Frequently Asked Questions
Appearances & Signed Books
Can you speak at my bookstore/school/book club?
It will mostly depend on scheduling—I'm limiting my speaking engagements (except for book tour!) in order to focus on writing another book. Contact my publicist, Juliana Kiyan, or Erin Simpson at the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau, with your event details—their information is on my Contact page.
How can I get a signed copy of your book?
If I've been in your town recently, signed copies are sometimes available at your local bookstore. Otherwise, you can order one from Porter Square Books (no extra cost for a signed copy) and they'll mail it to you.
I'm a writer just starting out. Do you have any advice?
Here's a piece I wrote about my own tips for beginning writers, and here's an interview with The Writer magazine in which we talk about my writing process and some advice for new writers. Janet Burroway's Writing Fiction and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird are great books on craft, while for advice on the writing life, Stephen King's On Writing and Betsy Lerner's The Forest For the Trees may be helpful. For advice on getting published and on agents, AgentQuery.com is an excellent site—check the "Resources" section at the top for lots of concrete advice.
Would you blurb my book?
I wish I could blurb everyone who asked, but I'm trying to balance blurbing with my own work (and all the rest of life!). If you'd like to ask for a blurb, please have your editor contact my agent, Julie Barer—her info is on my contact page. Please note that like most writers, I don't blurb books before they're under contract for publication. I wish you the best of luck with your book!
Can you critique my work?
My schedule doesn't allow me to offer critiques, but if you're looking for feedback, there are many great editors out there who can help. Your city may have a writers' organization (like Grub Street in Boston, The Loft in Minneapolis, Sackett Street in NYC, Hugo House in Seattle, or Politics & Prose in DC); that's usually the best place to start.
I'm writing a paper on your work. Can you answer some questions for me?
First, thank you for writing about my work! Unfortunately I'm not able to answer individual questions, but there are lots of interviews in which I've answered almost every question you can think of, from serious stuff like my writing habits and what I like to read and in-depth craft topics and thoughts on race to fun stuff like what I carry with me while traveling and what I eat for breakfast. Some of them are listed here, and you can find many more via Google. Good luck!
I'd like to try writing fiction. Do you have any advice?
I'm so glad to hear that! Read a lot—things you love, and also things outside your comfort zone. (Think of it as trying a new food: you don't have to finish it, but at least take a taste. You never know what will spark new ideas for you.) Write a lot—like playing an instrument or a sport, it takes practice. Keep at it. Most importantly, tell the stories that are important to you. Write the stories that you'd want to read yourself, the stories you need to tell, the stories you need to hear. It doesn't matter if they get published or read—it can be great if they do, but writing them down is the important part.