But first, the publishing news worth reading this week:
Pete Wells Has His Knives Out (Ian Parker for The New Yorker): This is a fun and fascinating profile of Pete Wells, “the restaurant critic of the Times, who writes a review every week—and who occasionally writes one that creates a national hubbub about class, money, and soup.” It’s a great inside look at the massive influence traditional media still holds, and it’ll also make you hungry.
Instagram Stories: Your New Favorite Way to Engage With Readers? (Martine Ellis for The Write Life): “If Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, what’s the point? Authenticity, engagement, and exposure. Unpolished snapshots of someone’s day are far more interesting than a carefully crafted flat lay featuring scattered rose petals and a strategically placed — albeit irrelevant — pair of vintage scissors.”
How to Be Active on Social Media without Losing Your Mind (Kirsten Oliphant on Jane Friedman.com): “The biggest issue I hear from people struggling with online marketing is TIME. Many writers struggle to balance social media and writing or creative work. Since we don’t have the option to go back before the age of Twitter, we are left with a few options…”
Jennifer Egan on Writing, the Trap of Approval, and the Most Important Discipline for Aspiring Writers (Brain Pickings): “You can only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly… Accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.”
4 Ways Introverts Can Get Comfortable with Video (And Happy Pub Day to Damn Delicious!)
I’m baaaccckkk. After two magical weeks of being away for our wedding and mini-honeymoon, Jarrett and I are both back at it.
First things first: yes, I will be sharing wedding photos with you all here! I’ve had a few requests for them already, and I can’t wait to see them myself the very second they hit my inbox. With any luck, we’ll all see them by next week.
A Quick Wedding Update
After we had our crazily wonderful wedding on Saturday the 27th, Jarrett and I took off to Mackinac Island in northern Michigan, where my mother-in-law had gifted us a gorgeous suite for two nights. It was perfect. And the view was beyond perfect—we had a large balcony with a view of the straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge, which connects lower Michigan to the Upper Peninsula. Stunning is the only word for it.
From there, we hopped back in the car and drove out to the Leelanau Peninsula to stay at Jarrett’s cottage in Northport. That was perfect in its own way—after pushing hard the whole month of August, we finally got to breathe deep and relax. Every morning we woke up, had some coffee, and read on the porch for a few hours. Is there any greater gift in this world than a slow morning? The very thought of it still makes me smile.
Because we wanted to squeeze out every last drop of our mini-moon, we stayed late up north, drove down to Ann Arbor Sunday night, then took off for DC on Labor Day. We got back to DC late, with not a single speck of food in the fridge, and an entire car full of wedding gifts to unpack. (I know, what an awful problem. Woe, woe, woe.)
We were starting the new workweek already behind, and the thought of 5 unplanned dinners stretching ahead of us was stressing me out. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate sad meals—those meals you sort of slop together that don’t taste very good and only serve to fill your stomach. I did not want to re-enter real life with only sad meals on the docket.
Which is precisely why I hang out with and represent smarter cooks than I am. Smarter cooks who just so happen to publish their quick-and-easy cookbook at the exact moment that I’m desperate for a whole week’s worth of quick-and-easy recipes.
So a hug and a thank you and a congratulations are all due to Chungah Rhee, whose cookbook, Damn Delicious: 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes, published this Tuesday!
Chungah has worked so incredibly hard on her book and her blog over many years, and I’m thrilled to finally hold her beautiful print book in my hands. Here’s the Damn Delicious book deal announcement, if you’re curious to read more about how her book came to be.
This cookbook is one you will use over and over again, I promise. Even Jarrett cooks Chungah’s recipes, and he doesn’t know a blanch from a braise. (There’s a true story behind that one, which I will spare you.)
To celebrate the release of Damn Delicious, I’m giving away a copy of the cookbook to one lucky reader, who’s going to have a whole lot of yummy food in their future. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to enter the giveaway!
Jarrett and I are also celebrating the release by cooking a whole week’s worth of Damn Delicious meals, since they’re that perfect mix of ridiculously easy + super simple that we need this week. Here’s what dinner looks like at our house this week:
Easy Burrito Bowls (We really needed to start the week with something healthy after a whole week of a beer-and-brats diet.)
Spaghetti Carbonara (+ roasted cauliflower)
Baked Honey Sriracha Wings (+ charred lemony cabbage)
One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese (+ broccoli + whatever Friday cocktail Jarrett makes up)
Well-fed wife, happy life, right?
In case Chungah’s gorgeous photos don’t win you over, take a look at the fabulous trailer and cover shoot videos her team created for the book launch. Now you know you want to buy the book. 😉
Chungah’s launch is also a great example of how a solid foundation in video can be a huge advantage when it comes time to launch your own book, whether it’s a novel, a cookbook, or a psychology book. In many ways, video is the new frontier for building relationships with the people you’re trying to help.
4 Ways Introverts Can Get Comfortable with Video
Whether you’re helping your audience avoid Sad Meals, learn to meditate, declutter their homes, or escape into a story, you can reach more people and do more good when you speak three-dimensionally to them.
How do you speak three-dimensionally to your audience? Think of it in terms of how you communicate with your friends and family:
- Emailing a friend is a great way to send an information-dense message, but they can’t see or hear you, so you’re communicating on only one plane. (I.e. text only, with no audio or visual inputs.) This is most like a blog post.
- Calling a friend allows you to hear their voice and share information, but you miss all the gestures and facial expressions that signal deeper meanings. (Text and audio, but no visual inputs.) This is most like a podcast.
- Video chatting combines all three inputs. It’s the closest you can get to sitting down across from a friend over dinner and catching up in person. In that setting, they have all three inputs to help them understand you: text (the words they say), audio (the tone of those words), and video (the body language that underscores their words).
That’s why video is so powerful for building engagement as a writer or blogger.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen that it’s also powerfully terrifying to most writers and bloggers. So many writers and bloggers are introverts used to living behind the keyboard, not in front of the camera, and the last thing they want to do is film themselves in action.
But please, remember that this doesn’t come naturally to anyone—I promise! I’ve seen firsthand how many flops and bloopers and failed attempts it takes before someone learns to shine on camera. The point is that you practice, that you make a commitment to push yourself into things that scare you, and then you laugh it off and try again when nothing goes right those first few times.
I’ve seen many of my authors start to experiment with video in the last year or so, as it’s become clear that video is vital for anyone who wants to stay competitive in the online world.
But I’ll tell you this secret: Most of the authors who are now hitting it out of the park with video started out completely averse to it. It’s been fascinating for me to watch how these top performers were able to coax themselves into trying this new format. And I really think anyone can make this breakthrough, if you just have the right mindset, tips, and a little bit of patience with yourself.
Here’s how I would coach an author to experiment with video, based on the strategies I’ve seen work for top-performing authors:
1. Start behind the camera.
Most authors don’t immediately feel comfortable chatting away to a camera, so they start small, usually by filming things around them and narrating them in short clips. Instagram Stories is perfect for this, and since it’s so new, it’s a huge opportunity right now to get your face and name at the very top of your followers’ Instagram feeds. And the beauty of Instagram Stories is that they disappear after 24 hours, so even if you flub a thing or two, it won’t live on forever.
Action step: Watch a few Instagram Stories of other writers and bloggers you admire and notice how very casual and low-production the clips can be. Then challenge yourself to film one (remember, you can delete it if you despise it!) and play around with it until you film a story you’re comfortable posting.
2. Experiment with demo videos.
The most common concern I hear from authors when it comes to video is “But I don’t know what to say!” And I get it: not everyone feels comfortable yakking away into their phone’s camera. This is where demo videos can be your best friend. Demo videos are immensely popular right now, and they can help ease you into video in a stress-free way. They can also be absolutely anything: a snappily edited recipe video that shows only your hands; a close-up of your hands editing your work-in-progress novel; a panned-out clip of you demonstrating a technique that’s part of your work.
Action step: Brainstorm the techniques that help you accomplish your work and that your audience might want to learn. It could be as simple as a special way you organize your ideas or as complex as a full walk-through of a project. Practice the technique on video, using text and background music to convey the steps if you don’t feel ready to narrate yet. Bonus: these videos will be very helpful once you enter the publishing process, as publicists are more able to book you on TV (especially live national morning shows) if you can show the producers that you’re already comfortable doing demos on camera.
3. Partner with a brand on a video.
Often brands will have the budgets to send a camera crew to you, write a script, and coach you through the process of creating a video where you’re the star. This is a great way to see how the pros do it and to begin to step in front of the camera, instead of just hiding behind it.
Action step: If you already work with certain brands, ask if they have any upcoming video campaigns you could participate in. If you’re not yet working with brands, you can brainstorm a few companies that might find what you do interesting and who have a crossover audience with you, then begin to build a relationship that could eventually lead to a video opportunity. Yes, this is a longer-term strategy, so I wouldn’t recommend waiting until you accomplish this step before jumping into the next. But you might be surprised what video opportunities come your way if you keep your eyes open!
4. Get live.
Yes, this is the tough one: filming yourself live on camera. But mastering live video is an essential skill if you’d ever like to get the top publicity appearances (morning shows, both local and national, can massively boost an author’s career). The sooner you can get comfortable with this, the sooner you’ll start enjoying, and even craving, the rush of live TV.
Action step: Give yourself a day to play around with filming yourself live, setting it up as much like a TV segment as possible. Maybe you do a demo on camera, or maybe you answer a few interview questions live. Coming across as stiff or nervous? Pro tip: have a friend in the room (or even on camera) to chat and laugh with, or bring your pet on set to relax you, or even pull a Kathie Lee and Hoda and have a glass of wine. (Just don’t get Hannah Hart on it, unless that’s you’re thing. In which case, respect.) Remember that the most important element of great live TV is that you look like you’re having fun, so try to focus more on enjoying the experience rather than nailing every line and cue.
As much as video may seem like your worst nightmare if you’re introverted, you might be very, very surprised how much fun you can have with it if you ease into it, approach it with playfulness, and give yourself a break when things go awry.
How do you all feel about video? Hate it? Love it? Want it to go away? I’d love to hear where you’re at!
This giveaway has ended, but thanks for checking!