the numerous challenges of a writer’s life and calls it Booklife. He has lots of smart advice for other writers dealing with it. Divided into two major parts, “Public Booklife” and “Private Booklife,” Vandermeer distinguishes between the public booklife you have dealing with others and promoting your work versus your private booklife and what you need to create that work.


Booklife‘s opening chapter, “Building Your Booklife,” for example, has terrific info on Creating and Managing Goals, and Vandermeer points out the difference between them. Goals are attainable and under your control, such as submitting three short stories per month. Dreams may not be attainable and are not under your control, such as making the New York Times bestseller list. “Building Your Booklife” also has sections on mapping your future, discovering which process works best for you, choosing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and other online social media outlets, deciding about a blog, and a wrap-up on “Managing Your Involvement.” Vandermeer advises planning carefully and using your time wisely so your public Booklife doesn’t become your whole life.


In Chapter Two, “Communicating Your Booklife,” sections on networking, dealing with editors, public relations opportunities, and managing your time all have clear advice from Vandermeer along with input from authors who have struggled with these same topics. In the networking section about conferences, Vandermeer advises authors, “…don’t waste too much time trying to get on panels. Being too forceful in trying to get on the program will tax the patience of already overworked convention volunteers, and you can gain almost as much by attending panels. Besides, many of the best conversations and networking at these events will occur outside of (or in spite of) the formal programming.”


Chapter Three, “Maintaining Your Booklife,” focuses on branding, persistence, and time management including an important section on survival strategies such as online blackouts, email on a schedule only, and limiting IM and Facebook time. He also discusses some of the modern-day challenges to a coherent writing life: multi-tasking and fragmentation. Both can damage writers and their creative powers.


Vandermeer says these challenges are “…one consequence of a modern Booklife that has drifted, because our platforms, opportunities, and tools create a false sense of control. By simply responding to information that comes to you from conduits, you feel you’re closer to achieving goals. But there’s the nagging sense behind it all that instead all you’re doing is treading water. The goal’s still on the horizon, and you’re expending a lot of useless energy.”


In Part Two, “Private Booklife,” Vandermeer shifts the discussion to the creative side of writing: how the writing gets done. He offers advice on attitude and inspiration along with input on developing a work schedule for both part-time and full-time writers. One chapter, “Protecting Your Booklife,” has sections on potential problem-makers for writers: addiction, rejection, envy, despair, and support from a partner. (That partner-less writers are somewhat ignored was a minor irritation in the book for me.)


And unlike many books where you might just ignore the appendix, this one is chock full of good information, including the actual PR plan for Booklife, his marketing summary, sample press releases, and cover letters for book reviewers. The Appendix D uses mini-essays from four different writers who offer input on getting life experience before writing, luck, the worth of workshops, and sacrifice.


I found Vandermeer’s clear thinking and prose about the various topics very inspiring. You can be a writer and be a social person; you can be an artist and run a household effectively. Vandermeer doesn’t buy into the myth of the addicted, struggling, dysfunctional artist. Vandermeer says take control of your private and public Booklives, and your both your writing and your peace of mind will improve.


Future editions would benefit from an index; finding specific topics from the Table of Contents only can be confusing. Other than that, this material works well.


If you’re working to balance your writing time and your responsibilities and obligations, if you’re struggling to manage marketing and creating, then Booklife could help you find that sweet spot on your seesaw of life.


Want to put Booklife into action? Then attend Belea and Alice’s live workshop, “How to Write/Publish Your Novel/Memoir Like a Rock Star” on Saturday, January 11th from 9:30am-2pm.


Spaces are still available!


How to Write and Publish Your Novel or Memoir Like a Rock Star!
Location: Center for Excellence, 3803B Computer Dr. Ste. 106 Raleigh NC 27609
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Time: 9:30am-2pm—Refreshments served
Fee: $25
To Register Click Here

Want to finally write your novel or memoir in 2014? You can do it! Throughout the morning, participants will be treated to discussions such as “I’m With the Band” about looking, acting, and being a professional writer; “Backstage Pass” for an insider’s view of market info and finding places to sell your writing and “The VIP Room” with tips on working with editors and publishers once your work is selected. Belea T. Keeney and Alice Osborn, two authors and editors who have guided countless aspiring novelists and memoirists on their way to publication, will discuss the importance of writing well so you can attract your audience.

You’ll also get all of your burning publication questions answered. Whether you’re just starting to think about your book or have completed your manuscript, this workshop will set you on the path to stardom! All participants will receive a Backstage Pass Packet containing a writing notebook and a how-to book on writing.