Craft Book Review: Booklife by Jeff Vandermeer

Reviewed by Stephanie Williams

Booklife by Jeff Vandermeer
ISBN: 978-1-4081-2913-5
A&C Black Publishers Limited – 2009

Booklife is not your usual guide to writing – instead of teaching plots and structures it covers how to market yourself as a writer and how to survive within the dizzy maze of social media available. Despite its publication four years ago the book is still up to date and relevant.

One of the biggest threats to a writer is social media. We can waste hours a day updating our Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and with only so many hours in a day when do we fit in the actual writing. Well Vandermeer looks at each platform, reviewing its ability to assist in our careers and dismissing those that are just simply a waste of time. Of course wasting time isn’t the only threat that social media poses – we all know that sometimes the content can be just as destructive to our careers. How many times have you read articles about a celebrity tweeting something inappropriate or downright stupid?

...even if you only read the chapter on writing Blogs this book is worthwhile.

 This book talks about the temperament of your posts, and whether or not you should ‘release your inner evil monkey’ in your blog posts. On reading an Agent’s blog last year I saw an article on how before signing up a new author they read their blogs and anything on-line they can find, if the author always seems angry or ungrateful then they are less likely to sign them. Nobody wants a difficult client after all, so even if you only read the chapter on writing Blogs this book is worthwhile.

Networking can be a dirty word to a writer, someone used to squirrelling themselves away while they work can be terrified by the idea of stepping outside their comfort zone and plugging their work to complete strangers. Booklife looks at everything from overcoming fear of contacting people to dealing with editors and publicists. It looks at the various PR opportunities that are available and how to create your own PR plan so your book doesn’t get lost on the shelf. Writers need to push themselves and Vandermeer helps to make this prospect a little less daunting.

Booklife is more than just a practical guide to finding your way around marketing though, it is also a private guide to surviving all the things that come along with publication. The book covers how to deal with bad reviews and how to revitalise your creativity when it hits a low. There is a chapter on finding inspiration and revising your work, offering practical tips on writing because everyone knows that while you’re waiting for a book to be published your busily working on your next one.

Vandermeer’s suggestions for the actual construction of blog posts will never lose its pertinence in my opinion.

The downside of the book is that at some point it will become dated. Social media is organic and always changing, new ideas come up all the time and so inevitably this book will be in need of a revision. However, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are unlikely to ever lose their popularity or relevance. Blogs will always be an excellent vehicle for writers to speak to the wider world and even if the technical side changes, Vandermeer’s suggestions for the actual construction of blog posts will never lose its pertinence in my opinion.

The back of the book offers examples of PR Marketing Summaries and some short essays by other writers on various challenges they have faced.

All in all Booklife is well worth checking out, especially for debut authors who have never been published and are baffled by everything that comes next.

Stephanie has been the North West Regional Co-ordinator for the SCBWI for the past four years (I think) and writes young adult novels. She sub edits for Words & Pictures and is also a past Editor.


  1. I want to read this book for Vandermeer's thought on the construction of blog posts!

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