Discover more from MAGICAL OVERTHINKERS
The “cult” of Glossier, a new podcast, and a book giveaway!
Plus, some other authorly updates. Be sure to scroll to the end...
Weekly reader Q&A:
Q: How did you get your start in publishing? Did you start with short articles?
A: For me, this story begins in college, where I spent my semesters in New York City juggling a myriad of writerly internships as a way to “test out” what kind of day job I might best tolerate while pursuing my dream of publishing books. In the end, I decided against pursuing a career in traditional publishing or literary nonprofits in favor of a digital media path. After enough college internship test runs, it seemed wisest to try and get a job writing for a “soft journalism” outlet by day so I could conserve my energy and pursue/experiment with the more literary stuff by night.
After a hodgepodge of post-graduation odd jobs, I eventually wound up working full-time for a series of online magazines in LA (including some really janky ones… I was not picky about taking whatever work came my way. At one point, I was a staff editor at a site called Bikini.com where I wrote about swimwear all day lol. It’s been quite the journey). At those “content mill”-type jobs, I wasn’t exactly covering topics that spoke to me, but I sure was strengthening the muscle of meeting tight daily writing deadlines, which would prove quite useful when I eventually went freelance!
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In those first few years after college, whenever I wasn’t at my day job, I was taking writing classes at places like the UCLA Writers Extension and Writing Pad, attending local bookstore readings and writing conferences, volunteering at a small literary journal, pitching and submitting articles wherever I could, and posting my own self-published content online (it is highly cringe, so I won’t be linking it here. But you can’t be afraid of embarrassing yourself in pursuit of finding your voice!). It was all in service of honing my craft, gaining experience working with editors, figuring out exactly what I wanted to say to the world, and developing a sense of literary community. In the end, it was a combination of these irons in the fire that led me to my literary agent and first book deal… but not in a way I could’ve ever predicted.
If folks would like to hear more about launching their own literary career, I actually teach an online crash course about exactly that with my friend Alisson Wood, author of the memoir Being Lolita. We’re hosting our next two sessions on November 5th & 12th—anyone interested can sign up here!
Do you have a bookish or writerly question for me? Leave it in a comment!
Tell me where to go on my upcoming book tour!
My lovely publisher has started planning for my The Age of Magical Overthinking book tour next spring. Is there an independent bookstore in your town where you’d like me to come do an event & signing? Let me know in a comment! And tell the bookstore you’d like me to come there, too :)
I’m co-hosting two writing career workshops…
Writing is hard (duh). Becoming a working writer is even harder… but for totally different reasons. Enter this two-punch series sharing actionable tips for how to DIY your writing career, from first byline to successful book launch! A couple times a year, my friend Alisson Wood, author of the stunning memoir Being Lolita, and I host these dueling online workshops, which I only WISH existed earlier in my career. In these sessions, we’ll share concrete info and strategies (from pitching to self-marketing) to help you become the very best and most successful writer you can be. Join us on Sundays, November 5th & 12th for 90 minute crash courses. More info below!
I was interviewed on a fantastic new cult podcast!
Canadaland is a Canadian network (duh) that makes incredibly well-researched pods, including COMMONS, which interviewed me for their latest season on cults: “Uncovering the stories of both devotees and dissenters, this season of COMMONS will go beyond the true crime cliches and will make you question everything you thought you knew about cults.” The first episode titled “Speak in Tongues" is out now. Click to listen!
Come write & travel with me in Italy…
Earlier this year, I hosted two “write and travel with me” experiences in Italy, and they were so smashing, I decided to do one more! The next trip will be October 13-19, 2024 and will take place in Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Join me and 16+ fellow adventurers who also love books, food, and coastline so beautiful it actually makes you cry a lil bit. Here’s how it works: Once you arrive, everything will be planned out for you: We’ll sail to the island of Capri, eat our weight in pizza (in the birthplace of pizza!), engage in inspiring all-level writing exercises inspired by our travels, and more.
Click here for more info about the trip (itinerary, pricing, etc.). There are 8 spots left!
A weekly roundup of books, podcasts, TV shows, tchotchkes, and anything else I’m currently “cult following.” This week, a selection of mostly new books about the “cult” of beauty. And a giveaway! Also, if you enjoy this theme, Jessica DeFino’s newsletter The Unpublishable is a must-sub.
GLOSSY: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss's Glossier by Marisa Meltzer
The first-ever book-length exposé of the cult-followed brand, Glossier. (Stay tuned for an episode of Sounds Like A Cult on the topic.) I was honored to “blurb” this book, aka offer a few words of endorsement for the back cover. Here’s what I said: "I was always thirsty for an insidery exegesis of the ever-elusive Emily Weiss and her proverbially 'cool-girl' Glossier empire. What a treat that this vivid, first-of-its-kind account now actually exists. Meltzer is a sharp, intimate narrator who has penned a devourable story of ambition, beauty, gender, and capitalism—told with all the juiciness and sparkling clarity of (dare I say it) the titular brand's Balm Dot Com."
ROUGE: A Novel by Mona Awad
God I love novels like this—anything with themes of deranged feminine obsession. It’s a surreal, twisted story of fraught mother-daughter dynamics and impossible beauty standards. Awad’s inventiveness and way around a sentence always leave me awestruck.
McMillam-Cottom is a sociologist and professor who pens some of our generation’s most cogent takes on pop culture, race, gender, beauty, and capitalism. I aspire to her ability to weave lived experience with scholarship and cultural critiques that cut to the marrow. (Also, her essay on Dolly Parton published here on Substack is canon.)
AESTHETICA: A Novel by Allie Rowbottom
I was a beauty editor in Los Angeles during the exact period when this novel takes place, so it was a chilling read for me. Its protagonist is a small-town girl who moves to LA in the mid-2010s and quickly gets whipped up in toxic influencer culture, which leads to a plethora of plastic surgery. Years later, she decides to pursue a controversial new procedure to reverse all the work she’s had done and reflects on the rueful decisions that led her there. Caroline Calloway called Aesthetica “the only book about the internet that doesn’t make the author sound like a thousand-year-old vampire,” so that’s all you really need to know.
GIVEAWAY: Anyone who preorders a copy of my forthcoming book THE AGE OF MAGICAL OVERTHINKING this week will be entered to win a free copy of Marisa Meltzer’s GLOSSY and a personalized note from me! You can preorder from any book retailer, just upload your proof of purchase here and type GLOSSY before your name to enter.