Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist




Writer with a To-Do List

Writer with a To-Do List
Jul 19, 2017 by Victoria Noe
I’m sitting here at Panera, breakfast sandwich eaten, ice tea at hand. My computer’s on, my to-do list is front of me. And I’m paralyzed.

Not literally (no pun intended). I can move. My brain just can’t decide what to do.

Should I follow up on that article that a website requested? Should I pitch a presentation to a library? Should I invite someone to lunch to pick their brain about a marketing idea? Should I score the essays I read for the contest I’m judging?


Well, then, should I finish one of the six books I’m reading for research on my next book? Should I schedule tweets and Facebook posts? Should I reach out to someone on another continent on collaborating? Should...

Do Writers Take Summer Vacation?

Do Writers Take Summer Vacation?
Jul 13, 2017 by Victoria Noe

Remember summer vacation?

Back in the days when I was a fundraising consultant, the period from Thanksgiving to mid-January was my slow time. End of the year direct mail appears had already gone out, events were wrapped up, grant proposal deadlines met. I don’t remember taking time off, though. I used those weeks to create my marketing plan for the coming year and try to get my paperwork in order for taxes. Just how long that down time lasted depended on how good a year my clients had:  the worse their end-of-year numbers, the earlier they called me in January.

Now that I’m writing, I don’t have a clear down time. There are a lot of writing conferences,...

How This Writer Found Her Street Team

How This Writer Found Her Street Team
Jun 29, 2017 by Victoria Noe

I knew next to nothing when I seriously committed to writing. An impulsive idea - to write a book about people grieving their friends - led to a series of six small books. The writers I knew all wrote romance or historical fiction, not nonfiction. I had no contacts. So I did what I’d done in my previous careers: I researched online and off. I attended my first writing conference. I took online courses. I joined a writing group. And all of that helped. But the thing that helped the most was not deliberate, not part of any grandiose career plan: I built a street team.

I had to push any ego aside, which was easier than...

The Ripples of Our Audience

The Ripples of Our Audience
May 24, 2017 by Victoria Noe
Writers are always aware that we have an audience, and not just when we’re writing. We all - no matter how we publish - create marketing plans. Often, when asked who our audience is, insist it’s ‘everyone’. But that’s not realistic or workable as a plan.

We debate the effectiveness of Facebook ads vs. newsletter offers, Amazon promotions vs. Goodreads giveaways. We have at least a pretty good idea of who our audience is: gender, age, geographic location, interests. But sometimes we can still be surprised.

I was in Boston earlier this month, speaking at The Muse and the Marketplace writing conference. It was a cold, dreary, rain-soaked weekend outside the Park Plaza Hotel, but energetic and stimulating inside.

Towards the end of the...

Self-Care for Writers: Put Yourself First

Self-Care for Writers: Put Yourself First
Apr 26, 2017 by Victoria Noe

When I started writing, I was determined to not be afraid to ask for help. I’m sure I was beyond annoying, asking about conferences to attend, software to use, metadata. But there was one thing I did not ask about: how to take care of myself.

On the surface, one would think it’s unnecessary to do anything different just because you’re a writer. Everyone should get a decent amount of sleep, eat healthy, stay active. Writing is solitary and easily isolating, so social contact is important, online or in person. I asked a number of writers how they do it.

Environmental: Most surprising to me was that self-care to some meant the act of writing itself. They created...

Public Speaking for Shy Authors

Public Speaking for Shy Authors
Apr 20, 2017 by Victoria Noe

There are a lot of shy authors out there. They just want to sit at their computer and write. They might be willing to be active on social media, but the thought of being in public terrifies them. In fact, there's a name for it: glossophobia.

It’s not that they have anything to be ashamed of: their books are good, even great. They have fascinating stories to share about their writing process, their travels and their challenges. But give a front of...people? No way. Unless you’re J.D. Salinger, this is not a good strategy.

Several years ago I was at a writing conference. I grabbed a seat near the stage because I was excited to finally...

Five Things I Learned Interviewing People for My Books

Five Things I Learned Interviewing People for My Books
Apr 05, 2017 by Victoria Noe

When I started work on the Friend Grief series, I was only sure of one thing: they would be a mix of interviews and research. They would tell the stories of men and women who struggled to deal with the death of a friend; sometimes many friends.

The first time I ever interviewed anyone was in 1976. I was in New York doing research for my master’s degree project, the development of director-choreographers in American musical theatre. I sat in Bob Fosse’s living room near Carnegie Hall and discussed his career. I don’t remember much, though I’m sure my notes are in a box somewhere. But he was gracious with his time, and for that I’ll always...

How Authors Are Rewarded

How Authors Are Rewarded
Mar 01, 2017 by Victoria Noe
Last Saturday I was part of “Path to Published”, a panel discussion put together by Chicago Writers Association. I think I can say that all of us on the panel had a great time talking about our various experiences: self-publishing, traditional and hybrid publishing.

One of the questions has really stuck with me since then. It was one that’s fairly common, one that everyone is asked eventually:

“What’s the most rewarding thing about being a writer?”

There are the obvious things: lots of people buying your books, great reviews, awards, crowds at your book signings. But that’s not what I talked about. My answer was in two parts.

With my Friend Grief series, I knew I had a hard sell. Grief is not a...

How Can You Write at a Time Like This?

How Can You Write at a Time Like This?
Feb 01, 2017 by Victoria Noe
A lot of writers I know have been struggling these past few months. Their fears about the future are on display, in their online posts and in their writing. Anxiety is rampant. So is insomnia. The news of the past two weeks has only heightened their concerns.

They are a diverse group: men and women, all the major religions, every race and generation. They live in the US and other countries. They write fiction and nonfiction, memoir and science fiction/fantasy, poetry and children’s literature.

And every one of them seems to be asking themselves the same question: How can you write at a time like this?

Writing almost seems superfluous, a luxury we can’t afford. We have to keep our eye on the...

Who Tells Your Story?

Who Tells Your Story?
Jan 24, 2017 by Victoria Noe

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” – Hamilton: An American Musical

The best movie I’ve seen in a long time is Hidden Figures, the story of the African-American female mathematicians who helped NASA put men in space. I’m old enough to remember the Mercury astronauts and when a space launch was reason to gather your family around the TV. Everyone we ever saw in the NASA control rooms was a white man. So when the movie – and book by Margot Lee Shetterly – were released, the most common reaction was “I never knew that.” The second most common reaction was “Why haven’t we heard this story before?”

Hidden Figures is not the first book or...

Why Editing is Like Physical Therapy

Why Editing is Like Physical Therapy
Jan 18, 2017 by Victoria Noe
My hand, 3 days after my accident

The end of October I fell and broke my hand. It was the first time I’ve ever broken a bone and I made up for lost time by breaking four of them. A few hours later, I was in surgery having five pins inserted (being awake for it wasn’t so bad, but I could’ve done without listening to the drill). The pins stayed in for almost five weeks. Physical therapy (more accurately, occupational therapy) began less than two weeks after the accident.

It’s a long road: at least another month of twice/weekly torture sessions and two dozen daily exercises. Full recovery will take a year, so I have a ways to...

New Year, New Book, New Day

New Year, New Book, New Day
Jan 11, 2017 by Victoria Noe
I’m a little weird about calendars. I’ll buy a planner in the fall, so I can start writing down commitments in the next year. But I refuse to put up a new wall calendar until January 1. This year I had a lot of events to add. Having my writing career – and other things – come to a full stop after breaking my hand, I’m finally beginning to play catch-up. I’m not fully healed yet, but the calendar is filling up.

Travel begins the end of March. I start where I finished so abruptly last October:  New York, to conduct the interviews I had to cancel after my accident. Then it’s down to Washington, DC for AIDSWatch, two days of...

Travel Tips for Writers

Travel Tips for Writers
Dec 14, 2016 by Victoria Noe

My friend, Porter Anderson, wrote about the importance of travel for writers. Sometimes all it takes is some alone time in a different place to dissolve writer’s block, recharge your batteries or find inspiration. And we all agree we’d do more of it if we could.

What’s stopping you?


I thought I’d expand on Porter’s tips (he won't mind), since a lot of us are making plans for 2017. Here are some ways you can make those trips happen:

Lodging. Be flexible, but loyal. Are there places you return to time and again? I’m in New York a lot. There are two hotels I’ve returned to over a dozen times. Because they’re both part of the same brand loyalty...

'Tis the Season for Writing and Giving

'Tis the Season for Writing and Giving
Nov 30, 2016 by Victoria Noe
It’s that time of year for shopping and digging a little deeper to support worthy causes.

The appeals are relentless: junk mail, phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts. Every day, starting in earnest at Thanksgiving and not letting up until New Year’s Eve. As a former fundraiser, I’ve learned over the years to ignore most of those appeals.

But the truth is, most people really do want to help. And every donation helps.

Early on in the writing of the Friend Grief series, I knew I wanted to designate a charity partner for at least one of the books. I researched organizations, met with a few of their founders. One decision came easily.

The second book –Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of...

My Day at a Library Conference

My Day at a Library Conference
Oct 20, 2016 by Victoria Noe
Sharing a table with James Gordon

In a former life, I was a vendor for Chicago Public Schools. I repped two children’s book publishers (one at a time) for fifteen years, working mostly with the school librarians. That experience could be a book in itself.

Occasionally, I had a booth at an educational conference: statewide library or teacher gatherings. I had the whole booth to myself (at considerable expense). I hauled boxes and boxes of inventory to set-up and sell, along with catalogs and order forms. It was hard work, but I usually did well. I almost always did it alone. That wasn’t unusual. A lot of vendors ran their booths alone. Only the really big companies had...

Indie Authors, Libraries and Discoverability

Indie Authors, Libraries and Discoverability
Oct 05, 2016 by Victoria Noe

What’s the hardest part of being an author?

Some people will say it’s the writing itself. Others insist it’s the editing process. But most will agree that the hardest part is figuring out how to be discovered by eager readers.

The challenge – no matter how they publish – is for their book to rise above the ever-increasing numbers of titles published each year. For those of us who are indie authors, it is daunting.

Bowker, the company that issues ISBN numbers to authors in the US, just released their report on 2015. Last year 625,327 indie titles were issued ISBN numbers in the US. That’s over 1,700 each and every day, weekends and holidays included.

Now consider the fact...

Mark Your Calendar for Indie Author Day

Mark Your Calendar for Indie Author Day
Sep 21, 2016 by Victoria Noe
I love libraries, don't you? But until recently, my books were not available there, in print or ebook. That changed when the first four Friend Grief ebooks were accepted by Library Journal's SELF-e program for their Illinois and National Select collections. Print, however, was a different story.

Authors want to see their books in public libraries: actual, physical books. But too often, indie authors are shut out. The reasons are, well, reasonable. The sheer number of indie authors is growing every day. The number of librarians is much smaller. They simply don’t have the time to meet and greet every author who walks in to sell their books.

Purchasing requirements vary from library system to library system. When you’re on your own...

5 Easy Steps to Being a Better Writer

5 Easy Steps to Being a Better Writer
Sep 13, 2016 by Victoria Noe

I’ve been to a lot of writing events: conferences, Meetups, presentations, meetings and writing groups. That’s not counting podcasts, online classes, webinars, tweet chats, and Google+ hangouts. There are times, honestly, when I just…can’t…

But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I learned something from every one of them, even if it was something that didn’t reveal itself until later. That’s happened a lot: that I hear something but it doesn’t register until long after the event is over.

So for what it’s worth, here are five things I’ve picked up on improving your writing: Write. Yeah, I know: duh. But being busy is not the same thing as being active. Talking or thinking about writing is...

The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers
Aug 23, 2016 by Victoria Noe

Writing is as solitary a profession as anyone can imagine: just you and your pen/paper/computer/typewriter. But no one, no matter how good they are, truly does it alone.

I knew when I started writing that I would have to ask for help. Normally, I like figuring things out on my own, but this was different. The publishing world was changing so fast that it was mind-numbing. It still is. So I risked looking stupid – though I was – and asked questions. A lot of questions. Sometimes I was embarrassed to ask but I did anyway (thank God for email so I didn’t have to look them in the eye).

I am constantly amazed by the willingness of...

From Mentee to Mentor – How Did That Happen?

From Mentee to Mentor – How Did That Happen?
Aug 16, 2016 by Victoria Noe
David Baldacci, #WDC16 keynote speaker

Last weekend was my sixth Writer's Digest conference in New York (I also attended one in LA). This year, for the first time, there was a way for attendees to connect pre-conference.

The organizers set up a Facebook group accessible only to those who had registered for the intense three days. The moderators were able to share information on logistics (the end point of the Dominican Day parade in front of the hotel on Sunday meant traffic issues for those trying to leave town), dress codes, nearby restaurants, etc. Many if not most of those who posted were first-time attendees quietly – or not so quietly - panicking about the Pitch Slam. If you’ve...