The newest Red Sofa Chats have been in the works for a short while, as my guest, Christina Katz, is writing a book! For some time I’ve made her book Get Known Before the Book Deal required reading with anyone who crosses my path. Being primarily a nonfiction agent, my own belief of a need for a strong writing platform is very much aligned with Christina’s approach to the publishing world. Especially for any nonfiction writers who aspire to be published.
Many thanks to Christina for joining The Red Sofa Chats! 🙂
Bio: Christina Katz is the author of the forthcoming Writer’s Digest book, The Writer’s Workout, 366 Tips, Tasks & Techniques From Your Writing Career Coach. She also wrote Get Known Before the Book Deal: Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids. An introverted extrovert and social artist, Katz holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA in English from Dartmouth College. She is a “gentle taskmaster” to one hundred or so students each year, distilling over a decade of professional writing and teaching into success strategies that help grow writing careers. Christina writes in a cottage near Portland, Oregon where she lives with her husband, daughter, and far too many pets.
I am not sure I chose to become a writer as much as writing chose me. I am a writer, which makes it hard to do anything else. I have other abilities and passions, but I try to weave them in with my writing career as I go along. This attitude seems to work for me.
2. I personally see you as an advocate for writers, providing them tools for a positive publishing experience. What motivated you to take this role?
I have a contradictory nature; I always have. On one hand I’m an introvert, which means I’m truly happiest alone in a room writing. However, I think of myself as an extroverted introvert. In other words, keeping to myself too much for too long makes me socially stupid. Therefore, I need to get out and circulate and soak in what’s happening. I also meet and connect with really interesting people this way. To complicate matters — or at least this used to complicate matters before the Internet age — I have some natural leadership ability, which means I like to motivate people to work harder and achieve more.
I think some of this is innate and some is learned from the wonderful coaches that I had as a kid and the series of mentors through my life. I played a lot of sports and was often chosen to be a team captain growing up. The tricky part is, and always has been, being able to continue growing myself while still helping others grow. Luckily, when I matriculated to college, I purchased one of the very first 124K Macs. Without all the Macs I’ve had over the years, I would not have been able to grow my career the way I have. Needless to say, I am very grateful to Steve Jobs.
3. What are you reading right now (for fun)?
Right now I am reading nothing for fun because I am writing a 100,000-word book, writing two new course curriculums, editing three old course curriculums, and creating a marketing plan for my next book.
However at bedtime my husband is reading my daughter one of my favorite books from childhood, “The Borrowers,” and I am listening in. I also combed through four shelves of books on writing, marketing, inspiration, and creativity to inform The Writer’s Workout. When I am reading for fun, it’s often nonfiction that is short and funny, like essays by Nora Ephron or Anne Lamott. I am probably not the most well-read person on the block. I also watch a little TV, enjoy movies, and know a thing or two about pop culture. I would make a lousy member of the literati.
4. Writers are frustrated about having to write and market their work. How do you manage all(the work) that being a 21st century author requires?
I go through two distinct phases in my book writing cycle: the writing phase, which is necessarily more reclusive, and the promotional phase, which is necessarily more social.
So I’m not very active at all on social networking right now, because I’m in an intensive writing phase. How could I be on Twitter all day and write a 100,000-word book at the same time? I can’t. I hop on and off again in quick bursts. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything, although I know that people are having fun on there. I value my attention too much to wholesale turn it over to Twitter or any other form of social media (except maybe Facebook).
5. How do you utilize Twitter? How do you believe it has changed the way we go about publishing books?
In the big picture, I see social media as a tool for social artistry, which is a form of leadership. Authors have to be conversant with all the social media tools without getting preoccupied with any of them. I don’t think that Twitter should change the way we go about publishing books, because only a portion of the population is on Twitter and I don’t see the day when everyone will be on it. However, Twitterers are the most tech-savvy, early-adopter, smart-phone carrying kind of audience, so naturally they are a very important and influential tribe.
Twitter has changed the way we spread the word about books, ideas, and everything else. I see social media as a suite of tools that can be used by creative people to do good things. It helps me keep things in perspective when I step back from online tools; putting them back to good use (without getting overwhelmed) when I am using them. When I’m not on social media as much, I don’t concern myself with it overly. I have plenty to do. I keep myself completely booked.
6. If you had a crystal ball, where do you think (or hope) publishing will be in 5 years?
I think we are seeing the effect already that “the long tail” has had on publishing (described by Chris Anderson in his book of the same name). The good news is that there is more pie available to the little guys, and the little guys now include authors and content curators. So imagine publishing not so much focusing around best-sellers, but focusing instead on the people who do and embody the coolest stuff. That’s where we are headed. We are already halfway there. Aspiring authors should not only be cultivating those all-important writing and selling skills (which they need), they also be asking themselves, “How can I take what I have to offer and do something cool with it using the tools that are available to me right now?”
I ask myself this question every day. It certainly keeps the creative pistons pumping.
This was wonderful Christina! Thank you so much! Let us know what you think. What has social media done for you? Have you read Christina’s books, and what have they done for you?