Book Publishing and Buzzfeed

The other day, while browsing Twitter, I came across this Buzzfeed article:

I thought it was an amazing article, and I hope this is alright with author Curtis Sittenfeld, but as a writer who is still getting acquainted with all the workings of the publishing industry, I thought I might do a little Book Publishing Commentary.

NOTE: I am paraphrasing her statements here and adding thoughts of my own.  The reason I am doing this is because I do not want to take credit for her work and because I want you to read her original article, because it’s fantastic. I am also not commenting on every single statement because some I have not yet experienced. More incentive for you to go read her article because you don’t know what I’m leaving out!


CS = Curtis Sittenfeld

JS = Jacqueline Smith

CS: Other writers are your friends.

JS: Yes.  Yes, yes, yes.  Never think of other authors as your competition.  They are your colleagues, and I’ve never met a group of people who are more willing to guide or offer encouragement to their peers.  I’ve often said that my very favorite thing about the book world, the indie world in particular, is the community and the support and their willingness to accept and to support other writers.  I like to think of it as a pay-it-forward group.  I had so many people help and encourage me, and I hope to do the same for other new authors.

CS: If you meet a stranger and they’ve heard of your book, be pleasantly surprised.

JS: As an indie, this is especially true.  I never expected anyone to have heard of me or my books.  I have, however, been quite pleasantly surprised.  I’ve had two instances, once walking into a coffee shop and once into a winery when someone’s asked, “Didn’t you write that ghost book?”  I have to tell you, I was floored.  I was even more surprised when I got to talking to a young man in Barnes and Noble only to find out that his mother had read Cemetery Tours and was trying to get him to read it too! He was hesitant, though, because he thought it might be dark and scary. Hey, it’s a ghost story!

CS: Everyone in publishing hates blurbs.

JS: I can’t speak for everyone in publishing, but I definitely hate blurbs.  Having to condense an entire book into a paragraph?  How do you expect me to do that?  I’m a wordy person.  That’s something that one of my grad school writing professors said about me.  He called me “wordy and abrasive.” Now, I’m not sure how abrasive I am, but I know I’m wordy.  And as a wordy person, I hate blurbs.  I don’t mind reading them, but I really hate writing them.

CS: The goal is to have a career.

JS: This is so true.  More than anything, I want to be an author with lots of different books and series.  I want this to be my life, my source of income, everything.  I want to be like Meg Cabot, who writes for all ages and has dozens and dozens of books and series to her name.  I want to write about ghosts and boy bands and lakes and Scotland and science and mythology.  I want different genres and different characters and different worlds.  I want people to read one of my books and think, “Woah! I can’t believe she wrote that other book!” because they’re so different.

CS: Readers are always curious about whether or not books are autobiographical.

JS: Again, I have found this one to be true.  I’ve had several people which character is supposed to be me, or which character is most like me.  The answer is none of them and all of them.  None of my characters represent me.  I make a point of making sure none of my characters look like me or act entirely like me.  However, I do put a little bit of myself or people I love into each character.  For example, one of the characters from Boy Band and my sister share the same phobia.  For another example, Luke Rainer and I are both Episcopalian.  His parents are also named after my parents, but they are not at all alike.

CS: When you read a new book by another author, you are excited to read it and not jealous.

JS: This is almost always true.  There have only been two books that I’ve attempted to read that I felt outright and petty contempt for them having been published.  I won’t name those books, but I will tell you that both originated online as fanfiction (you get three guesses, the first two don’t count).

CS: Fiercely protect your writing time.

JS: So agree.  Writing time is every bit as much work time as a 9 to 5 job.  It’s how we make money.  It’s how we create.  The key to being a writer is, well, WRITING!  It’s the very foundation of our livelihood.  Without writing, there is no writer.

Again, I chose not to comment on every point she made because I want you to read her article.  Her list is comprised of 24 observations.  I’ve only covered a handful.  But what she says at the end is true.  Writing is magic.  In fact, it might be the closest that humans can ever come to achieving real magic.  Words can take you anywhere, they can create worlds and characters and adventures from nothing.  And I’m always going to love it.

Just For Fun: Questions All Women Need to Answer

Like so many in the modern age of technology and the internet, I am a big fan of Buzzfeed.  I can spend hours and hours browsing and enjoying articles like What It’s Like to Watch Harry Potter for the First Time or Reasons Matthew Gray Gubler is the Nerd of Your Dreams (he really is).  Yesterday, I stumbled across one I hadn’t seen before.  41 Questions that All Women Need to Answer.  Upon reading through the list, some of the questions are silly and some I truly cannot answer due to lack of experience or whatever, but I thought it might be fun to go through and answer the ones that I can to the best of my ability.

Note: I answer only for myself. I cannot and do not speak for all women.

Another Note: There were questions that are not family friendly and will not be included.

Q: Why do women lie?

A: I think the more accurate question is Why do people lie, because as Dr. Gregory House so eloquently put it, everyone lies.  But women in general?  Like, why do women lie to men?  Probably because we don’t want to hurt your feelings or we want to get out of something.  Or we’re being sneaky and trying to figure something out.  Or we want to make ourselves look good.  But I feel like those aren’t specific to women.  I feel like those are the main reasons that people in general lie.

Q: Why do women always want to “squeeze” babies?

A: I am not a baby squeezer.  I’m always afraid I am going to somehow hurt a baby or hold it wrong, so I try to be as gentle as possible.  But I do know what it’s like to want to squeeze a cute animal.  We like hugging cute things.  It’s that simple.

Q: Why do women bring the whole family to doctors appointments?

A: N/A

Q: Why do women wear 1-inch heels? Like, what is the purpose?

A: Heels are stylish.  Heels make my legs look good.  Heels make my feet feel fancy.  True, it is difficult to walk in heels and yeah, they can be uncomfortable.  But I like my heels.  I like to feel pretty.

Q: Why do women have small feet?

A: I wear a size 9. We do not all have small feet.

Q: Why do women complain about their relationships and still stay in them?

A: I’m not in a relationship, and when I was and I was unhappy, I did end it.  But I felt very guilty about it.  I felt like I owed it to him to try to make it work.  I felt like I didn’t have a good enough reason to end it.  He was a good guy.  He’d never hurt me.  Complaining is really easy.  Taking action and making a decision that affects not only your life but another person’s as well is hard.

Q: Why do women have to be so hard to understand?

A: Why do men have to be so hard to understand?  In all seriousness though, what I’ve come to understand is that men and women’s brains work in different ways.  Women are very analytical.  We’re dwellers.  We have like, fifty things running through our heads at once.  We remember every moment from every interaction we’ve ever had and we consider every possible reaction and every possible outcome.  Being a woman is actually very stressful.

Q: Why do women get so upset when you unfollow them on social networks?

A: If I don’t know you, then I don’t care.  If I do know you, I’m going to be wondering what I did wrong.  Forever.

Q: Why do women dislike each other so much?

A:  I don’t dislike other women.  Most of my friends are girls.  But if one woman doesn’t like another, it’s probably because she makes her feel insecure.  Or maybe she’s just not a good person.  It has nothing to do with gender.  I don’t like men who are jerks either.

Q: Why do women in rock songs always wear cheap perfume?

A: This is a very good question.  Maybe the women that rock stars like can’t afford expensive perfume.

Q: Why can’t women sit still?  They’re always fiddling with something!

A:  I definitely do this, but to be honest, I don’t know why.  I just have to be doing something with my hands.  If you give me a sheet of paper, it will be folded and crinkled and ripped within ten minutes.  Maybe it’s because if we just sit there, we think, and when we think, we overanalyze and suddenly we end up reliving some embarrassing thing that happened in high school and worrying that everyone still remembers it, which I’m fairly certain they don’t.

Q: Why do women need to use more than 4 towels to shower?

A: One to step out on, one to wash your face, one to dry you off, one to dry your hair, and one for when you need to wash your hands.

Q: Why do women take pictures with half of their faces cut out?

A: It’s artsy.

Q: Why do women get mad when guys approach them?

A: Half the time we won’t. If we’re in the mood to flirt, then we love it. If we’re just trying to enjoy a night out with our girlfriends and want nothing to do with men (it does happen), then it’s annoying.  Unfortunately for you men, you’ll never know.  However, I think most of the time we’re flattered.  Again, can’t and do not speak for all women.  Only myself.

Q: Why do women friend zone the nice guys and then date jerks?

A: Oh man. This requires a long, long, long answer. The short version is we don’t intentionally “friend zone” anyone.  It’s either there or it isn’t, although I do think it is possible to escape the proverbial “friend zone.”  And believe it or not, we do date good guys.  We love good guys.  All the guys my friends have married are lovely people and totally nice.  However, I do encourage anyone who has ever wanted a more thorough and thought-out answer to this question to google Good Guys vs. Nice Guys.

Q: Why do women get upset when someone gives their baby the same name as theirs?

A: I don’t have a baby.  I do, however have two little cousins, the exact same age, who are both named Cade.

Q: Why do women wear form-fitting and revealing clothes?

A: I like to wear clothes that flatter my figure.  I think all women do.  I don’t wear clothes that reveal.  If I want to look good, then I’ll do my best to dress well.  Most of the time, though, I’m happy in sweats and t-shirts.

Q: Why do women dress up in dresses and high heals to go to the airport?

A: I don’t.  Again, sweats and t-shirts.  But maybe they’re on their way to a business meeting.  Maybe they’re meeting a guy at the airport.  They could have someone important waiting for them.

Q: Why do women cut their hair and then cry about cutting it later?

A: We’re complicated and we change our minds.  We’ve all regretted haircuts.  I cut my hair two months ago, and immediately after, I was missing my long hair.

Q: Why do women think that leggings are an acceptable substitute to trousers?

A: Good question.  I can’t just wear leggings.  My legs are my worst feature.

Q: Why do women hate Leos?

A:  I’m not really partial to any specific astrological sign, so I can’t help you here.

Q: Why do women have like 8 purses?

A: Different outfits require different accessories. As do different season.  I don’t carry my summer purses in the winter.

Q: Why do women try to get their man to propose?

A: I’ll ask all my married friends and get back to you.

Q: Why do women text you “hello???” if you don’t text them back right away?

A: We’re paranoid creatures and we want to know you’re not ignoring us!  Though I like to think I’m pretty tolerant of the delayed texter.  Sometimes it will take my best friend a whole day to text me back.

Q: Why do women like to drink wine and watch sad movies?

A: Why would anyone not like to drink wine and watch sad movies?

Q: Why do women want to look like men?

A: Guys get to keep it casual and your clothes look comfy.  I’m totally jealous of your clothes.

Q: Why do women throw things when they get angry?

A: I’ve seen men do this too.  I don’t think I’ve ever thrown out of anger.  I did throw a pillow once because I was in a lot of pain though.

Q: Why do women always have the final say?

A: We’re stubborn and proud and we like to have the last word.

Well, I have reached the end of the article.  I truly hope I didn’t offend anyone or give women a bad name!  This was all just for a bit of fun.  And again, I do not in any way speak for all women or any woman other than myself.  I’m interested to know how others might answers these questions, though!

The original article can be found on Buzzfeed here: