Thursday, April 17, 2014

Becoming a publisher

Writer Abroad has taken a new step in her writing career: becoming a publisher.

Naturally, doing anything for the first time is a bit scary, but Writer Abroad learned from her experience as an expat that doing scary things usually result in rewarding outcomes.

Life in Switzerland.
The not-made-for-TV version.
So she’s publishing a book of previously published and new essays. It’s called SWISS LIFE: 30 THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN.  And it’s all about life in Switzerland—the not-made-for-TV version. The book will be coming out at the end of May. Just in time for a reading at The English Bookshop in Zurich at 7 p.m. on May 23.

Thus, Writer Abroad apologies in advance (Americans always say they are sorry, so sorry, this apology is part of her culture) for any obnoxious self-promotion that may or may not occur on this blog. She takes full responsibility for it.

As Writer Abroad prepares for the next month of intense publishing activities—buying ISBNs, submitting various formats of texts and covers to printers and websites, and beginning the marketing campaign—she’s also excited.

She’s learning that she likes publishing. As a perfectionist, she likes having control over her work. She likes picking her designers and editors. She likes using her ten years of experience in advertising and marketing to come up with ideas to sell her own product instead of someone else’s. And she likes seeing how the last seven years of networking and blogging is beginning to pay off. But most of all, she likes making her own luck.

Because that’s what being your own publisher is all about. When you publish something yourself, you make your own luck. No one is telling you what to do. You are using your talents and your connections to put something into the world that you believe in. Your success is entirely up to you. It’s an exciting time to be a writer—whether abroad or at home.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Writing fiction. A social project?

Writer Abroad is reading a great book called Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s about how our current world is built for extroverts. Study a few job descriptions—at least in the US—and you’ll see that most jobs want us to be super enthusiastic, real go-getters, and team players.

You’ll even see these qualities desired in jobs for…gulp, writers.

It’s true. In many writing jobs Writer Abroad has held, she’s had to brainstorm in big groups, try to write something while a team critiques it, or compose headlines out-loud in front of people.

Cringing yet, fellow writer introverts?

Group work does not bring out the best in writers, at least for most writers Writer Abroad knows—including herself. In fact, she knows that writing collaboration hinders her work. She would much prefer to hide in a corner and write. Alone. Without having to act enthusiastic about it.

So what happens to us writer introverts when a new technology comes along that makes writing a social project? A start-up in Toronto, called Wattpad, is both fascinating and frightening to Writer Abroad.

Wattpad is a social network of readers and writers. It has over 2 million writers and 20 million readers. When writers upload something, comments about their work are posted within seconds from readers. Writers often post stories or chapters on the fly and then delete them just as fast. It’s reading and writing for a world with ADD. And it’s working.

What will this do for traditional publishing—let alone the e-book world as it is today? Will the next popular authors go from being traditional introverts to risk-taking, quick posting extroverts? Or is writing for the Internet, with a screen in front of us and not a person, completely different and actually beneficial for writer introverts?

Only time and technology will tell.

Do you use Wattpad either as a reader or writer? If so, what is your experience with it?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Writing residency on a train, anyone?

Writer Abroad (usually) loves writing on trains. That is, if she has the right seat (not next to a cell phone talker or a toddler—especially her own) and has remembered her noise-cancelling headphones and laptop.

Photo by Brian Opyd
Now, there’s a perfect writing residency for writers who like to travel, which probably includes all writers living abroad.

Also, these residencies are open to anyone.

Here’s the deal. Applications will soon be opening for Amtrak’s Free Writer Residencies. Writers can receive a two to five day round-trip journey that includes a private sleeper car and a desk on most routes across the United States. Up to 24 writers will be selected.

If you’re concerned about the commercial nature of this residency, The New Yorker has a nice piece debating whether there is a conflict of interest between a commercial entity like Amtrak who may require its writers to write, tweet, or blog about their residency.

But really, if you look at the history of the arts, we wouldn’t have Mozart or Handel or most of Western Civilization’s greatest music if not for patrons. So from that standpoint, Writer Abroad says, apply to Amtrak!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

International Writing Round-up

What's going on in the international writing world? Thanks for asking. Here is a list of the latest from Writer Abroad.

IndieReCon, a free online conference designed to help any writer or author who is curious about independent publishing, will be held February 25-27. Register at

Has the rise of confessional blogs made it harder to publish personal essays? Find out in an interview Writer Abroad did with Susan Johnston over on The Freelance Strategist about personal essay writing in the age of oversharing.

Looking for books about Switzerland or expatriate life? Last week Writer Abroad recommended ten great ones over on her other blog, One Big Yodel.

What authors are earning? Writer Abroad recently discovered and was amazed at the difference between what independently published authors are making as opposed to traditionally published ones. See the report for yourself—indie authors out-earn traditionally published authors in all categories but one.

Finally, the London Author Fair will be held February 28. The one-day event features seminars, workshops, one-on-one collaborator hubs, a live PitchUp! literary agent submissions event, and networking.

Any news you'd like to share? Leave a comment.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

More Writing Workshops in Europe This Spring

Europe is the place to be a writer this spring and summer. 

Coming up in Amsterdam, Amal Chatterjee and Jane Draycott will host a creative writing weekend March 14-16. If the two plus days of sessions led by experienced writers and teachers don't inspire your writing, the setting of central Amsterdam–surrounded by bookshops, the canals, and history–will.
Parisian cafés will be ready to welcome
a group of international writers in June

In Zurich, spots for the Zurich WritersWorkshop (May 23-25) have been filling fast. So fast, that the fiction section now has a waiting list. But there are a few openings remaining for Writer Abroad’s From Hobby to Career: How to Make a Living as a Writer section. This course is perfect for those wanting to learn more about writing for magazines and newspapers, personal essay writing, copywriting, and more. 

Finally, Paris. The week-long Paris Writers Workshop will be held June 22-27 at the American University of Paris. More information, including faculty, will be announced soon.

Any other writing workshops going on out there? Leave a comment.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Zurich Writers Workshop 2014

Registration is now open for the 5th Annual Zurich Writers Workshop, which will take place May 23-25, 2014.

Writer Abroad co-founded the Zurich Writers Workshop back in 2010 when she learned a lesson about living abroad: if you want something in your adopted country or city and it doesn’t exist, sometimes you have to create it yourself.

New logo designed by Michael K. Wright
Five years later, English-language writing support in Zurich–thanks to her workshop, and also to Nuance Words–actually exists. In fact, one British writer living in Zurich who Writer Abroad spoke to last weekend said she didn’t want to move back to London because the writing environment in Zurich was so good. Writer Abroad considered this the best compliment she’s ever gotten.

Anyway, this year, the Zurich Writers Workshop will feature two different courses. The first, taught by Anne Korkeakivi, will focus on both short and long fiction. The second workshop, taught by Chantal Panozzo, aka Writer Abroad, will discuss ways to make a living as an international creative person.

On May 23, Orell Füssli The Bookshop will host a reading featuring the two authors. This reading is free and open to the public.

If any of this sounds mildly interesting, you can find out more at

Thursday, January 16, 2014

5 ways you know your personal essay is personal enough

Writer Abroad's fear of being too personal soon turned to joy
Writer Abroad has always loved writing personal essays. But she’s also always struggled with how personal to make them. In fact, it took her six years, nine months, and 14 days (approximately) to find the right amount of reveal.

So here’s a quick answer for those of you wondering how personal you should be: More than you want to be.

More specifically, here’s how you know if you’ve made your essay personal enough or not:
  1. Your piece says something the mainstream doesn’t usually say.
  2. When your essay is accepted for publication, you’re joyful—but also scared.
  3. The day of publication you are extra edgy.
  4. The day of publication your husband tells you that you are hormonal.
  5. When you first see it published, you think you shouldn’t have submitted it.

Congratulations. Your piece will be a success because you have PES (Personal Essay Syndrome).

Writer Abroad speaks from experience. On Monday, her Learning to Love Motherhood essay, which Writer Abroad considers her most “naked” piece ever, was published in Brain, Child Magazine. And because her essay was about her struggle to accept motherhood in a world where people are supposed to fall instantly in love with their infants, she was nervous about how people would react to it.

Anyway, after the publication of the piece on Monday, a funny thing happened: all the people that Writer Abroad was scared to reveal herself to (including her boss—somehow he even read the piece…) didn’t judge her on any part of it—the only thing they had for her now? A new respect for her honesty and bravery. Now that was something to love about being personal (along with her essay’s 89 likes on Brain, Child’s Facebook page­…but who’s counting?).


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