Re:Fiction - The Fiction Writers' Magazine

Review: "Booklife" by Jeff VanderMeer

Target Audience

Advanced writers


Jeff VanderMeer’s Booklife is an unusual writing book. It isn’t about the skills and techniques of writing or story. It’s about the lifestyle that comes with it. As the cover says, this is “strategies and survival tips for the 21st-century writer”.

The world of writing is changing and Jeff VanderMeer understands that. A professional writer and editor with decades of experience, he brings his knowledge of the writing life together in this useful book. He talks about the lifestyle of the writer, including balancing work and life, the personal and the public. He talks about planning your projects and your career, building up your status and achievements as a writer to create an audience and a career. There’s advice on dealing with publishers, audiences, social media, and yourself.

The book includes an extensive section on how to publicise your book, and even a marketing plan from one of VanderMeer’s own works. It’s a useful insight, as even traditionally published authors play an important part in their own marketing machines, and VanderMeer has seen how this works from the inside. He knows how best to deal with publicists, editors, and other professionals in the industry, and provides tips on building good working relationships.


  • A focus on overall planning for your writing life.
  • Emphasises how to take your personal strengths and weaknesses into account to build a career that suits you.
  • Talks about balancing writing with personal health, an issue many writers struggle with.
  • Valuable guidelines for planning your publicity.

Includes sections from other professionals to provide perspective on issues like editing and publicity.


  • Valuable insights into the life of the modern writer, brought together in one place.
  • Important ideas explored clearly and authoritatively by an author who has seen the publishing industry from the inside.
  • Provides a big picture of how to live as an author, a valuable template for anyone building a book life.


  • Like any book touching on social media and the fast-changing publishing industry, there are parts of this book that are going out of date.
  • Much of the advice here is available elsewhere, especially through the many blogs and podcasts of self-publishing professionals. If you feel that those are already providing the insight you need, or you want to save the cost of a book, then this may not be the choice for you.


This isn’t a book for beginning writers or those dabbling in the field. It’s one to pick up once you’ve committed to spending a substantial part of your life writing, possibly to making it your entire career. Whether you’re reaching that point or planning for it, this book can be a huge help in planning and managing your life as a writer.

Andrew Knighton is a Yorkshire based ghostwriter, responsible for writing many books in other people's names. He's had over fifty stories published in his own name in places such as Daily Science Fiction and Wily Writers. His steampunk adventure series, The Epiphany Club, is out now in all e-book formats, and the first volume, Guns and Guano, is available for free from Amazon or Smashwords. You can find free stories and links to more of his books at and follow him on Twitter where he’s @gibbondemon.

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