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How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  600 ratings  ·  134 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
Paperback, 265 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  600 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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Sara Habein
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to
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.
Jennifer Fosket
Jul 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 23, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
a beautiful and compelling kick in the pants.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not sure how I stumbled on this - I had vague memories of reading The Hip Mama Survival Guide: Advice from the Trenches on Pregnancy, Childbirth, Cool Names, Clueless Doctors, Potty Training, and Toddler Avengers at some point in the past, probably because Ariel Gore wrote for Bitch or Bust or one of those magazines I used to get. It was before I did logging, so I only have vague memories (although I think that book was the reason I own a Bikini Kill album).

That said, this book - which has
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent read... not sure if I would add this to my permanent collection, but I know I can get it from the library if I need to look something up. She is very encouraging and supportive of getting your writing out there. Her approach is authentic and friendly.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brittanie by: Rand Faust and writer's group girls
Shelves: by-women, writing
Less a book about writing and more a book about self promotion, Still the best book on the craft I've ever read.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the members of our nascent local writers' group describes herself as a "Post-It Writer." She writes things that are a few words at a time. She hates to read.

She'd love this book.

Bloggy. Fizzy. Nothing that demands your attention for more than thirty seconds at a time. Three pages per chapter, on average.

But I'm giving it four stars despite its effervescence, because it's the clearest thing I've ever read regarding the fact that every writer is responsible for doing everything she can to
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, nonfiction
I must admit I really enjoyed this one. It was funny, informative and surprisingly comprehensive. The style in which was written makes me want to try other books by the author, even though the genre isn't really my cup of tea.

This comprehensiveness is also a bit of downside, as the book doesn't only focus on writing and publishing fiction, but thanks to it, anyone would be able to find hints and advice that can be useful for him.

The only problem I had with the book, and it is not the fault of th
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Though some parts sound cliche, this book is very helpful for putting future writers on track. I have read several books doing the same thing, mostly written by men, but none of them sounds so accessible and inspirational like this one. It is a must-read for anyone who harbors unrealistic expectations for this writing career or feels thwarted by the impossible mission of lit stardom. What I like most about the book is the interviews with other published writers that talk so frankly about writing ...more
Samantha Sprole
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gore ends her book with a brief exploration on the more problematic aspects of fame and pursuing fame. I'm fact, despite the title, the majority (if not all) of the advice in the book requires a tempered ego and a rigorous work ethic. In short, learn from your literary heroes, submit work for publication methodically, develop and execute a unique and novel marketing/publicity plan, and don't be afraid to go the self-publishing route (including getting your feet wet with the publishing cycle by p ...more
Laura Connell
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed this book for writers on how to publicize your book (and yourself). She dedicates it to an aspiring author who died very young before Gore got a chance to mentor her.

She writes in a lighthearted way with short chapters and interviews with successful authors giving advice on what worked for them, what to avoid, tips and tricks.

Inevitably, the book is a little outdated and needs to be revised for the current technological climate. However, lots of great encouragement here for aspiring an
Cassandra Stinson
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I absolutely loved this book. It focused more on the publishing and marketing aspects of authorship than writing technique, covering everything from self-publishing, finding an agent, organizing a book tour, and writing a book proposal. Gore also covered some of the less glamorous aspects of being a writer, like making ends meet financially or facing rejection letters. The overall point Gore made was not to wait around waiting for a book deal to fall in your lap - if you want your story publishe ...more
Sassafras Lowrey
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ok so clearly I've been living under a rock (for 10 years?!) this book is fantastic. I wish I'd read it when I was just starting to build my little literary career out of my zinester foundation - would have made me much less nervous I was doing everything wrong. People always ask me "how do i become a author" and now instead of trying to summarize my ideas on the topic I can just send them to this book! woohoo!!!
Erik Caswell
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
its a fun read ((or partial-read)). scan the list really and pick up & move on at parts that seem pertinent to you. I like Gore's voice throughout. and a helpful distinction made b/w writing for the self vs writing to be a writer and to publish and who to write to.

"But eventually, journaling to become a writer started to feel like playing with buckets of salt water to become a surfer."
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Silly but mostly harmless. Except she doesn't know what adverbs are.
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I actually really enjoyed this book and it's a good reminder that the only way to get better at a craft, is to practice.

She DOES note several things that you can do to improve your writing and how to go about actually making a name for yourself in the industry. So it's not a fluff book like a lot of "helpful books" out there that talk about positive attitudes and crap.

I recommend this book if you plan on trying to become a writer of any sort.

Here are some of my jumbled notes on the book:

The firs
Jun 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Christina  Butcher
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
Dear authors waiting for publishers to finally get back to you with bad news, poets tired of pasting rejection letters on your bathroom wall, and novelists hiding in basements while clutching your manuscript for dear life, Ariel Gore has something to say to you: If you want to become a famous, successful author before you die, you need to get off your butts and do it yourself. Publish your own book, write and send out your own zines, and have some faith in your ability, for goodness sake. In her ...more
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, library
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
Oct 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Susan Davis
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
May 14, 2009 added it
Shelves: dave-s-picks
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
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ARIEL GORE is the author of We Were Witches (The Feminist Press, 2017), The End of Eve (Hawthorne Books, 2014), and numerous other 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 Happi ...more
“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.” 4 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.”
More quotes…