7/17/2015 – Borrowing from Nonfiction.
I came across a book called Yes! last week that is full of inspirational and motivational quotes. The quotes struck a chord with this agent-seeking writer. All of us creatives need to carry around a book like that. I keep a list of inspirational quotes in front of me like this one from Serena Williams: “You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.” Or this one from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” Or this familiar one from Albert Einstein: “A ship is always safe at the shore—but that is not what it is built for.”
I also keep handy a copy of Rotten Reviews and Rejections, edited by Bill Henderson and Andre Bernard. This is a collection of reviews and rejections that slammed the work of writers now considered classics. For instance, John Dunlop in 1814 called Gulliver’s Travels “…evidence of a diseased mind and lacerated heart.” The Odessa Courier called Anna Karenina “Sentimental rubbish….Show me one page that contains an Idea.” Rotten Reviews and Rejections is an hilarious read.
Speaking of helpful books, I just bought a copy of Influence by psychologist Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. The book has been around a long time and most of the persuasive strategies he talks about are familiar to us. These include the principle of reciprocity which is seen in the “gifts” of labels and notepads that come along with the plea for a reciprocal gift, i.e., a donation. And the use of endorsements from “people like you” or from fake authority figures. I’m wondering how tactics described in the book could be used in query letters or cover designs. Am I joking?
And this makes me think how useful marketing, public relations, and promotion courses would be for a writer or artist. In fact, almost any field—Communications, Architecture, Engineering as well as English literature and the Creative Arts—could benefit from knowing more about these commercial skills.
Unfortunately, schools compartmentalize, leaving it up to the student to be astute enough to pick up helpful optional courses if the school permits it. Writers conferences often offer workshops on these subjects, but all of us writers and artists could use a full curriculum of business courses. It might make the difference between a successful career and a moribund one.