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How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  497 ratings  ·  119 reviews
This may come as a shock, but brilliant writing and clever wordplay do not a published author make. True, you'll actually have to write if you want to be a writer, but ultimately literary success is about much more than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys). Before you snap your pencil in half with frustration, please consider the advice writer, teacher, and self-made ...more
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Published March 27th 2007 by Three Rivers Press (CA) (first published January 1st 2007)
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Jennifer Fosket
Ariel Gore has been unknowingly stalking me since we were both at Mills College over 15 years ago. When I was pregnant with my first daughter her Hipmama book, zine and website (and now defunct but once awesome discussion board on the website) hurtled me into a world where mothering, politics, creativity, activism, and intellectual musings were all inextricably combined. Now, her latest book has come out just in time to feed my novel writing dreams and fantasies. It’s filled with inspiration, hu ...more
It's sort of embarrassing to be caught reading this book, because of the title. Or I felt that way, anyhow. But I'm owning up to it here. It filled me with a kind of firey energy for both producing writing and getting it out into the world. In that sense, it was very useful. It's pragmatic and doesn't really romanticize "the writing life." I liked that. I also liked that it discussed both how to get published and also self-publishing of various forms.
Sara Habein
What I like about this book is that while it has certain indie-hippie undertones, it doesn’t make any judgements one way or another about what the ‘best’ way to publish is. Self-publish, find an agent, make your own zines, start a blog, go for the big publishing house deal — do whatever works for you. “Be as crazy as you are,” she says.

Though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to people just beginning the writing process — better to get books that concentrate more on craft for that — but
Feb 21, 2008 Michelle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers dreamers artists freelancers
a truly inspiring, pleasurable read, even for a writer who's been at it a while. ariel gore is not only hilarious and brilliant, she's encouraging in a non-sappy, un-condescending way. plus, she's brazen as anything in her determination to get her work out there. by the end of this book, you will be too. i think this book would be helpful for artists/photogs/etc too, just like anne lamott's bird by bird is. also, i thought the dave barry interview alone was worth the price of admission.
a beautiful and compelling kick in the pants.
Dec 01, 2009 Julene rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julene by: Ruby Kane
Shelves: about-writing
I certainly enjoyed this book, especially the interviews with cutting edge self-promoted writers. Mostly geared towards fiction or memoir writing, she talks about book proposals and how to set up tours. As much as I enjoyed this book, I kept wanting to get more out of it than I did. It's a good fast read that at some level inspires, but for me it had a level of discouragement because I can't put on a pink tutu to get readers into my readings, I just can't. She can and did. It's a different gener ...more
Susan Davis
As Ariel's inspiration to write this book came from a promise to a young writer who tragically died before she had the chance to mentor her, for that reason alone, this book has particular relevance for me. Writing is usually a very solitary experience - so new writers in particular, really need a connection to good mentors if they ever expect to be heard or earn a living at writing. This book can serve as one of those great writing mentors. Even an experienced writer can glean a lot from this b ...more
Bat Hughes
Earthy, entertaining, honest, insightful and moving -- I found this book at the what-the-hell-am-I-doing-writing-a-novel-when-I'm-struggling-to-survive point of my current project.

Her riffs on creating a superhero to handle challenging parts of the writing life, her interviews with writers who embody several kinds of success, her gritty bits about her process and journey, her delving into areas of writing and putting the work out there that hit the heart of fear -- it's a raw, worthwhile ride.
I have a total girl-crush on Ariel Gore in the I Want To Be A Writer Like She Is When I Grow Up sense. All of her books are amazing, and this one is one I consider a must-read for any writer working on building their platform.
Sep 08, 2008 Brittanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brittanie by: Rand Faust and writer's group girls
Less a book about writing and more a book about self promotion, Still the best book on the craft I've ever read.
In the writing school of my dreams, Susie Bright is the guidance counselor. She lays down some harsh truths, tells you exactly what you need
to succeed, then spends her break viewing porn at her desk. The second denizen of my dream school is Ariel Gore, the cheerleader, whose boundless
optimism can be boiled down to three words: fight, fight, fight!

To be a writer one must write. Simple enough, but it's no more helpful than saying that to be a football player, one must play football. Gore's
skill is
While I am not typically into the How-To books, but rather the books on craft (if there is a distinction), the title and Ms. Gore's reputation were to compelling for me to not give this a look.

I found it engaging and a quick read and despite my differing opinions with some of it or her writing style (which again, could just be my aversion to the genre) I did find it valuable, just not in the way I expected.

Having run through some of the usual suspects in craft and how-to, AND having attended my
This is aimed at people who haven't published anything yet. It doesn't have an index. I think it should have at least included a list of the authors interviewed. I didn't like the table of contents being in paragraph form - it should be a table.

Here are links to the authors interviewed:

Marc AcitoMarc Acito

Julie Alvarez

Ursula K. Le GuinUrsula K. Le Guin

Floyd Salas

Michelle TeaMichelle Tea

Dave BarryDave Barry

Ayun HallidayAyun Halliday

Moe Bowstern

Jim MunroeJim Munroe

Susie BrightSusie Bright

Dave EggersDave Eggers

Bertice Berry

Daphne GottliebDaphne Gottlieb

Margaret ChoMargaret Cho

Erika LopezErika Lopez
If you want an easy way to learn the ins and outs of publishing and doing the grueling hard work of attempting to make writing your prime income source, with with which you clothe and feed yourself, then How to Become Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore in the book for you. In this 262 page volume, Ariel Gore tells it like it is and takes her readers through the process of first establishing a writing lifestyle and then getting the polished and written work out there.

Written to comple
Dec 30, 2008 Ciara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aspiring writers, writers flummoxed by the publishing industry, boston indie bookstores
Shelves: read-in-2008
this is one the best books about writing i have ever read. not only does it give some tips & ideas for developing as a (fiction) writer (along with writing exercises that are actually kind of innovative), but it offers a lot of information about the publishing side of things. areil gore explains how to find an agent, how to tell if you are getting a good contract, how to decide on a publisher, what to expect in terms of money, etc etc. this is the stuff that was really interesting to me. i t ...more
I’ve read my share of writing advice. I’ve subscribed to Writer’s Digest and Poets & Writers, read writing guides, checked out books from the library on how to get published, perused condescending writerly-ambition websites, and never before have I encountered anything like Gore’s personal, unpretentious, and at times even self-deprecating voice. Instead of removing herself and writing yet another cold-glass how-to book, she takes a refreshing humorous-narrative approach. Simply put, she’s j ...more
One of my favorite books on writing to date. Ariel Gore covers the many aspects of the writing life and getting published in this five part book sprinkled with interviews, Q & A's and quotes.

Part one covers the personal side of becoming the writer you ultimately want to be. Part two is a more technical discussion of craft with Dos and Don'ts. In the third and fourth parts she explains in colorful detail the many ways to self-publish or work with big publishing houses and everywhere in betwe
Allison Floyd
This book was gifted to me, and was my introduction to Ariel Gore, and boy am I glad for both of these things.

As someone who was making great writerly strides and has been subsequently derailed by gainful employment (and the fact that writing—both the act and the process of putting it out there—is frequently, well, really discouraging), this was just the sort of writerly shot in the arm I need right now.

Although she's most likely never met you, you get the sense that Gore sincerely believes in
Nov 03, 2009 Jillian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jillian by: aspiring authors/novice writers/D.I.Y. authors
Broad, hip and inspiring. Favorite tips were "keep your mouth shut" on page 39, "develop a superhero alter ego" on p. 52, "study words" on page 80, the advice to "develop a punk philosophy" on p. 115, Susie Bright's advice on p. 163, the honest words on journalists on pages 234-235, "take to the radio waves" on p. 240, "champion other lit stars" on p. 245 (yea!), "treat the world as your own personal clubhouse" on p. 247, and finally, "don't insult the folks who show up" on p. 258. Boy, would I ...more
When is Goodreads going to let us be able to give (or take away) half-stars? I'd like to bump this up to 3.5 stars.

I guess the main thing keeping me from a full 4 stars was that I didn't recognize a lot of the people she interviewed, (despite the fact that there were several big-name interviewees), so some of the advice that was meant to inspire fell a little flat for me. And I didn't feel the desire to actually do any of the exercises they recommended (thought that will be at my own peril, I'm
It's always a clue that a book is good when I drop all other books I'm reading and sneak peeks during class to keep reading, therefore finishing within a day.

I've started, and yet to finish, a couple books that claim to help a person with aspirations of writing into writing that best seller that's hidden in them, just waiting to hop out.

This is not the view point Ariel takes.

What I enjoyed most about this book was her interview with other authors who have "made it" in the sense that their books
Ariel Gore has written on of my favorite writing books of all time. It is equal parts solid information and heartwarming inspiration written with an irreverent and humorous spin. She takes you down the path of getting your words on paper with wit and a healthy dose of sarcasm.

In Part One: Give Yourself a Lit Star Makeover, Gore discusses why you're not too old, too poor, too crazy, or too anything to be a writer now. She encourages the aspiring writer to mine their crazy and milk their weirdness
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. But Dave…you are a writer! Yeah…but I’m not a famous writer. I have to admit, the sheer brazen nature of this book appealed to me. The act of self-promotion requires an incredible amount of confidence--or at least the great ability to fake it. In this book, author Ariel Gore advocates all manner of self-promotion and creativity in the attempt to make a name for yourself. In many ways, this could serve as a companion piece to my other favorite book about writing ...more
Reading The Hip Mama Survival Guide for the first time changed my life. I graduated high school in 1994 a new teen mama, and by 1998 had been married and separated, learned to live on welfare, and was now in the midst of coming to grips with my queer self. I think I inherently knew that there were at least four things parents were not supposed to be: teen, single, poor, or queer. But Ariel had something else to say. (If you don’t already know, check out the Hip Mama zine.)

Well, Ariel’s done it a
Sage Adderley
I decided to read How To Become A Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore because I had read The Mother Trip and enjoyed Gore’s writing style and humor.

How To Become A Famous Writer Before You’re Dead gave me more inspiration and guidance than I could have ever hoped. It is a practical guide for writers who are interested in being published. Ariel Gore covers basic writing advice, self-promotion, and incorporates interviews with various writers, including Michelle Tea and Margaret Cho.

Jan 15, 2008 Katie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone dedicated to writing
Shelves: creative-writing
Okay, so I heard good things. I went to the library and picked myself up a copy. I went ahead and read it in two days. I read it while I was supposed to be working. Also, when I was walking anywhere. I do not recommend this. It causes awkward and embarrassing accidents.

The book basically reminded me that I can't really be a lit star if nobody reads what I write. Nobody will read what I write unless I make my work visible. This book is a great way to get a long list of ideas about how to put you
David Earle
There are two books on writing I recommend wholeheartedly. Stephen King's On Writing is first, because you need to learn about craft and it's a damn good book for that.

Ariel Gore's book is second, because it deals with the nitty-gritty realities of actually publishing your work and getting your name out there, with or without a publisher. Where King is theoretical, Gore is practical. But they're both highly motivating and well worth reading.
The advice in this book is by no means earth-shattering. You'll recognize most of it from other writing guides. Example: Want to be a writer? Then write. (Sure sounds simple, but I have yet to develop a habit of writing every day.)

But unlike most other writing guides, this book will keep you laughing while it injects you with a good dose of writing wisdom. This book also has some great ideas for exercises -- for example, go through a piece you wrote and remove all adjectives and adverbs, rewriti
Amy Formanski Duffy
Nov 30, 2007 Amy Formanski Duffy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring Writers
There are so many books that are supposed to inspire writers to get off their tails and actually write something. I own many of them. This one is actually inspiring me. It helps that it is written by a hip young writer from Portland. Her style is no-nonsense and to the point, and her attitude is that anyone can be a writer if they just do the work. No snobbery here. She cuts through a lot of the b.s. that goes with writing, promotion, graduate program, and so on.

She reminded me of a few importa
Derek Farrell
Ariel Gore, in this easy and fun read, doles out equal measures lighthearted encouragement, hard truths (it's going to need work. Consistent work. Sometimes Hard choices) and case studies / interviews with people who've not only lived it, but who are succeeding at the writing life.
It's practical, and inspirational and recommended as both a good read and a 'dip in' way of topping up your focus and inspiration levels as you progress on the journey.
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ARIEL GORE is the author of numerous books on parenting, the novel The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show, the memoir Atlas of the Human Heart, and the writer’s guide How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead. Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness in January 2010.
More about Ariel Gore...
Atlas of the Human Heart The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers The Mother Trip: Hip Mama's Guide to Staying Sane in the Chaos of Motherhood The End of Eve

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“Maybe it goes without saying that if you want to become a famous writer before you’re dead, you’ll have to write something. But the folks in my classes with the biggest ideas and the best publicity shots ready to grace the back covers of their best-selling novels are also usually the ones who aren’t holding any paper.” 3 likes
“It's a great paradox and a great injustice that writers write because we fear death and want to leave something indestructable in our wake, and at the same time, are drawn to things that kill: whiskey and cigarette, unprotected sex and deep fried burritos.
It's true that you can get away with drinking and smoking and sunbathing when you're in your teens and twenties, and it's true that rock stars are free to die at twenty-nine, but a lit star needs a long life.”
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