Don’t Live for Your Obituary: Advice, Commentary and Personal Observations on Writing, 2008–2017

John Scalzi. Subterranean, $40 (472p) ISBN 978-1-59606-858-2
Bestselling SF novelist Scalzi (The Collapsing Empire) serves up nuggets of advice on the writing trade in this bountiful gleaning of posts from two decades of his blog, Whatever. The (mostly brief) entries are divided into five main sections: writerly advice drawn from his personal experience; tips for promoting one’s work; observations on the work of friends and other writers; discussions of controversial topics (e.g., the right-wing “Sad Puppies” campaign to influence voters at the Hugo Awards); and reflections on his own career path and interests. Specific topics include the expectations of M.F.A. graduates, the futility of anticipating how posterity will treat a writer (in the title essay), and appreciations of Neil Gaiman, Jay Lake, Terry Pratchett, and other colleagues. Scalzi takes an encouraging and sometimes protective tone toward less-established authors, as with his repeated advice that authors value their work enough to avoid low-paying publication platforms because their work “deserves better than a market that values it... poorly.” Above all he writes accessibly and so commonsensically that this book should appeal to writers in all disciplines, and even to SF readers who have no ambitions to write themselves. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/16/2017
Release date: 12/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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