Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Anna David has been on staff at Premiere and Parenting, was a fulltime freelancer at People, had a contract with Us Weekly, and wrote a sex and relationship column for Razor. She’s done investigative pieces on crystal meth use among film executives and high-class prostitution in Hollywood for Details, prompting Liz Smith to praise her for “carving out a niche uncovering the seedy side of deluxe living.” She regularly appears on Today as a pop culture expert and Reality Remix (Fox’s Reality Network) as a relationship commentator. She’s also been on Hannity & Colmes, Showbiz Tonight (CNN), Dayside (Fox), The Best Damn Sports Show Period (Fox), The Most (MSNBC), The Other Half (NBC), Cold Pizza (ESPN), The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life (Style Network), Queer Edge (Q Network), MTV News, CNN, E!, and VH1.

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Party Girl; HarperCollins, May 29, 2007

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long did it take before your novel was published?

I wrote the book in about eight months, and contacted the one literary agent I knew, who told me that he didn’t know when he could read it and wouldn’t consider looking at it if I submitted it to any other agents. Randomly, two agents had stumbled onto my website, where I had links to hundreds of articles I’ve written and emailed me to say that they were interested in me if I ever chose to go into book writing. The timing of all this was bizarre and amazing, as those kinds of emails had never come before or since. Deciding between the two was simple: one spoke so passionately and with so much knowledge about my book, immediately informing me that it was almost twice the length that it needed to be and we had to change the title to sell it because a book called Party Girl had just come out (we since changed it back, obviously). She also had a super glamorous name. (I can’t lie – silly things like this make a difference to me.) I reworked the book based on her notes and a few weeks later, she submitted it to about 10 houses. In an effort to drum up heat on the material, she told the editors that I was going to be coming to New York (from LA) so they’d better read the book quickly and let her know if they wanted to meet with me (this was all a vicious lie, as I had no impetus to come to town if none of them actually wanted to meet with me). I came in and met with four publishing houses on a Thursday and Friday and the following Monday, my agent held an auction. My top choice made an offer. That was in January 2006 and the book is coming out now, a year and a half later. They had me do a minor rewrite but most of the time has been spent waiting.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

Not leveling my expectations. I have very black and white thinking, so I could only imagine my book not selling or a bidding war ensuing and netting me half a million dollars. When my book sold, I lamented the fact that it hadn’t made me instantly wealthy overnight rather than relishing in how truly lucky I was for it to have sold so quickly.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Start working on your next one. Rachel Resnick said that to me while I was losing my mind over choosing the right agent. She asked me if I wanted to spend my time worrying about the business angles of my career or actually writing and if I was more invested in the writing, why not use the time to start on a new project? It was excellent advice, not only because it got me to take my mind off of the business side – which I couldn’t control – but also because it got me to look at the bigger picture of my career.

What is the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

I’m not sure this counts as advice but I remember when I was rewriting Party Girl getting a pamphlet in the mail from UCLA that said something like “Every writer needs to take a class if they hope to rewrite their book correctly.” And the class they were offering was, of course, a few thousand dollars. I’m very gullible and I believed them but I called my friend Melissa de la Cruz, who’s written something like 10 books and asked her if it was true. She laughed and I threw the mailing out and finished my rewrite.

What is something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

That writing a novel isn’t that hard. Yes, of course it’s difficult on a certain level. But once it was done, I had the same feeling I did when I quit smoking, which was that if someone had told me how do-able this really was, I would have done it years ago. If you can banish perfectionism and accept the fact that what you’re putting on the page probably isn’t great but it doesn’t matter because you’re going to be rewriting it anyway, and then just sit at the computer every day, then you can write a novel.

What are a few of your favorite books?

The Great Gatsby, The Corrections, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Permanent Midnight, Wake Up, Sir!, A Clockwork Orange, London Fields, Rachel’s Holiday

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

I’m proud of my novel, Party Girl, because I believe I was able to take the most important experience of my life (getting sober) and write about it in a way that’s not overly earnest or preachy – in my better moments, I believe it truly could help people who might be terrified of that path to see that getting sober can mean your life is just beginning and not ending (as I had thought at the time). I’m also proud of some of the investigative pieces I did for Details – particularly this one about high-class prostitution in Hollywood, where I spent about six months infiltrating a world I knew nothing about and exposing some of its grittier secrets (I’ve actually fictionalized a lot of what I unearthed during that piece for the novel I just finished, Kept).

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

When I’m actively working on a book, I’m pretty obsessive about it so it usually means writing at all hours and then spending the time I’m not writing – when I’m out with friends or at the gym or the market or in a movie -- thinking about it and constantly pulling out a pad to write down ideas for it. I’m striving for more balance these days, however, so I’m trying to limit myself to working on it just during the work day for between three and five hours.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

There are so many but the first that comes to mind is Jonathan Franzen’s ability to create such well-developed, realistic characters in The Corrections. I find that I’m really good at creating characters that are a lot like me but struggle with anyone who falls too far outside me or what I can imagine for myself. Franzen, meanwhile, manages to give us a mother grasping to hold onto her denial, a senile father, a lesbian daughter, and two frustrated but wildly different sons and each one of them rings as true as the other.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I’d love to be able to stretch more as a writer – do novels that aren’t based so much on my own experiences. My goal for the next one, for instance, is to have it take place somewhere besides Los Angeles. I’d love to be able to do anything I haven’t yet attempted: write in second person, write from the point of view of several different characters (a la Franzen), do flashbacks – anything that still scares me right now.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part is being in the flow and realizing that something is coming together or writing lines that give me the chills because they’re honest or true in a way I hadn’t ever quite been able to articulate or even realize before. Also, coming up with funny lines is always thrilling. My least favorite part is when it’s not flowing: those days that I can’t stomach the notion of sitting down in front of the computer, when I’m sick to death of my characters and of my mind.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I do anything I can. Some call it self-promotion, I call it marketing. I’ve built up My Space profiles, blogged, done every TV show I can and even made a viral video promoting the book. I have a newsletter sign-up on my website and am send out a blast next week to about 1000 people. I also hired an outside publicist and her efforts, combined with the contacts I’ve built up over the past decade of writing for magazines, have culminated in pieces on me or mentions of the book in places like Cosmo, Redbook, and the New York Post. My advice is do everything you can!

Parting words?

Thanks so much!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to share your story. I like that you address tough issues that you know something about and do it in a non-preachy way.

  2. Thanks, Anna.

    I loved reading about your atypical journey to publication.

    Like there is a normal. Ha. But encouraging none-the-less.

  3. Thanks for sharing your journey, Anna. Kelly, you're right - no journey is the same. But I agree with Anna about working on your next book and leave the pitching to your agent. ;)

  4. Great interview Anna. Thanks for giving us a look into your story. What an amazing journey you are having.


Don't be shy. Share what's on your mind.