This past January we brought you 101 Secrets to Indie Rock Success, and you seemed to like it. Now, we offer you a quick and dirty guide to making it in the Brooklyn writing world (with a little help from our friends). And remember, always use this knowledge for good, never for evil...
1) Don't be afraid to use people—friends, relatives, former professors—use them for all they're worth so that they can get your name and your work out there.
2) Become comfortable with the fact that all you can afford to eat is Top Ramen. Find ways to dress it up. Add red food coloring to the broth so that it looks like entrails, or something. Or you could just add frozen broccoli. THat’s good too.
3) Develop a quirky writerly personality trait like only writing first drafts in longhand. This way you'll be interesting in interviews once you make it big.
4) Answer emails promptly. This is always appreciated. No matter how big you get. The rule is that it’s only cool to blow off phone calls. Email must be answered.
5) Have a consistent email sign-off. Probably it shouldn’t involve x’s or o’s.
6) Allow yourself to dream big every once in awhile and spend the day practicing the Mona Lisa-esque
smile that you’ll use for your press photo.
7) Think of famous authors who have had haircuts that you like. Consider getting a similar haircut. Re-consider. Bangs take a long, awkward time to grow out.
8) Practice your signature so that book signings will go smoothly. Still remember to stay away from the x’s and o’s.
9) Buy a black turtleneck so that you will look appropriately author-y when you do, eventually, pose for that book jacket photo.
10) And about that author photo? Quit looking so fucking smug. Your book is probably gonna sell, like, eight copies.
11) Develop a system to keep yourself organized. It can be a notebook, it can be Evernote, just make sure you'll be able to write and edit at all times in a place where it won't get lost.
12) Many people still use Facebook. Make sure you have a Facebook that you use to promote yourself, although not too enthusiastically.
13) Make sure to tell your mom to stay away from your Facebook. You don’t want her liking everything. Moms have no self-control.
14) Make sure you have an active Twitter account.
15) Make sure you have an active Instagram feed.
16) Adopt a cat and name it after your favorite snack food.
17) Tweet about your new cat, Sir Spicy Thai Kettle Chips. Call him Sir Spicy for short.
18) You may also adopt a dog, but it must be either comically small or large. No in-betweeners.
19) Name the dog after a dead, but beloved, literary figure. Not enough people name their dogs Roberto Bolaño, but they should.
20) Take a series of Photo Booth pics with #s 16 and 19, post them 2 to 3 times per week on #14 and #15. This is non-negotiable.
21) Pick a signature, bar (and drink), restaurant, coffee shop, etc. Make these your haunts.
22) Having a "thing" makes you easier to write about.
23) Pick a “thing” that isn’t already somebody else’s “thing.” For example, veganism is Jonathan Safran Foer’s. Let him have that. Pick something else.
24) Make sure you have one alcoholic family member to make your memoir sellable.
25) Make sure you have one non-alcoholic family member to make your memoir fact-checkable.
26) Find someone you really, really trust to read your work
27) Actually listen to what they tell you.
28) Write even when you'd rather eat microwaved cream cheese while watching Hoarders.
29) Finish things. Just finish them. It'll feel good.
30) Go to readings; if you hear something you like, introduce yourself to the reader and tell them you liked what they read. Everyone will be happy.
31) Read more. You think read a lot? Read more than that. Everything. Just read.
32) Specifically, read old things and new things. Don't confine yourself to genre or era.
33) And then write the stories you want to read.
34) Hang out with Ben Greenman as much as possible.
35) Only talk about your novel when asked about it. Seriously.
36) Send out your stories widely and often.
37) Crave rejection.
38) Read your work aloud to yourself.
39) Read it aloud to others.
40) Be brave.
41) Don't write boring sentences.
42) Be a human being in your submission letter—you're not applying for a job at the State Department.
43) Don't synopsize your story in your submission letter.
44) Pay attention to where you're sending stories: your Buffy fanfiction might be good, but Agrarian Poetry Review probably doesn't want it.
45) And please follow the formatting requests of the places you submit.
46) Follow up with places after a reasonable amount of time has passed. People aren’t usually jerks. Everyone forgets to respond to emails once in a while.
47) Be ruthless with yourself. Almost everything could be half as long and better for it.
48) Obsessively follow the advice of lists.
49) Recklessly ignore the advice of lists.
50) Make more lists.
51) Do a lot of writing. It doesn’t all have to be good. But it all has to be written. At some point, the good bits will start to add up to something and you’ll know you deserve a break.
52) Do things that aren't writing, like dancing and drugs.
53) Follow strangers into parties.
54) Talk to other people at the bar, especially people who don't look like you.
55) Twitter's great isn't it? Log off of Twitter.
56) Only date other writers, and only those than whom you're better (or more successful).
57) Go to Brooklyn College and make friends. So many local writers and book people come out of there.
58) Become friendly with Penina Roth, because she knows everybody.
59) It’s all about making friends really. They will populate your book readings and tweet about how awesome you are. Use them. USE THEM.
60) But use your friends wisely. Don’t take them for granted. They’re not your parents. Bake your friends banana bread or help them move. This will show them you love them and will inspire them to help you more.
71) It doesn’t hurt to have an interesting tattoo. It might not help, but it won’t hurt. Well, it might hurt a little, but you get the point.
72) Leave Brooklyn for a while. Go anywhere. But leave Brooklyn.
73) Come back to Brooklyn and write about where you’ve been. Maybe you spent time as a long haul trucker. Maybe you were fishing for tilapia in the Salton Sea. Write about it.
74) It’s good—it’s important—to have lots of friends. But also, have at least one really, really good friend who will be honest with you and tell you that you are a writer and you will always be a writer and that you must never give up that dream.
75) It is so important to have someone who believes you are a genius.
76) That person cannot be in your family. Nor can it be you.
77) Make sure you can make good coffee and always have a cup ready. Some people, even some writers, don’t drink caffeine, but they are wrong and probably won’t enjoy great indie success.
78) Make sure you have a bunch of plaid flannel shirts. These are just comfortable as hell and winter is coming.
79) The first time you get paid for your work, consider framing the check because it’s your first as a writer and it’s only $50. Deposit it immediately because, hey, that’s $50! That’s now a lot of money for you.
80) Read. What are you reading? You should be reading everything. Books. News. The New Yorker. But most of all keep informed by reading n+1, Electric Literature, Tin House, The Coffin Factory, Vol 1. Read these because you’ll probably run into some of the people who are involved at these places and you’ll want to be informed before you talk to them.
82) Be careful whom you do favors for. There's a balance between being an asshole who does everything quid pro quo and being a sucker who's too generous. Don't compromise your integrity, you'll regret it.
Jason Diamond, Vol 1
83) Start writing and go meet people.
Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Greenlight
84) Pursue what you love. But don't assume you know where that will take you.
85) Be open to possibilities, be willing to work, and don't forget that you actually like books.
Jenn Northington, Word
86) Stay flexible, and by that I mean, have different options for events, good partner locations, and an open mind about event proposals.
87) Make sure you know your audience. If you can't imagine ahead of time the people who will come to any given event, you're probably not the right person to host it.
88) Oh, and something I learned from a friend and former colleague, Stephanie Anderson (who is now working in the library world): If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.
Halimah Marcus, Electric Literature
89) The most important thing is to be supportive of your community. Go to readings, shop at your local independent bookstore. Subscribe to literary magazines.
90) Pay attention to people's work and if you like it, tell them so.
Benjamin Samuel, Electric Literature
91) If you're starting a new magazine, take advantage of the community: connect with writers, editors, and booksellers, and get involved with a reading series.
92) And save money wherever you can.
93) Use digital publishing, or print-on-demand.
94) Share an office space.
95) Learn to cook and cut your own hair.
Rebecca Fitting, Greenlight Bookstore
96) Always be reading, both in and out of your comfort zone. I can't tell you how many times I read books because 'I had to' only to look back and be thankful for the discoveries.
Mike Lala, Fireside Follies
97) Write a lot, and write well.
98) Or flaunt your defects like gold rings and stroke egos every chance you get. Either one seems to work just fine, as long as you're attractive and not working class.
99) Being pretty and running the right circuits works so well for a lot of people, and it's easy to deride as vapid and undeserving of note. But then again, it's just as easy to work in isolation, unrecognized.
100) Here's my yogi moment: balance.
101) Be a fuckin hustler'.