Read, Eat, Drink: Author Websites, Pasta Roundup, and The Minimum Sage Cocktail


Are you a writer? Do you have a website? If you answered yes to the first question and no to the second, get thee over to and sign up for a website, STAT. Mike Shatzkin, a publishing insider who writes a great marketing blog, wrote a post this week that sent shudders of horror through me.

He pointed out that many authors don’t have websites, and even worse, that now some publishers are thinking about building and owning websites for their bestselling authors. This is so fraught with complications (which I won’t get into here, since Shatzkin covers them already), and it’s also shortsighted. The impact the Internet will have on publishing is coming into crisper focus every day, and it’s no longer possible to turn away from the fact that authors must have an online presence. Every single one of them. And that presence must be owned and managed by the author, or by an employee or consultant working on behalf of the author.

I feel a bit like a crazed doomsday prophet screeching about the interwebs sometimes, but take heed, authors, for the Internets shall not pass!  The online world isn’t going to go away, and it’s becoming an increasingly important part of our offline world. You need to exist in both places. And if you don’t have a website or some form of social media, you don’t exist to the all-powerful Google, and you don’t exist to the millions of potential readers who are looking for someone like you. So, I repeat, in my most annoyingly nagging tone possible: get a website!

Read the rest of Shatkin’s article here.


Lately, I’ve been craving pasta. Just kidding. Every single day of my life since birth I’ve craved pasta. I predict that 50 years from now someone will isolate the addicted-to-pasta gene on a strand of DNA, and I will finally have answers about my condition. Until then, let’s all drool over these ridiculously good-looking bowls of pasta:

Reginetti with Savoy Cabbage

Reginetti with Savoy Cabbage and Pancetta. That reginetti is so cute I could just eat it right up.  (I guess that’s the point, huh?) Recipe here.

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What Does It Mean to Have an Engaged Audience, and Why Does It Matter?


how to make readers more engaged

Engagement. It’s a buzz word in both blogging and publishing, but what does it actually mean? Is it the next “synergy”–my favorite marketingspeak word that I love to hate?

As I wrote about here, a lot of my process of sorting through potential clients involves looking at hard numbers—traffic stats, social media followers, subscribers, etc. But in reality, what I’m looking for underneath all of that is simply engagement. Does the potential author have a highly engaged audience? Do they already have a large group of fans who would fork over their hard-earned cash for a book?

This could be an audience of millions, in which 10% of the people are engaged enough to make a purchase, or it could be an audience of 50,000, where every last person would gladly exchange $21.95 for your book. The size of the total audience matters to a certain extent, but when it comes down to it, it’s really the conversion rate that means the difference between a bestseller and a flop. (I wrote more about the “stickiness” factor of engagement and conversion rates here.)

Conversion rate can sound like more empty marketingspeak (one of my writing pet peeves!), but it’s really a simple concept that boils down to this: how close are you to your audience? Think of this closeness like you’d think of your real-life social circles, where you have varying levels of familiarity with everyone from your spouse to your mailman. Here’s what that usually looks like:

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9 Books That Will Make You a Better Writer

craft writing books to make you a better writer

Today I’m over on Bustle Books, sharing a list of my favorite books on writing and publishing. I think that, all too often, aspiring authors overlook craft books, thinking that it’s more worthwhile to read within your genre and soak up the style and form of someone else’s writing.

But there’s so much more to honing your craft than reading good books. There are underlying principles to all good writing, regardless of the genre, and it can take an entire lifetime to not only identify them, but execute them well. And who the heck has that much time? Especially with all the added pressure these days for authors to network, use social media, and build platforms.

So think of these books as your shortcut to learning the ins and outs of writing. Each of them is a master class in everything from decluttering your prose, to conquering procrastination, to building a platform, to plain old staying sane.

Read the full article here to see which books I think are essential for writers!

Read, Eat, Drink–Weekend Roundup



I loved seeing the lively debate happening on last week’s post about the need for an author platform. Is it just nonfiction writers who need to be concerned about platform? Or will the platform-pressure rise for fiction writers as the industry changes?

My guess? I see platforms becoming increasingly important for even fiction writers over the next few years. Look at the new crop of mega stars like John Green and Maureen Johnson–they’ve mastered the art of authentically connecting with fans. And this idea of “authentically connecting with fans” is really what platform is about. It’s not about shameless self-promotion, building a sales page for your book, or really, about selling your book at all. It’s about caring about the people who read your work, wanting to get to know them, and relishing your conversations with them. The Economist captured the new authorpreneurship movement well last week:

Authors are becoming more like pop stars, who used to make most of their money selling albums but who now use their recordings as promotional tools, earning a living mainly from concerts. The trouble with many budding writers is that they are not cut out for this new world. They are often introverts, preferring solitude to salesmanship. Readers these days want to get to know the creators of the books they buy. Diffident authors may feel uncomfortable with getting so close to their fans. But only the likes of Ms Lee can afford to stay mysterious.

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