Monday, January 15, 2007

Wha to Expect When You're Expecting a Book: Part One of my Writing-Related Trilogy

When I tell people I’ve written a novel that will be published by a heretofore yet undecided imprint of Random House in 2008, I receive many interesting responses. They have included:

1) A blank stare, followed by a clumsy steering of the conversation back to a topic they are more comfortable / familiar with. This is usually anything about themselves.

2) The comment, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, too. But I never had the time.” Well my friends, I’m happy to tell you that not only is publishing a book super-easy, you can actually find that missing time behind the couch cushions, along with about $1.46 in loose change!

3) Family and friends will be relieved that you’ve managed to avoid bringing shame and dishonor to the family name by say, landing in prison. Don’t worry; they may not have read your book yet at this point. There will be plenty of time for shame and dishonor when they do.

4) The comment, “I could never write a book.” Come on now, don’t sell yourself short! Can you write a grocery list? Next time you do, substitute humorous items here and there. Once you’ve got 300 of these suckers, you’ve almost got a book!

5) The question, “How much did you have to pay to get it published?” Other than the cost of my soul, it was really cheap. In fact, they actually paid ME! But now that this little secret’s out, I’m sure someone in the accounting department will be contacting me for a refund.

6) The question, “How does one get a book published anyway?” Ah, the question we’ve all been waiting for. Well, have you ever swum across the Atlantic Ocean? Trying to get a book published is a lot like that, only without the constant threat of drowning. But you should feel drawn to endurance-type activities. This Wednesday and Friday I will tell you exactly how one gets a book published with my posts: how you too can ride the gravy train to fame, fortune, and a lifetime supply of neuroses by becoming a best-selling author.

Yes, I know I said I was only blogging once a week, but I believe in mixing it up a little now and then. It's part of my new anti-aging strategy. Spontaneity keeping the brain cells challenged and all.

In the meantime, please stop by the talented and determined Stephanie Elliot's blog to congratulate her on signing with an agent. She’s on her way!

For real answers to writing-related questions, visit Diana Peterfreund, J.A. Konrath, Jen Weiner, or Allison Winn Scotch.


  1. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Omigosh...these are all SO true! I thought it would be thrilling to finally have an answer when people ask, "What do you do?" But I find myself tempted to lie and say, "I do temp work..." because the odd reactions to "I'm a writer" can be so painful...

    That said, however, I'm grateful to have this problem. I try to remember this when someone asks me if I can help their grandfather-in-law who lives in Africa and speaks no English find a book deal for his romantic comedy. :)

  2. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Why would you only blog once a week? Blogging keeps your writing skills sharp! (For me, at least).

    I read this post and I'm confused. Where do you put down expecting big fat checks and movie deals ... ?

  3. Jess - throwing your heart and soul into a project that might receive criticism is the ultimate test of inner strenght! You are so honest and I admire that.

  4. Hey, I think you might be on to something with number 4...a book of other people's grocery lists would be BOSS.


  5. It sounds to me like training for an Ironman and getting a book published are on par with each other. Congrats Jess!

  6. Anonymous7:39 PM

    Congratulations! Good work!

  7. Anonymous8:03 PM

    I'm still not sure I get what all the delays are about. You've written a book - and Random House should publish it and put it on the shelves. What am I missing?

    Sorry if I sound impatient - but we need to read Jess Riley's book for pete's sake!!!

  8. Anonymous8:33 PM

    I could never write a book. ;)

    But for real, writing a hit song would be more my style. it could happen!!

  9. The author Margaret Atwood once told the story of being at a party where she met a neurosurgeon who upon hearing that she was a writer said "I plan to write a book when I retire." to which she replied "how interesting, I always planned to be a surgeon when I retire."

  10. But the question I would have is: Why not until 2008? Because all of the other books published in 2007 are afraid of you? Yes, I think that's it. They know that you'll kick their ass and they don't want to be around. OK, never mind. You don't have to answer.

  11. Um, I could never write a book. Where would I find the time? I've already ransacked the couch for coffee money and my husband called dibs on the extra time we found between the cushions.

  12. My favorite is: "I've got a great idea for a book. I'll tell it to you, you write it, and we'll split the money."

    Speaking of which, I've got a great idea for a concerto. I'll hum the theme...

  13. Anonymous8:45 AM

    OMG too funny. Love the list and it is sooooooooo true!!!! Can't wait until your book comes out.

  14. Anonymous10:33 AM


    Thanks for the glimpse into a Real Author's conversations. Extra congrats, and I'm very, very happy you're telling us about it!

    (I show all my friends your blog. And I always say, "She's a REAL writer.")

  15. i find your blog far more interesting than concentrating on writing anything of importance. i'm glad you are mixing it up for us!

  16. Green with envy as I have two ignored and unwanted manuscripts. Congrats!!!

  17. LMAO!

    There's this guy at the gas station near my Mom's house (in the middle of BFE) who tells everyone who walks in about his "book." He tells me two or three times a week. So I looked it up on Amazon, which he explained how to get to in painful detail as if I were an idiot who'd been living under a rock and never used the internet before.

    It's one of those self-published books. He doesn't even list himself as an author. But Mark Twain is, apparently. Anyway, he's convinced this is going to be his big break that will get him out of living in the two-stoplight town. The real kicker? The book is about "Getting from here to there." Hoop and I can't help but wonder... Where is there? The other side of the trailer park?

    THOSE kind of authors drive me nuts. You? You're lovely. I totally see you as being famous one day.

  18. I'm very impressed. Sometimes just writing a blog post gets a little out of control -- how on earth can you write a whole entire book??

  19. I love hearing your stories. By the time my career is over, I'll have done it every which way (publish, that is). My New York agent is hard at work with one of my novels and I've just gone ahead and published another on my own. As my Dad says, in another couple of years I'll be an overnight success.

  20. about that? A bit appropriate considering the email that I just sent you. I feel kind of weird all of a sudden...

    I know, I know, you're thinking; "kind of"?

  21. OMG, how NICE of you to plug ME! I just saw this and was like, "AWWWWWWW!"

    You rock! I also get that, "I have a great idea for you to write a book about," WTF is that all about?? Writer your OWN DAMN BOOK! lol.

  22. Oops, I meant WRITE not WRITER. Duh me. Ha, get it, duh-me, dummy. yep, that's me.