Live from L.A.–What Does a Writer Have to Do to Get Famous?

Blogging live from L.A. I have good news and bad news. The bad news first. I have done everything I can, and yet no Hollywood agent has “discovered” me yet. I don’t get this place. How has no one seen what I have to offer? Surely there is some movie in need of a cute, slightly fluffy thirty-something-year-old writer. If not, then I could write it FOR them. What a bargain! Not only could they have their STAR, but I could write the script and I would even be willing to direct and…ooh…I would even be happy to do casting, too.  And wardrobe? I could totally handle that too. I am an excellent multi-tasker. Just drop me off on Rodeo and…

Yeah, well they clearly don’t understand that this gem won’t be here for long. Limited time offer, Honey. And … well, they’ll be sorry.

The good news is that this conference seriously ROCKS. That has helped to take my mind off the fact that launching my career as a movie star is not going according to plan. According to my original calculations, I should have been signing a movie deal by now.

But back to the conference…

The Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention has gathered together a mind-boggling collection of experts; everything from forensics experts, to the ATF, to NY Times best-selling authors to teach attendees how to be the best they possibly can be.

Thus, the only nugget of advice I can give you guys is to invest in yourselves. Invest in your careers. We are in amazing times to be a writer. There are so many potential career options. It is liberating and terrifying to think that now everyone can be published. In ways, this is excellent news, but it is staggering to think of the competition we will face in the coming years.

Ah, but the cream will always separate, which makes it even more vital that we do everything we can to learn our craft and take our business seriously.

Thus, a handful of tips for every budget.

1. We must read books about our craft. I gobble up everything I can, particularly books about structure. My opinion? Writers who really understand structure are faster, cleaner, more prolific writers, regardless their style of execution (plotter/pantser). It might take 5 years to write our first book, but when it comes to book two? We need to significantly shorten that timeline without compromising quality.

2. Get on Twitter and follow every agent, editor, publisher and best-selling author you can find. We have to do everything we can to know the ins and outs of our business. Knowledge is power. Twitter is one of the few places that stalking is encouraged. Apparently here in L.A., it will get you banned from a restaurant I didn’t like anyway. Jerks.

3. Read novels of all kinds. Yes, we can read our own genre, but the real art side of the craft often comes when we blend elements from other styles. It gives new blood to our genre and helps our work stand apart.

4. Build a social media platform to support our careers for the long-term. I can attest that it takes time to get momentum. You will feel like nothing you are doing is making one bit of difference. Just keep at it, no matter how discouraging. Too many writers give up just shy of the tipping point.

5. Do everything you can to go to conferences. Feel free to start small with local conferences, but when you get a chance try to go to the big ones. It is a totally different world and the relationships and professional connections you’ll make are priceless.

Everyone can be published. That is now a reality. BUT, not everyone will approach being an author with the skill, energy, focus and planning necessary to thrive as a career professional in this new paradigm.

All right, so back to choosing an outfit for the day. I need something eye-catching. Maybe the Hollywood people just haven’t seen me yet. Okay, well one saw me. I went to the Hollywood track yesterday to become peeps with the producers, but then nothing. Can you believe that? I couldn’t either. So I figured that they probably just didn’t make a big deal out of me because they were worried they might make the other writers jealous. I was not one to give up.


I think that producer Lee Goldberg turned his sprinklers on deliberately to flush me out of his hedges. Ruined my stack of head shots. Some people are so rude. But I was gracious and slipped one under his windshield wiper along with the script I wrote on the plane about the story of my life. I clearly stated in my note that I was totally willing to play the part of me to save the studios money, but that he was free to cast Reese Witherspoon. I would approve.

What does a writer have to do to get famous in this town?

I miss you guys and thanks so much for all of your comments. You have no idea how awesome it has been to read your thoughts and opinions in between speakers. I just don’t understand how I could be so naive. You guys can see how awesome I am. What is wrong with these Hollywood people? I think we need you guys to take over, because clearly you have superlative taste.

What are some of your tips to make it in this modern publishing jungle?

Okay, publishing smublishing. More about me.

I’m running out of time. Any suggestions of how I could get my movie deal? Maybe you guys can think of something. The world needs to know the story of me, or it will be a sad, dark little place where life is never fully experienced. So help me out!

And, in return for your assistance with launching my stardom…

For the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Stay tuned for March’s winners. Will post soon. No Mash-Up of Awesomeness today. The hotel Internet connection makes glaciers look fast. I nearly tore out all my own hair just trying to get the blog posted. Okay, done whining. The MUA will resume next week. Promise.

Happy writing!

Until next time….

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.


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  1. Glad you’re enjoying LA and RT Convention. Things are Who Dares Wins Publishing are slipping into high gear. We’ve already cleared a thousand books sold on Kindle this month. And it’s only the 8th. Plus Duty, Honor, Country a Novel of West Point & the Civil War is uploading on all the platforms and will be available in time for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War on Tuesday. As you note, this all doesn’t happen overnight, but we’ve been building for a while now and will continue to do so. By the end of this year, we’ll have twice as many– including yours– titles out.

    1. Yeah…well you guys have superlative taste and have appreciated my awesomeness from the get-go :D. Fantastic news and a great way to start the day. Thanks for leaving out the part that all the books sold were Area 51.

  2. “By all means, move at a glacial pace.” -The Devil Wears Prada (the movie; I never read the book). You know, LA is a complex town. It’s complex because it’s not that deep when you think it should be. So maybe to be discovered you need to think on a shallower level? Good luck and I totally see the resemblance to Resse Witherspoon.

    1. SEE? Further PROOF that you guys GET me and have exquisite taste :D. Think shallower? Why didn’t I think of something that simple and yet BRILLIANT? I knew I could count on you guys.

  3. You so crack me up. Would it help if I told you my husband has a pro-level camera? We could shoot our own movie, lol!

  4. Great advice on attending conferences. As a fair newbie writer, I’ve attended one with Nathan B. as the keynote speaker. Loved it! RT seemed a bit daunting for me to go it alone, but I’ll do the next conference – yes I will. Oh, try doing the Hollywood strut, Kristen. Back straight, shoulders back, hips doing the vavoom roll to the sides.As a CA girl, I’ve seen “the walk” on a few occasions. Looking for more reports from L.A.!!

  5. Well, there’s always the old-fashioned “check the upholstery on the studio couch” approach, but if you didn’t pass Goldstein’s wet t-shirt contest, it may be futile. Love your blogs. Got my copy of “‘We’re Not Alone…” in the mail yesterday and am burning through it. Love it! Have fun in L.A. Put the top town (on the car) and enjoy the ride!

  6. I love your blog. It always makes me smile. And I”M SOOO jealous you get to see HP’s talk. 🙁 If someone notices you and you need hair and makeup, feel free to drop me a line. I’m licensed and everything! 😉

  7. I offer a variety of, ahem, unusual services. Remember the scene from Natl. Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Cousin Eddie helps out Clark by getting the boss right there for negotiations? We could make that happen. Just tell me who forgot to notice how awesome you are. I’ll pack an extra hoodie.

  8. I am the world’s most famous writer in my genre; physician bluegrass fiction. I’m also the only one. Oh well, I figure as long as my wife and kids love me and I’m happy in my little world not much else matters.

    My novel is “The Mandolin Case,” a medical legal mystery solved by musicians. Maybe someday T-Bone Burnette will get a hold of it and make Harvey County famous, but for now we’re a poorly kept secret in bluegrass. (It did make it to #1 in the Amazon Country book catgeory for a while last summer.)

    It might be best that we stay under the radar. If they made a movie of it and we all showed up in L.A. I’m not sure the city would ever be the same.

    Dr. B, author, “The Mandolin Case”

  9. You’re at the ROMANTIC TIMES bookLOVER’S con, Kristen. Where’s the comments about the bronze six-packs roaming the halls in leather chaps? I know they’re there. Enjoy the weekend. The best is yet to come! RT is always a blast.

  10. Oh, Kristen. Did I not tell you to stay away from the drunk blogging?

    Oh, and I expect to here about the drama when you come back. Because it’s RT and there’s ALWAYS drama that explodes on the Internetz after it’s done. Do your part, my friend. 🙂

  11. I love the writing conferences I can get to! I leave feeling ready to conquer the publishing world.
    Another tip for me is to go back over my conference notes, say, six months later. It helps regenerate the happiness. And reminds me of ideas/suggestions/names I may have forgotten.

  12. I have had the chance to attend RT and loved it. You meet so many amazing people and learn so much. There is so much to take in and it feels like there is not enough of you to go around….

  13. Reese Witherspoon is the perfect choice. I’ll bet she will do it for free, too, when they tell her she would get to play you. Glad you’re having a great time out there. Keep up the great work showing us how it’s done. 🙂

  14. I’m not surprised you’re having trouble. The traditional way of being discovered is to have an agent find you at a malt shop on Hollywood and Vine. i was there a few years ago, and there’s no malt shop there any more. In fact, Hollywood and Vine seems to be a pretty dull place now. No wonder people have a hard time getting discovered.

    • Patti Mallett on April 8, 2011 at 11:51 pm
    • Reply

    Okay, so I’m having to wipe the tears from my eyes, and I laughed enough endorphins through my body to last till next week. Honestly, I don’t know how they’ve missed you out there! Some things there is no explaining!!!

    1. Me neither. *pout* There is no accounting for taste. Like I said…you guys should totally be in charge.

  15. I love that you state that conferences are an investment in yourself. I’m attending my first (local) one, but the feedback from the group exercises and the speakers have all been amazing. I’m meeting diverse people who have such great takes on projects and the publishing industry. This is exactly what I needed. I’ll keep my fingers about your movie deal!

    P.S. Been dropping your name around all day at the conference to other writers. Expect some new groupies! Can I get your autograph before you’re so big you forget us all?

    1. I will never forget any of you. I can’t do this by myself. Like seriously. My parole officer says I really should never be left unattended :D. Hugs! Thank you, thank you, thank you and I hope you make a lot of really great contacts at the conference.

  16. I hear there are a lot of openings for stunt women. You know — foot in the door and all.

  17. I definitely need to attend more conferences. Pity I live in the most isolated city in the world 😉

  18. You could try a good scandal…

    • Gene Lempp on April 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm
    • Reply

    More great advice, I look forward to one day getting to attend a lecture by Professor Lamb 🙂

    As for the Hollywood career…show don’t tell…you could just start acting a scene, oblivious to everything else, draw in the crowd and prepare for adulation and a hail of roses…

  19. hey kristen, at least you’re enjoying a bit of cool weather here in sunny L.A. and you’re right, “we are not alone” – how can we be, when people like you are out there helping us connect? best of luck on the remainder of your trip. and remember – here in L.A., anything is possible! best, therese

  20. Start by being an extra and then work from there. 😉

  21. Anything can happen at any time…I truly hope that things go your way soon. Doors always open nobody else can open and they shut when nobody else can shut them. If you don’t get noticed in LA–it’s their loss. It will work out! Wait and see! 😀

  22. You didn’t tell me you wanted a movie deal! I just saw you at RT. I know people who know people. Really….

    Well, you’re pretty enough to be in Hollywood, so just keep trolling. Just stay off Hollywood Blvd. Scary people troll THERE.

    Safe trip home!

  23. If you can’t be famous, there’s plenty of ways to become infamous. Follow the patron saints of infamy….Like Paris, Monica, Snooki, um…who else.

  24. Kristen, nice blog as always 🙂

    Funnily enough, I am also continually working on building connections toward a movie deal. Apparently fantasy movies are insanely popular and commercially successful… I just need to get the right people to know about my book.

    Many of my readers keep telling me that my books would make fantastic movies and I just wish a director would pick up my book one day.

    They could make a movie based on social networking, after all… “The Social Network” was a commercially successful film.


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