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7 Things I've Learned So Far: Kate Rockland

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Kate Rockland. Kate Rockland is the author of Falling is Like This, her debut novel. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Style section.

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Kate Rockland, author of FALLING IS LIKE THIS) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent -- by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

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Kate Rockland is the author of Falling is Like This,
her debut novel. She is a frequent contributor
to the
New York Times Style section and has
also written for
Playboy, Rolling Stone, Us Weekly,
Time Out New York, and Spin. She now lives in
Hoboken, NJ, with a ridiculously large CD
collection. See her website here.


1. A quick laugh goes a long way.
If you’re going to bug your agent by e-mail, be sure to include a funny story along with it. Such as, “Hey, have you heard from publishers? Now, let me tell you this great story about when I tried to potty train my cat...” They like that.

2. Skip the small accolades. When sending out query letters for potential placement of your book in the press, don’t mention that first place medal you won in second grade for spelling “serendipitous” correctly. That way you won’t be crushed when they say they don’t care.

3. Wear a funny T-shirt when you do a book reading. It gets people talking, and perhaps even pointing at you. My favorite is “I don’t like Bon Jovi: I love him.”

4. Read your working manuscript only to your cats. I made the mistake of asking my father to read it, and he asked if I really had to keep in the sex scenes. Yes, Dad, I do. Also the scenes where the character gets drunk and then has sex. When reading to your cats, notice the look of complete rapture and bliss on their furry faces, until you realize it's because you have a kibble treat stuck in your hair.

5. Do not include “Walking in Times Square in a bathing suit, handing out flyers” as a publicity idea to your publisher. I did, and received some strange looks at the board meeting.

6. You never know who's going to help you. Do not be afraid to ask your great aunt Shelly for her next-door neighbor’s cousin’s phone number. You know, the one who works at Vogue as a mail clerk? I was afraid of sounding annoying when asking for help or publicity, until I realized I’m annoying anyway, so I sent e-mails to everyone I’ve ever known remotely related to publishing, even if they got laid off from their magazine job and now they can tuna in Alaska. I repeat: When trying to get PR for your book, contact everyone. You just never know.

7. Get your hair professionally done for your author photo. It's worth the money. I did mine after running across town to catch a bus and ended up looking like a ferret.

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