Continuing our conversation with author Jason Boyett, formerly an award-winning creative director, graphic designer, and advertising copywriter. His books include Pocket Guide to Adulthood and Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse, as well as the brand-new Pocket Guide to the Bible (Relevant).
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WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Probably the same advice most established writers have given and will continue to give—to be a good writer you have to read a lot and write a lot. You have to practice your craft, and the best practice comes from doing the actual writing and studying the finished product.
But that’s become a boring advice-from-a-writer cliché, so I’ll give you one more: Aspiring writers need to meet people, whether online or in person. Don’t be ashamed to market yourself, to network, to be aggressive in attempting to get your foot in the door. Unfortunately, getting published often relies as much on who you know as it relies on what (and how) you write. So put yourself out there. Go to writer’s conferences. Write articles. Start up a blog, and make it good. Try to get published in online magazines, even if they don’t pay anything. Get your name in print. Make connections, and don’t be afraid to put those connections to work.
WHAT ASPECT OF GOD YOU HOPE READERS TAKE AWAY AFTER READING YOUR BOOKS?
That God is bigger than our eschatological systems (the Apocalypse book) or our confining notions of what the Bible is and how it’s supposed to be read (the new book).
I also hope they’ll see that it’s OK to see the humor in some of our religious stories and practices and beliefs. To acknowledge that humor is to acknowledge our humanity. As Christians, being willing to laugh at some of the weird things we do (predicting the Second Coming or pinpointing the Antichrist, for instance) is a good corrective. It keeps us humble. Besides, if we fail to see the funny stuff in, for example, the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal—if we’re worried that laughing about something in the Bible will get us struck by lightning or something—then we need to lighten up. Too often we equate spirituality with being real serious about stuff, and we forget that joy is a virtue.
WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
It’s not nearly as glamorous or lucrative as popularly depicted. We’re not all making $100,000 advances. Perhaps we’re a little bit more famous than the average guy on the street, but even the moderately successful ones are virtually unknown to the general population. Which is why the majority of published writers aren’t writing full-time as a career. They’re university professors or preachers or inspirational speakers or magazine editors.
WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
That it is physically and mentally impossible to write more than three or four books a year. I wish annoyingly prolific writers like Jerry Jenkins or Nora Roberts would realize this, because they make me look like an arthritic slug. Seriously, a normal person should not be able to write a novel in three weeks. I suspect witchcraft is involved.
FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING HE OR SHE CAN DO TO PROMOTE IT?
You mean, other than getting Oprah interested in it? For me, “best” means “least expensive, with biggest potiential impact.” That means taking advantage of free media, like blogs or email.
When I release a book, I send a witty, informative email out to virtually everyone I know, and then I ask them to forward it to everyone they know. It’s like virtuous spam, because together, all of us know quite a few people. And if I have friends or acquaintances who publish blogs, I always try to give them a free copy of the book, asking in return for a review on their blog. Consider the copies you give away to be the cost of doing business. It’s advertising.
BONUS: The Munsters or The Addams Family?
I’d go with The Munsters, since they’re little more than a cheap knock-off of The Addams Family, and I always root for the underdog.
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Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our conversation with Jason Boyett. In the meantime, find him online at JasonBoyett.com. Follow his virtual book tour here.
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 1
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 2
FAST LOOK: ANDY ANDREWS (The Seven Decisions)
CONVERSATION WITH ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt)