In this week’s installment of It’s Totally a Real Job, I’m chatting with Kathleen Smith, a blogger and the author of the upcoming book, The Fangirl Life: A Guide to Feeling All the Feels and Learning How to Deal. If you read Sam Maggs’ The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, Kathleen’s book should be right up your alley! I’m so happy Kathleen took time out of her schedule to talk blogging, books, and all things geek with us. So without further ado, meet Kathleen!
What drew you in to writing, both blogging and writing books? Was it a lifelong dream, or did you just sort of stumble into becoming a book author?
I have a history of freelancing and creating blogs on a whim, but I stumbled into becoming an author. A few years ago I made a deal with myself to try and get rejected every day, so that I could become immune to hearing “no.” One day I emailed a few literary agents to reach my “no” quota, and one of them said “YES.” I still can’t believe it. I ran down the street shouting obscenities.
How is writing a book different from writing a blog?
Writing a book is about showing up. You have no idea whether it’s going to sell, whether it’s funny, or whether it’s going to need a ton of overhaul. With a blog you can more instant feedback, which has its pros and cons. Chances are you’re more likely to stress over things like SEO and social media presence with a blog, so in that sense I find it much harder to focus on content. I like the solitude of writing a book and chipping away at something.
When you started blogging, did you do it hoping one day to transition into writing books, or were you just messing around?
I’ve had blogs since before the word “blog” existed. Many lost Geocities pages. I blogged about not wearing pants for year when I was in the Glee fandom (another story). But I created Fangirl Therapy while I was writing my book. I wanted to give fangirls an opportunity to ask questions about their obsessions and their mental health, and their questions helped me tailor the topics in the book. I think I’ve always had that Frasier Crane complex where I wanted to help people with their problems.
Where did you get the idea for your book?
As a therapist I spend a lot of time thinking about what motivates people and how people change. When I looked at what motivated me, I realized that there is a lot about being a fangirling that could be used for self-help and personal growth. I sat down and starting writing about it for NaNoWriMo, and eventually I had a book!
With books like Sam Maggs’ Fangirl‘s Guide to the Galaxy, the rise of
sites like Her Universe and WeLoveFine, there is a lot of great stuff out there for fangirls. What do you hope The Fangirl Life brings into the lives of fangirls?
I’d like for the book to be a welcomed kick in the butt for young women who want to live the kind of stories they admire in fiction. As fangirls we love to joke about our intense nature, but the reality is that there is enormous potential in our passions. We just have to figure out how to harness it and start conquering like the badasses we are.
In addition to your own blog, you’ve written on several different
sites like Salon and HuffPo. What is your advice to other women
wanting to start a freelance writing career?
Send a bazillion emails. Always be friendly when you get a “no.” Make yourself immune to rejection. I got turned down multiple times at Slate, Salon, and other sites before I found a story that was a good fit for them.
What has been the hardest thing about building a platform and a blog?
Sometimes I do stress about traffic and social media currency. I’m a fangirl, so I have that obsessive personality. I’ve learned that when you have a good idea, your number of followers isn’t that important.
Do you have another book in the works?
I have some ideas I’d love to pursue! Right now my focus is on promoting The Fangirl Life. Also finishing my PhD? My poor dissertation has been so neglected.
What advice do you have for other women wanting to write a book and get published?
Success tends to magnify neuroticism and other personality traits we dislike. It’s wonderful, but it’s not going to make you happier or healthier. Never neglect the real things that make you happy, like scratching a dog’s head, playing board games, or imagining fictional people kissing.
Where can we find you online, and when does your book release?
My site is FangirlTherapy.com. Twitter is @fangirltherapy. My Tumblr is fangirltherapist, if you want to witness my current meltdown over Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. My book is out July 5, 2016, and the full title is The Fangirl Life: A Guide to Feeling All the Feels and Learning How to Deal.
Thanks so much to Kathleen for taking the time to talk with me! I hope you’re inspired to go after ALL THE WRITING DREAMS after reading about her journey. Don’t forget to check out the other amazing women I’ve spoken with (like the Mari of Sent From Mars, Geek Girl Brunch founders and Melificent) in the rest of the series, and stay tuned here every week for another women who proved success doesn’t always come in a cubicle. And if you want to continue the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #RealJob.