Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Isabel Says "Think Teaching, Young Writer"

Author Joe Quirk's first book tour intersected with Isabel Allende's book tour, where she gave him some interesting advice-

Five minutes before we were due to go on the air, the fawners stepped away to confer.

Ms. Allende seized me by the arm and pulled me into a corner. She spun me around, leaned close, and whispered with desperate urgency as if this was Invasion of the Body Snatchers and we were the only two real humans left alive. I paraphrase her speech from memory:

"You will not make a living, young man."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Nothing beats the feeling of your first novel getting so much attention, but get over it, starting now. You have to start thinking about how to use this. Nobody makes a living from royalties. It's not possible. It's rigged against you. You have to think of your book as a business card you hand to people who will pay you what you're worth. You have to think about speaking tours. You have to think about teaching positions. Get a list of universities, and start calling them now, because your publicist won't. Do you hear me? You have to be savvy. You have to hustle, because you will go under if you rely on book writing. I've seen it happen to talented writers over and over. You can't afford a house, you can't support your spouse, you spent too much of your advance. You seem like a nice young man. I don't want to see it happen to you. Are you listening to me? Do you understand?"

Here's what I didn't say, but thought:

"Excuse me, aren't you ... Isabel Allende? International bestseller? New book every year translated into 18 languages? Hellooooo! Earth to Isabel! You're a megastar! You obviously maintain a much higher standard of living than me, lady, because up until a couple months ago I was a part-time manny. I should have your problems!"

What I really said was: "Yes, ma'am."

Someone poked their head in the room and said, "Ms. Allende, you're on."

"We'll talk later," she said.

We never did.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Good stuff.


lakeviewer said...

She is a savvy person.

Doc said...

These are tough words to swallow for a writer. I guess I'm keeping my night job.


SkylersDad said...

I picture her peeking around like the walls have ears.

Cormac Brown said...




Always a good idea and believe you me when I say I would love to abandon mine at the first onset of a book advance.

Sky Dad,

You crack me up.
; )