Ariel Gore has written one of my favorite writing books of all time. It is equal parts solid information and heartwarming inspiration written with an irreverent and humorous spin. She takes you down the path of getting your words down on paper with wit and a healthy dose of sarcasm.
In Part One: Give Yourself a Lit Star Makeover, Gore discusses why you’re not too old, too poor, too crazy, or too anything to be a writer now. She encourages the aspiring writer to mine their crazy and milk their weirdness for all it’s worth. There are interviews with writers who have made their dreams come true with hard work and perseverance as well as a discussion about the pros and cons of an MFA or journalism program.
In Part Two: Master Your Craft, Gore gets into the nitty gritty of the actual writing. Gore doesn’t promise magical formulas and insists wisely that writing takes practice. She discusses the value in rushing a book out in a month via programs like National Novel Writing Month in order to boost productivity and allow yourself the freedom of making mistakes. Gore also breaks down important elements of writing, urging the reader to focus on good listening skills and proper word usage.
In Part Three: Publish Before You’re Ready, Gore advises the reader not to fear starting small. Blogs and zines get your writing out in the public eye and are an excellent start to publishing. From there she encourages writers to consider submitting short stories and essays to anthologies. Among the gems in this section is the portion titled “Ten Excellent Reasons to Self-Publish.” Read it!
In Part Four: Play With the Big Dogs, Gore discusses the reality of the publishing world and offers practical tips, like being nice to Interns and how not to piss off editors. Other necessary and practical advice covered here is meeting deadlines, knowing your details about size and genre, and how to handle rejection.
In Part Five: Become a Brazen Self-Promoter, Gore presents information on how to do press right once you’ve got a book to sell. She covers press kits, journalists, tours, and all aspects of successful self-promotion. A bonus in this section is a great interview with comedienne Margaret Cho.
How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead is an excellent resource for writers of any level. Whether you’re yet to put your first words on paper or have been lucky enough to pen the words The End, there is sage advice in the pages of this lighthearted book.