What I’ve Been Up To Lately

some recent publications:

–My secret agent friend A.T.|Cleveland wrote about Arvo Part and beer for The Economist.

–I wrote  about ruin porn for CAN Journal.

–I reviewed Jamie Attenberg’s The Middlesteins for The Jewish Review of Books.

–I reviewed Austin Ratner’s In the Land of the Living for Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer

–I worked on designing and ordering up some Rust Belt Chic t-shirts.

and also:

–I sat in a 2nd grade class to observe: immersion reporting for my book on handwriting, natch

–I’ve been happpily swamped with essay and op-ed drafts and discussions in my online course.

–The crocuses came up, bloomed, and were knocked down again by snow. Springs eternal.


What I’ve Been Up To Lately

—I’m thrilled that I have been elected to the board of the National Book Critics Circle. It means I get to read a gazillion books and talk about them with a group of incredibly smart critics. The NBCC is a fantastic organization that has quietly done more for books in this country than many other larger, wealthier ones.

–I’m learning more about varieties of scripts than I thought imaginable as I work on my next book, The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting. I also found a great poem by Erasmus about his pen (bonus: cool Holbein pic of Erasmus’ hands).

Rust Belt Chic  never sleeps. Our next event is a discussion sponsored by Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, and we’re thrilled to have been chosen for their first book group event.

–I’m offering a new online course in March on Writing & Selling Op-Eds & Personal Essays. It’s inspired by my work helping various writers successfully place such essays over the years, and aims in particular to help women and academics (and women academics!)

–I am disappointed by the new Community and find House of Cards plodding. These are both ways to say I miss my garden.


Going Viral Versus Having Legs In Self-Publishing

In September, I published Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology. You can read about my reasons behind the book, the mechanics of editing it, and the economics of self-publishing here, here and here.

I told my co-editor, Richey Piiparinen, that most book sales are made in the first six weeks after pub date, and we needed to be vigilant about promoting during that period. It turned out to be easy: during the fall, people kept inviting us to do Luckily, Then sales were very brisk in November and December with people buying copies for holiday presents.

But here’s the thing: ours was not a viral sensation. The viral narrative is so popular right now–too much so. The  upstart little kickstartery start-uppy grassrootsy copy that makes tech and book bloggers happy. There’s linkbait in that line. But is there sustainability in the model? Sustainability is another keyword of our day, and it’s one we might use when talking books. Publishers have long known the advantages of a strong backlist after all.

Rust Belt Chic has been a slow burn: word spreads by mouth, a friend telling another over a beer, a bookstore employer handselling a copy, a local store deciding to stock a few copies, a mulitply-liked facebook post.

It’s is a steady little thing, our book, the hard worker who shows up every day. It’s the small family business that customers appreciate. It’s  It is, well, kinda rust belty in that sense. Or, if you figure in the self-publishing angle, maybe it’s quaint 20th century success story or an archaic 19th century one,  (Walt Whitman, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe–self-publishers all). Our book doesn’t want to have lots of RTs or become a kindle bestseller. It wants to make an impression, one deep enough to possibly effect the city of which it writes. It wants to have legs.

Our latest  news is perhaps the most satisfying. Cleveland Partnership for Arts and Culture has chosen Rust Belt Chic for their first citywide book group discussion. To have our book–to have the stories our contributors wrote– be part of the larger conversation about the role of culture in Cleveland’s economic development? Well that’s what this whole thing was about, all along.


New Course! Op-Eds & Personal Essays, March 8-22

Sign up: March 8-22. Basic: $100/With Individual Feedback: $250

I do love helping others with their writing. That explains those 15 years teaching writing at Oberlin College, I suppose. I’ve been posting a lot about the VIDA stats and  my post on how to pitch VIDA publications has been extremely popular.  Now I’m offering online courses to help writers pitch publications and draw back the veil on freelancing.

So here’s the deal:

The course is two weeks long. It runs via a private blog from March 8-March 22. The cost is $100–for access to materials and discussions and $250 for the same plus one-on-one feedback. During this time I will:

–post on the basics of op-ed and essay writing, such as developing  ideas, submitting to editors, research, etc.

–share the stories behind the pieces I’ve sold as well

–give you access to a  a database of  publications with updated editor and pay information. There are over 60 markets on it.

–answer your questions.

–(one-on-one option) offer feedback on your work in progress.  I’ll provide you with comments as often as you like during this two week period (I promise a two-day turnaround). You can do multiple drafts of a piece and I’ll keep responding with suggestions, edits, and comments.

If all goes well, we’ll form a community, get to know each other and take our writing and freelancing one step further.

The course works for rookies  and experienced freelancers.

Here is what some former participants said:

I am a middle-aged, career-switching, baby-journalist pursuing a Master’s Degree at Boston University. I have spent a TON of money writing courses as well as attended some for free. Anne’s is by far the best value I’ve come across and I think she could increase her tuition rates by a factor of three and still be giving people a great value. Good writers are a dime a dozen. To be successful, you need to learn what Anne teaches. How to Get Published. Take Anne’s class or compete against someone like me who did.

I really can’t say enough good things about this course. Anne offers professional, helpful advice based on her own experiences, those of other successful freelancers she knows, and tips from editors. My “classmates,” though all at different stages of their careers, were insightful and freely offered plenty of their own experiences to the group; not to mention they’re all great writers themselves, from what I saw. Best of all, though, was the motivation. Anne encouraged us to submit consistently throughout the two weeks we all worked together, and with everyone sharing stories, the mood was infectious. I submitted more pitches during this class than I had in the preceding month.If you’re serious about being a successful published writer in any field, take this class.

March 2012: Took Anne’s course, with the one-on-one feedback aspect. May 2012: Got my piece published in the biggest newspaper in SF. Thank you Anne for making getting published seem not only do-able, but just a series of small steps (and emails) away. You are a treasure trove of a resource!

***See more recommendations in the “comments” section of this post.***

Sign up: March 8-22. Basic: $100/With Individual Feedback: $250

Interested and have questions? Email me at anne.trubek@gmail.com