You cannot let the need to be good stop you from trying. A lot of my content is garbage when it first comes out, but I am willing to stare the garbage in the face and make it better.
Los Angeles-based author Taylor Jenkins Reid worked in film casting before deciding to pursue her love of storytelling. Meeting Jennifer Aniston was the impetus she needed to focus on a writing career. Now having launched her fifth book she talks to us about building a supportive community of author friends, how bookstagrammers and bloggers have been invaluable in promoting her work and keeping to a tight publishing schedule.
What made you want to be a writer?
I was always attracted to storytelling, but it took me a long time to figure out what part of it suited me. I went to school for film and television, worked in feature film casting for a while, and then realized that I wanted to be a writer. That eventually led to the realization that I wanted to write novels. But there were a lot of false starts and zig-zags along the way.
What inspires you to write?
I’m pulled in by themes and ideas. I find myself excited about certain concepts – love, family, marriage, loss, etc. – and then a premise starts to take shape that allows me to tackle that idea.
As my work changes and grows – and as I grow – I’m also being drawn in by a sense of time and place. What decade do I want to get lost in? What vibe? Where do I want to pretend I live for a little while?
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I suppose I’d say that you cannot let the need to be good stop you from trying. A lot of my content is garbage when it first comes out, but I am willing to stare the garbage in the face and make it better. I know people say, “Good is the enemy of great.” But great can be the enemy of starting.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
It is so incredibly hard to separate your work from the pack. If you are one of those authors that gets a huge book deal out of the gate, you might get the support you need to really break out early. But most have to push and keep pushing to get a few more readers with every book. But a few new readers at a time can snowball.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
I would not be where I am today without book bloggers talking about my work. Bookstagrammers and book bloggers both big and small make a huge difference in attracting attention to good books.
How do you make time for your book marketing?
I keep to a very tight schedule that allows for me to finish one book just before the previous one publishes. When this works out, I can shift gears and move toward marketing and publicity. But sometimes the answer is doing edits on planes, working on two books at one time, writing until the wee hours of the morning, and approaching my energy and time with a cost/benefit analysis. I have to know my limits and know when things aren’t worth the stress.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
The thing about rejection is that it hurts and then you get over it. And as obvious as that is to point out, that’s all you can really do to handle it. I live with the stings until they go away and I know that another sting will come and I’ll live through that one. The reward is too lovely to be deterred.
But this is all easier said than done. Sometimes, a project doesn’t go as far as I want or I get turned down, or someone hates my work and writes about it for everyone to see and I boil and bubble up. But it never lasts. So I just try to remind myself of that.
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
I have a lot of writer friends! Part of the joy of being an author is meeting other authors, and I have so many people I have met through this business that I will text or email or chat with to say, “This sucks!” or "What are you working on?" I cannot recommend this enough. Find people who are at the same stage you are and engage. Social media is perfect for this. I have so many writer friends I’ve never met in person.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Get on Twitter and Instagram and engage with it meaningfully, so it’s there for when you need to plug your own work. Find me and say hi!