Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Writing Success Story: Angela Nickerson Combines Art and Guidebook Writing

The guidebook industry is changing. A lot of travelers carry a general guidebook and one that's more specialized in region or subject. This new niche for travel writing is being explored by Roaring Forties Press in their new ArtPlace series, which looks at a city or region through the works of its greatest artist.

One of their titles is A Journey into Michelangelo's Rome, written by first-time author Angela K. Nickerson. Today, Nickerson talks with us about her writing success.

"Greetings, fellow Midlisters! Sean has graciously asked me to regale you with the story of my modest beginnings as a Midlist writer, and I am happy to oblige.

"My literary life began modestly. When I was a student, I loved to write. And I truly loved research. I also loved to travel, a passion ignited early (I blogged about my first European trip here). However, I really didn’t translate that into a career path. In my mind writers worked at newspapers or wrote fiction or poetry. I knew that I didn’t have the news bug. I was not prepared to be a starving novelist (kudos to you guys!). And there are even fewer jobs for poets. So, I became a teacher – and my students did a lot of research!

"However, teaching others to write just didn’t satisfy my own desire to write. I found myself doing more and more journaling and fantasizing about 'becoming' a writer. In reality I already was. I was writing all the time. I just wasn’t earning any money doing it.

"Over the course of a few years I transitioned out of the physical classroom (though I still teach writing privately) and started with small, local publications. I ended up with a column in a monthly magazine as well as several other publications that regularly featured my work…and then I got a book deal.

"I came upon a call for proposals. Roaring Forties Press had begun a new series of books, the ArtPlace books, and they were looking for writers. Immediately I knew that Michelangelo and Rome (both of which I know very well) would be the perfect fit. I wrote the book proposal, and it took about a year to hammer out the details and sign a contract. But now, three years later, the book is on the shelves!

"My journey has been a very slow one. And I am impatient to support myself completely as a writer. That is coming, but I do still have a 'day job.' My goal is to be able to write full time within a few more years, but it is more likely that we will be able to live on my husband’s income than on what I make as a writer (remember: I don’t really want to be a starving novelist).
"The untold story, though, is that once a midlist book is out, the REAL work begins. In the middle of the pack, money for promoting the book itself is scarce. So, those of us without reviews in the New York Times and banners in the windows at Borders are faced with a lot to do if we want our returns to be low and our precious work to stay off the remainders table.

"I am now engaged in full-time promotion of my book (in addition to my 'day job'). It is exhausting and gratifying and exciting and exasperating all at once. I am blogging (Just Go!) and guest blogging, writing articles, keeping my website current, doing readings and giving talks… and I love it! After all, I love Rome. I love Michelangelo. And the teacher in me can talk or write about both all day long.
"But the next book is also percolating, and I miss the solitude of research and writing and the complete immersion in another place and time. It is just about time to get back to the library again…"

I'll be posting a review of
A Journey into Michelangelo's Rome along with some of Angela's stunning photographs, on my other blog, Grizzled Old Traveler, on June 12. Also, don't forget to check out Angela's website.

1 comment:

Vickie Jenkins said...

Yes, Angela's work is wonderful! And she's learned what I remind my author clients to keep in mind-- writing the book was the first mountain, publishing it was the second, and marketing the book is the third. It's a big job, but can be so much fun!

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.