Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

I once wrote a book that was an instant New York Times bestseller, and remained on the list for several weeks. It continues to sell rather nicely. Because of this, sometimes aspiring authors ask me whether I think their book idea might get them on the list, too.

I don’t think this is the right way to think about success, though. I say this not in spite of having been a bestseller, but because of it. …


The following is an excerpt from my e-booklet Write That Nonfiction Book Already: A Practical Guide for Writing a Successful Book, from Conception to Publication.

I want to share with you some honest information about my book earnings over the last several years. I offer this not to brag, but to show you what’s possible. Many authors make less than I do on books, and that’s just because of a bunch of factors, from subject matter to genre to platform to weird twists of fate. Many authors make way more than I do. …


The following is an excerpt from my e-booklet, Write That Nonfiction Book Already: A Practical Guide to Writing a Successful Book, from Conception to Publication.

Interviewing provides information and quotes as well as an element of humanity and storyline. Particularly for a book, you want to get your subject to tell you stories that you can turn into scenes that propel your overall story. An important first step is to think about what your objective is for this particular interview is: Do you need clarifications? Verification and amplification of stories that others have told you, or that you’ve learned about…


Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Anne Lamott is famously a proponent of “shitty first drafts,” and the real key to that whole thing is what comes next: editing. Professional writers endure the shitty first draft, then make the magic happen in revision.

So, you’ve got your shitty first draft. Where to go from there? Here are a few checkpoints I always start with when getting my books in order:

  1. Make sure you’ve used active voice, not passive voice, as much as possible. (Active voice: I edited my book. Passive: The book was edited.) Usually, this results in clearer, more concise sentences, though there are exceptions…

You may have thought to yourself before, “Gosh, I wish I could do something useful with all this knowledge I have about …” your favorite book, TV show, movie, or pop star. You may have even been joking a little. But it turns out you really can do something with it! For a writing career, it’s often best to have an area of expertise … and here you’ve got one of those, ready-made!

That’s why I created a new Skillshare class, Turning Your Fandom Into a Writing Career.

Fandom is more prevalent than ever, and fandoms are more voracious than…


Me playing an open mic I hosted in the Before Times.

I’m old enough to remember when the word “weblog” became “blog,” and when everybody was always saying “I posted about this on my blog,” and when corporate forces co-opted the blog to start making “branded content.” Blogging is nothing new or hip or cool. It is possibly the opposite of all that at this point.

But if you are a writer, particularly if you are in the early stages of a writing career, you should be blogging. Here’s why: Blogging is an open mic for writers on the internet. …


This is an excerpt from my e-book How to Come Up With All Those Words: A Practical Guide to Writing a Successful Nonfiction Book, from Conception to Publication.

My mom likes to brag about me to her friends, as moms do. She recently recommended one of my books to a new friend. After the friend finished reading the book, she asked my mom, incredulously, “How does she come up with all of those words?”

I take this as the highest of compliments. To be honest, sometimes I haven’t been sure how I came up with all of those words, or…


Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Jerry Seinfeld has given us the nostalgic reboot we need. No, not of Seinfeld, but of the distinctly early-2010s joy of a harmless online controversy.

Like most New Yorkers—you know, the real ones, those of us who have stayed in the city throughout the pandemic and intend to stay in the city, dammit—I very much enjoyed Jerry Seinfeld’s New York Times takedown of James Altucher’s viral essay arguing that New York is “dead forever.” Jerry Seinfeld has brought me joy in many ways—I wrote a whole book about one of them—but this has been truly special. For, not only did…


I make really detailed chapter outlines (complete with word-count goals) when I write books. This is for my upcoming book When Women Invented Television.

There’s one surefire way to kill writer’s block before it happens: planning.

I’m sure some people can write without planning, but I’m not one of them. Some people, especially fiction writers, might be able to simply sit down at their desks and start a mighty flow of words. But nonfiction writing all but requires advance planning, and fiction writing can benefit from it, too.

(Approximately) 90 percent of writing is simply tricking yourself into putting the words down. Putting the words down is the one literal requirement of writing, but it can take a lot to get us there. …


When I was a local newspaper reporter early in my career, I was surprised to discover that I loved writing obituaries. And I even seemed to have a knack for them, according to my editors. This was due mostly to a chance combination of personality traits: I didn’t mind talking about death, which I saw as a simple fact of life. (I was already becoming a Buddhist then.) Perhaps relatedly, I was good at talking to grieving people. (Fact: You might feel uncomfortable approaching a grieving person, but grieving people love to talk about their recently deceased loved one, so…

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia, Sex and the City and Us, and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted. Co-host of #Authoring podcast.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store