Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Liz Worth

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Liz Worth is a Toronto-based author. Her first book, Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, was the first to give an in-depth account of Toronto’s early punk scene. She has also released a poetry collection called Amphetamine Heart and a novel called PostApoc. You can reach her at, on Facebook or Twitter.

You can contact Liz throughout the month of October at

The Proust Questionnaire, with Liz Worth

We are so excited to welcome Liz Worth as our October 2015 writer-in-residence! Liz is an acclaimed multi-genre writer, and her latest book is No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol (BookThug).

No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol

By Liz Worth

From BookThug:

When Andy Warhol’s a, A Novel was first published in 1968, The New York Times Book Review declared it “pornographic.” Yet over four decades later, a, A Novel continues to be an essential documentation of Warhol’s seminal Factory scene. And though the book offers a pop art snapshot of 1960s Manhattan that only Warhol could capture, it remains a challenging read. Comprised entirely of unedited transcripts of recorded conversations taped in and around the Warhol Factory, the original book’s tone varies from frenetic to fascinating, unintelligible to poetic.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

The thing that terrifies me the most about writing

It came out of me the in a journal entry the other day, a fear I know has been swimming around inside for years now, but one that I never fully articulated, or maybe even fully acknowledged, until it was right in front of my face:

I don’t know if I want to write forever if it always feels like such an unsustainable way of living.

There seems to be a common thread among writers as I’ve so often heard people say that they write because they have to. Because it fills a need that they have, or brings them enjoyment.

And I think this is something that anyone who starts to pursue professional writing starts to figure out pretty quickly if they haven’t already. Because the money doesn’t show up for a lot of writers, so that can’t be the motivation. Neither can fame.

Literary readings: Do you have to do them?

Picking up from where I left off about book launches, today I’m talking about whether writers really need to read from their work to promote it.

Books are sometimes (often?) tricky things to sell. There is major competition out there and figuring out how to stand out, how to get someone to walk into a bookstore and say, “I want to buy THAT author’s book” is a big question.

Doing readings is a big part of book promotion and a lot of publishers ask their writers to make appearances at literary nights and, if you’re lucky, festivals and other events.

How to start an author blog

A lot’s been made about “author platforms” over the past few years. Marketers love jargon and “platform” is just another word for presence.

“The line between writer and creative entrepreneur is thinning all the time. Soon it might just disappear,” writes novelist and blogger Justine Musk, who has long been encouraging writers to start blogging well before they are even published.

The problem with working for free

When I first started writing, I took any opportunities I could.

First, I interned at a magazine for a high co-op program. Later, I wrote CD reviews for free, got a few poems published in some zines, and started to figure out how to become a freelance writer (and eventually get paid for it).

It made sense at the time because I was trying to build up my portfolio with the hopes of one day going to journalism school. I had a goal attached to it all and I saw it as a short-term solution.

How spending time with your influences helps overcome creative blocks

It happens to everyone: Everything is humming along nicely with a project and then, bam! You have no idea where to go next. The words aren’t coming anymore, the ideas have stalled, and your confidence is shaken.

This is where it can help to step back and revisit your influences.

Is there a specific project or person who inspired what you’re currently working on? Re-read some of their work. Go to a museum to look at their art.

Or just go to a museum and look at anyone’s art for afternoon.

Reconnecting with your sources of inspiration can help you reconnect with yourself. Sometimes it just helps to get away from our same-old desks and same-old chairs and get a different perspective for a while. Writing is a marathon and sometimes you want to get off the course for a while.

Why I don’t want you to buy my book (from me)

“I want to buy your book, but I want to do in a way where you’ll get the most money. Should I buy it from you?”

I love this question. It’s one of I’ve had several times over the years from well-meaning friends and acquaintances.

I love it because it shows that people actually want to see others succeed and do well and be rewarded for their work. And it shows that people care about where their money and the impact that it has.

So of course, they’re usually surprised when I tell them I would prefer that they buy it from a store or online instead of from me.

Why your book doesn't really need a launch party

A couple of years ago, I finally admitted something to myself:

I hate organizing launch parties.

Like, completely just no.

I love coming up with ideas for them. I love talking about them. I love making posters or flyers for them. I love figuring out what will happen at them.

But I have the pressure that goes along with getting people to come out.

Maybe that’s the price of living in a big city. Sure, we have so much freedom when it comes to running with our ideas and making things happen. But we’re also competing with every other event that’s happening every single night.

Finding inspiration in Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol is arguably one of the most quotable artists to have lived.

And although much mystery and controversy surrounds his powerful legacy, there is so much inspiration that can be drawn from his statements.

How tarot can help you with your writing

I was 13 the first time I tried to see the future in a playing card.

I’d been at the grocery store with my parents, and in the checkout line was a small rack of books. I was immediately drawn to one called The Little Book of Fortune Telling. For a mere 89 cents, my life would be changed forever.

I spent that summer studying the section on cartomancy – divination using playing cards – while Sally Jessie Raphael and Jenny Jones chatted on in the background. Needless to say, it was a great summer.

The importance of creative rituals

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”
- Chuck Close

For years now I’ve used a very simple way to mark the moment when it’s time to write: I light a stick of incense.

There is something very primal and powerful in the act of setting something aflame, whether it’s incense or a candle or some sage. It sets a meditative, purposeful mood that brings on a certain kind of focus and atmosphere.

So when my incense starts, that means my writing starts – no matter what. I don’t wait for words to appear. I just get to work.

Why writers need to talk about work

Like a lot of people out there, I used to think that anyone who had a book published must be “making it” as a full-time writer. I didn’t wonder how much they might actually be making, just assumed that they were getting by just fine.

And then I became a writer and learned how very, very misguided my thinking had been. In fact, I was quickly schooled in the double-life that so many authors lead. We know writers through their bylines and spines of their books, but rarely do we know the details of their lives outside of that.

When people used to ask me if I was a full-time author, I would tell them that getting published is not equivalent to winning Cash for Life and that yes, I do work and yes, I need the money.

Should you hire a book publicist?

In my last post, I wrote about some of the questions authors might want to get clear on when it comes to publicising their books, especially when it comes to understand a publisher’s commitment to promoting a new title.

Now, I’m going to talk about what happens if you decide to maximize your chances of getting press for your book by hiring a publicist.

Notice how I said maximize your chances of getting press? That’s because publicity is often a game of odds. Sure, we all want to believe our books could be The Next Big Thing, but we also need to remember that there are no guarantees in publicity. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try.

Getting press: The questions to ask about publicity before your book is published

“My last book did not get a single review,” a friend told me last year after the release of his third title. “The publisher didn’t do anything to promote it, and I didn’t have time.”

This is, unfortunately, a story I’ve heard many times. And unfortunately, sometimes promotional promises are made by publishers when a book is sold. They say they’ll make an effort to push it, but that effort might not be what a book needs.

And it’s also very common to hear writers talk about not knowing how to promote themselves to the press or to book bloggers.

For some, self-promotion comes as naturally as breathing while it makes others want to curl up and die. But often, even those who are uncomfortable promoting themselves still want their work to be recognized, and rightly so.

How to make a book soundtrack

I’ve always thought that if I ever make a movie, choosing the soundtrack would be one of the things I would be most excited to do.

So I figured why not do the same for a book?

Even though I’m not big on listening to music while I write (I tend to get too focused on the lyrics, and I don’t feel I need any other background noise besides the sounds that are already around me), I do think that creating a book soundtrack can add an additional element to a book.

When you give readers something to listen to along with your book – and this can work with fiction, poetry, or non-fiction – it can tell them something more about the story. It can create different moods and give them a whole other dimension to your work.

An etiquette expert weighs in on how to handle the most awkward questions authors get

“So is being a writer what you really want to do some day?”

This is a question that someone asked me when they found out I had just had a book published.

“Well, I’m doing it now, actually,” I said.

“Oh. Yeah. I guess you are.”

As awkward and potentially inappropriate as it was, I could see where this was coming from. My first book had been out for a few months and I was working a day job. If I hadn’t had the job, the question probably wouldn’t have come up. A different scenario might have been assumed instead.

I was also once asked, “So how much do you make per book? Because my friend is a writer and he says he only gets about ten cents for every book he sells.”

Why you need a creative manifesto (and how to write your own)

I wrote my first creative manifesto in 2011, inspired by author and blogger Justine Musk’s own efforts to do the same after she wrote about the competition for a writer’s attention these days.

It isn’t enough to just write. Many of us also end up being our own agents, managers, publicists, and marketing departments. Our attention is spread between social media and websites and readings and of course the everyday joys and responsibilities of life: work and families and friends and everything in between.

This is where the manifesto comes in handy. Because there are so many things that can pull us from our path, or at least distract us long enough to forget to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But as Musk so eloquently reminds us, “When we commit to the path, we win.”

Self-promotion doesn’t have to suck: A crash course in online marketing

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, as a writer, you live in a time when easy, free marketing opportunities are available en masse these days.

The bad news is that regardless of the number of options you have to promote yourself, none of them are magic bullet to critical acclaim, fame, or sales.

BUT…that doesn’t mean that marketing shouldn’t be a priority for you.

I know there are lot of writers out there who just want to write. And I hear you: self-promotion can feel weird, and I understand hesitating to put any extra time into anything other than your writing itself.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.