Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Ann Friedman

How Many #Women #NonFiction #Writers Have You Read?

There was a Twitter-Flap earlier this month about the rather well-known Male Non-Fiction Writer, Gay Talese.

When asked to name women non-fiction writers who influenced him, he said, “None”

And, Ann Friedman, A Female Non-Fiction Writer (who I’ve written about before), referred to Gay Talese’s situation in her New York Magazine article—The Queens of Nonfiction: 56 Women Journalists Everyone Should Read—by saying:

“Talese deserves the backlash. When it comes to naming influential women nonfiction writers of the past several decades, though, most of us fare only slightly better than he did.”

She also said:

“I’d always assumed this was partly because women, for decades, have missed out on the best writing assignments….But after Talese’s remarks, I started to wonder: Is it really true that almost no women were writing powerful narrative nonfiction before the 2000s?

“And so I went hunting for one good piece of nonfiction by a different woman writer published in every year since 1960, the year Esquire first published Talese. It was difficult. Most of this stuff just isn’t well archived digitally. And yes, far fewer women were working as magazine journalists in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s….But they were there.

“I found them — one for each of the past 56 years.”

You’ll have to take the link to Ann’s NYMag article to see all 56; but, I’ll give you the writers she listed that I’ve read (there are others in the list I’ve heard of but not read…):

Rachel Carson, “Silent Spring,” The New Yorker, 1962.

Gloria Steinem, “A Bunny’s Tale,” Show Magazine, 1963.

Gail Sheehy, “Inside Grey Gardens,” New York, 1972.

Susan Orlean, “Figures in a Mall,” The New Yorker, 1994.

Elizabeth Gilbert, “Lucky Jim,” GQ, 2002.

Samantha Power, “Dying in Darfur,” The New Yorker, 2004

Why did I read only a little over 10% of the authors mentioned in the list?

The reason (not excuse) was that I spent the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 00s reading only fiction, science, psychology, history, metaphysics, and religion (although, there may have been a few magazines I read with women writers; but, I don’t remember either the magazines or the women—or, even the male writers in that format…).

Thing is, there were many women writers in what I was reading for all those years—they just weren’t journalists

And, why do I even feel it necessary to account for my relationship to the list?

Basically, because I’m a man who’s acutely aware of the repression and neglect of women

Ann made her point so well I had to account for my actions :-)

I hope you’ll read her full article
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#BookMarketing ~ Making Sense of #AuthorPromotion

I’ve written here before about Book Marketing… 

I’ve discussed my disdain for the term “marketing” and my grudging acceptance of “Book Promotion“.

I’ve explained that snagging a traditional book deal doesn’t guarantee a writer can forget about promoting their book (unless that “writer” happens to be wildly famous…).

I’ve discussed the buzz-term, Author Platform (and, its cousin “Personal Branding”).

In fact, there’s an excellent article, by journalist Ann Friedman, that traces the history of Personal Branding and leaves you wondering whether current advice for writers is, in any way, rational. The title is very revealing—Me Inc. ~ The paradoxical, pressure-filled quest to build a “personal brand”.

Just one quote from the article:

“I’ve noticed a paradox: The more time I spend defining my personal brand, the more contrived it feels when I talk about myself.”

Even though the article casts a rather lurid light on branding, I recommend eager authors read it as part of their making sense of what to do to promote themselves.

One thing is certain.

If you publish a book and tell no one about it, no one will buy it—even if you want to give it away, no one will take it if you don’t tell them about it


Writers have a need to consider various promotional strategies and choose or create one that won’t drive them crazy


When I decided what to write about today, it actually wasn’t, at first, about what Ann Friedman had to say about Personal Branding.

It was about what Fauzia Burke, Founder & President of FSB Associates, has to say about Book Marketing.

She started her company in 1995 and there should be no surprise that she can say it was “one of the first firms to specialize in Internet publicity and marketing for publishers and authors”.

So, here’s me, not liking the term “Book Marketing”, in fact not liking most of what most anyone has to say about the topic; and, here’s the title of an article by the Founder of one of the first companies to specialize in the field—10 Things I Know for Sure About Book Marketing.

I’m going to list those ten things and urge you to go read the full article—also, I must ask you to be aware that some of her points sure don’t sound like a person who runs a marketing firm

1. You can’t just do social media.

2. Don’t try and do everything.

3. Don’t try to promote your book to everyone.

4. The tortoise can beat the hare.

5. The age of generalists is over.

6. Think long-term.

7. Talking to people is a great privilege.

8. Go for engagement.

9. Start now.

10. Give value to your customer.

If you happen to read Fauzia’s article (and/or Ann’s), I’d love it if you could share your thoughts and feelings in the Comments
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