Marketing is eating my lunch

Once upon a time, writers wrote, marketers marketed, and readers read.

Alas, I missed out on the days when authors primarily paid attention to their craft and the art of storytelling. Now the line between content producers and content promoters has blurred, if not disappeared. The idea of what it means to be an “author” has morphed. Indie authors in particular find themselves taking on the role of entrepreneur in addition to writer.

An author today is expected to be, as my mother would have put it, chief cook and bottle washer.

Women washing dishes

Washing with others is always more fun thank washing alone. Same goes for book marketing!
[Photo credit: National Library of Australia from Canberra, Australia, via Wikimedia Commons]

In preparing for the release of my book of short stories this summer, I’m spending more than half my time washing bottles. I’d rather be cooking. But so it goes. You can’t have one without the other. A delicious meal consumed amidst filthy dishes is unpleasant for the diners. Writing without marketing languishes unread.

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Are you burger or filet? The dilemma of genre

I’ve had quite a few stories published in online and print literary journals in the last five years.

And quite a few not published.

I recently received a rejection from a publication that provides brief feedback in return for a small contribution when you submit. As I read the comments, it became apparent that the editor had completely missed what kind of story it was.

The editor expected this… (Photo Credit: Robspinella, via Wikimedia Commons)

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Screen diversions: no reading required

Are you excited to wake up every morning and hear the news? Do you believe all is right with the world, everything is on track, and we are all one big happy family?

[Rhetorical questions.]

As an antidote, I thought I’d share some entertainment. No politics, musing about the world of book publishing, or existential crises. Just five shows* I’ve enjoyed recently.

Of course, many have messages or ideas about the world woven into their stories. But the truth buried in fiction often moves us more—and makes us think more deeply—than the reality in front of our noses.

Happy viewing.

*We can’t really call them “TV” shows any more, because they’re often not viewed on TVs.

High times with Kathy Bates

Disjointed” is billed as a “workplace comedy.” Part of the comedy is that the workplace is a pot dispensary. Netflix must have had this waiting in the wings since California voted in 2016 to legalize marijuana. I happened to watch parts 1 and 2 in early January, 2018 just after the law took effect.

This show might be a little over the top for some (the animated sequences are pretty trippy and probably look even better when you’re watching in a, shall we say, altered state) but it has a great heart. And with Kathy Bates as the star, it’s hard to go wrong, although I was surprised to see the number of thumbs-downs on the YouTube views.

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3 tips to keep your reviews from failing

Every Sunday when I was a kid in the tiny New York town of Hillsdale, my parents would drive five miles down a dirt road to the local grocery store to pick up the New York Times. My parents were transplants from the greater metropolitan area of New York City; I imagine that great hunk of newsprint helped them stay connected to the life they had—albeit willingly—left behind.

My mother immersed herself in the notoriously challenging crossword puzzle. My father delved into the sports pages to follow his beloved Yankees and into the financial pages to follow his beloved stock portfolio.

I went for the Book Review.

Review of Lillian Hellman’s “Pentimento” from September 23, 1973

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Ghosts of Christmases Past


I am 12 years old. In our non-practicing Jewish household, Christmas morning means an assortment of gifts on the fireplace hearth (though no tree). I come down through the cold house to see what “Santa” has brought, though I will wait until my parents are awake to open them. This year, there’s a spiral-bound blue notebook with blue-tinted pages. Later that day—December 25, 1974—curled up on the couch in my new Lanz of Salzburg flannel nightgown, I write my first journal entry. I have written almost every day in the intervening 43 years. Continue reading