Neil Strauss’ new book, Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life hits bookstore shelves today. And he’s kicking off a book tour with a 7pm appearance tonight at the Tribeca Barnes & Noble in New York City. In the next couple of weeks, he’s hitting DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco before heading to Europe for book signings.
In particular, Hollywood folks won’t want to miss the party at a club called H.Wood on Friday, March 13 at 7pm. The venue is located at 1738 North Orange, in the Hollywood and Highland complex. The folks from Book Soup will be there selling copies of the book and I’m told there’s going to be live wild animals as well.
In the interest of full disclosure, as most of you know, I work with Neil Strauss. So handle these comments as you see fit…
In Emergency, Strauss infiltrates and explores another hidden subculture. This time, he meets billionaires with outrageously expensive escape plans, survivalists able to live in harsh conditions with just a knife, citizenship lawyers, and a whole bunch of Rambo-type folks. At first blush, this adventure seems absurd. But with each headline, with each depressing day in the news, this material starts to hit much closer to home.
For years, people of my generation felt safe and secure. Roadside assistance takes care of our flat tires, twenty-four hour hotlines answer our medical questions, and security systems protect our homes. In times of technologically advanced gadgets, financial stability, and far-reaching government programs, it’s easy to ignore questions of survival.
But natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and Hurricane Katrina in Lousiana and Mississippi, terrorist attacks such as September 11, 2001 in New York City and the Mumbai hotel shootings, and financial implosions in markets around the world prove that we are just as vulnerable, just as threatened as earlier generations of man. Hell, a simple windstorm knocked out power in my area for seven days last summer and folks treated it like the end of days.
And, those tragic events also prove that, unfortunately, when the shit hits the fan, other folks and leviathon government agencies cannot save you.
In Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life, Strauss subjected himself to extreme training from experts all over the country so that he can save himself.
Now, hopefully you’ll never need any of the techniques described in the book. But the theme of self-reliance and taking care of yourself does have a connection to us –the aspiring authors– here at Slushpile.net.
When I first met Strauss in the fall of 2005, he told me he didn’t rely on anyone to further his writing career. Although he has a fantastic literary agent, he doesn’t rely on the agent to get book deals. He has a great editorial team, but he deligently polishes his copy as much as possible with a goal of having minimal editorial changes. He’s got a tremendous publicity staff, but he manages connections and gets the word out by himself.
“I don’t wait for other people, although I appreciate their professionalism and what they do,” he told me. “I want to be in control of my own life and career.” Over the years since we’ve become colleagues, I’ve seen this self-reliance time and time again. And it provides a lesson for all of us who are just starting our careers.
You may not have the network and resources Strauss has, but you should still take ownership of your career. Don’t turn in shitty copy with the attitude that “publishers have copy editors who will fix that.” Don’t turn off your phone and retreat to an isolated mountain cabin the week your book comes out because the PR staff can handle everything. Don’t pretend that you can insulate yourself from the publishing industry (unless you’re Thomas Pynchon or Cormac McCarthy) because your agent works with all the filthy lucre.
You are responsible for your own writing career. You have to take control. This self-reliance doesn’t mean going to the other extreme either. Don’t be that author who books himself on a 49-stop book tour without telling the publisher. Don’t be the knucklehead who changes a contract after your agent says it’s done. Professionally partner with your colleagues.
But don’t expect them to do everything. You have to take responsibility for your own career. That’s what we’re all about at Slushpile.net. However, if you want to take responsibility for moving your money to offshore accounts, well then, you’ll have to read Emergency to learn how to do that.