The Fast Five With … Eric Smith
By Christine Duval
Probably the nicest thing about being an author is the opportunity to meet fellow authors and talk shop. Last year after Book Expo America, a few of us debut authors convened for dinner at a classic New York City diner after three whirlwind days at the Javits Center (and many sore feet). Eric Smith was one of them, joining us after his book signing. Actually, I think the diner was his suggestion. Super-talented, down to earth, and truly in touch with his audience, we all can learn something from him. His first book, the very funny The Geek’s Guide to Dating, was one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year in 2013 and has sold in six languages. His debut novel, Inked, is out now. Eric is an author, blogger and literary agent. A regular contributor to sites like BookRiot, The Huffington Post, Paste, and Barnes & Noble’s book blogs, he’s also written articles for both Philadelphia Weekly and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Welcome Eric!♥
1) What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever written?
Oooh, this is a tough one! Probably this essay that I read at the Jersey City Literary Festival last year. See, I really, really love writing essays, but find that I have a really difficult time writing things that are … well, serious. This particular essay was about my Dad and why we stopped playing sports together. It had a really funny plot involving me … er … having an embarrassing accident as a kid in a bathroom at a baseball game. But it was about family, and that sort of stuff is always tough to write about. Plus it was about the single most embarrassing moment in my childhood, and was a story I promised myself I’d never tell anyone. I even said that during the reading! It was a big secret. In the end, I was glad I read the thing. It got a lot of laughs, and it was pretty fun. But still haven’t even published it. I should get on that!
2) If you could collaborate with another author on a project, who would it be and why?
Another good question! Hm. Well, there are lots of obvious answers, like authors I’m a big fan of. But then we probably wouldn’t get anything done, as I’d just fanboy the entire time. Like, my first answer would be Nick Hornby, but then I would probably just sob quietly into my hands sitting next to him in a coffeeshop. “Eric, we really need to work on this novel. Eric, please stop crying. Please.” You know, I’d probably try to work on a book with my friend Jon McGoran. He’s an author from Philly who writes really awesome, intense thrillers (look up Drift immediately). He’s incredible at doing research, and I feel like I’d learn a lot from him. Plus we get along great.
3) What do you like most about being an author?
The random tweets and emails from people who have read something of mine. Interacting with them makes me really happy. Especially on Instagram. I love searching for my book in hashtags, and leaving comments for unsuspecting readers, especially people reading the foreign editions of my Geek Dating book.
4) How do you motivate yourself to write?
Coffee. So much of it. That, and I try to hold myself to a routine. Generally, I can be found writing every Sunday, spending the day typing away. But for the most part, it’s my friends holding me accountable. Writing buddies will keep you motivated, always.
5) What do you feel are the top three qualities one must possess to make it as an author today?
One: A thick skin, that’s for sure. Social media makes it so easy to see what people are saying about your writing, which includes the good and the bad. You’re going to have to learn to shrug it off and/or learn from what’s being said.
Two: A love of networking. And I don’t just mean social networking, though that’s also important. You need to want to meet people, put yourself out there, and be a real part of the community. The authors that I see regularly getting talked about the most online, are the same authors who are actively showing up places, tweeting with their fans, writing blog posts, etc.
Three: Discipline. THERE ARE SO MANY DISTRACTIONS. Netflix. Video games. Facebook. Twitter. Netflix. Blogs. Netflix. You get the deal. You need to be able to stay focused, and get the work done.
Eric Smith is the cofounder of Geekadelphia, a popular blog covering all-that-is-geek in the City of Brotherly Love, as well as the Philadelphia Geek Awards, an annual awards show held at the Academy of Natural Sciences. His first humor book, The Geek’s Guide to Dating, was published by Quirk Books in December 2013, and was an Amazon 2013 Best Book of the Year selection in Humour. His debut Young Adult novel, Inked, published with Bloomsbury Spark in January 2015.