DM: Mrs. Garfield, my 9th grade teacher, wrote on my Eleanor Roosevelt term paper: “you already have style. You are a writer.” From birth I have been an avid avid reader. And from 9th grade till now, my writer self has evolved.
LH: What was your first success?
DM: Aside from Mrs. Garfield?
DM: Well, I won an DAR essay writing award in 11th grade for an essay on the Cuban Missile Crises (first written for MR. Garfield’s history class—he gave me a B- on it.)
LH: Obviously lagging behind his wife in discerning talent!
LH: What kind of things do you most enjoy writing?
DM: Enjoy??? Well I love researching just about anything. And then, of course, I have to write about it. I’d sure like to try fiction and have 16 scenes written. But I don’t know about the rhythm and cadence of fiction—so I’ll have to learn.
LH: Do you have an agent? Tell us about your experiences with/without agents.
DM: Yes, I have an agent. Nat Sobel who is terrific and yet he’s made me cry (and I am not a weeper). I got Nat through connections and sheer luck. He is a first class editor and task master and a straight talker (hence the tears). I think some books require an agent to do anything with publishing. Academic presses don’t require an agent and are a whole different publishing experience. In University presses, editors don’t intrude much, nor do their marketers. But of course, writers can’t expect to make a dime in any event. And an agent expects to make lots of dimes. That’s the requirement. Nat likes me anyway, I think, though he sure hasn’t made much money off me!
LH: What are your thoughts about marketing? Do you have any great tips on how to do it well?
DM: No. I do have good advice. If you want your book marketed, hire someone on your own. Your presses’ marketers will do MINIMAL. I haven’t done this, and I regret it. Next time. . .
LH: If you could go back in time and start over, tell us one thing you have learned that would help you to succeed better/faster/with less struggle.
DM: I’d start earlier (had a whole family and other career first). But I really don’t regret starting late . . .success? It is all a crapshoot. Keep writing, trying to do better, experimenting, having fun with it. Expect struggle. Learn to cuss.
LH: Any other thoughts to share?
DM: “Worth the effort. “ I named a whole introduction that on my Hellman book—my agent had turned down flat my first intro and I had to start from scratch. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted Nora Ephron or Joan Didion to write the intro. Ha! I had to do it myself—and it was worth the effort.
LH: Thanks, Deb, I’m sure my blog readers will enjoy this one!