Literary

Austin Kleon Signs Steal Like an Artist at Changing Hands Bookstore Tonight

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I owe every decent thing that's happened in my career to being online and sharing my work and talking to people. Newspaper Blackout came out of the fact that I was having a horrible case of writer's block, but also because I had a blog and I needed something to fill it with. I thought they were just writer's exercises, but people started to like them and ask for more.

Even when I got my job as a web designer at UT Austin, I got it based on the work on my own website. When I was hired as a copywriter at an ad agency, it was because of my writing online and my work on social media. I could not be having this career if it wasn't for the Internet.

You're constantly talking to readers via Twitter and other social media. So what is it like on tour, actually interacting with them in person?

It's different -- I don't know in what way though. It's kind of amazing. When you're talking to someone on Twitter, it's like, "Oh, they were on Twitter the same time I was." But when someone shows up to your event, it means not only do they like you, but they made the effort to come see you.

People think of the Internet as being this alternate world -- there's real life and digital life. Really, it's just a layer of real life. It's connecting people, and what's really interesting is when you get to meet those people in person.

Has anything surprised you about the tour?

In a lot of cities, a publisher arranges for you to have an escort. Escort sounds kind of racy, but usually it's an older, retired person who picks you up and drives you around. I've had really good escorts so far, all retirement age, and they have this great, vast knowledge of their cities. They're also just genuinely interesting people who've met a lot of interesting authors.

On a larger scale, the best part of being a writer and artist is the people you meet. Authors tend to complain about book tours, but for me, it's the coolest. I'm even keeping a little tour diary online.

Recently, you tweeted about a nasty Amazon user review of your book. How do you deal with that?

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