Erin La Rosa is the author of The Big Redhead Book and Womanskills. She’s currently working in film for Netflix, and previously served as Editorial Director for BuzzFeed. One of her passions is storytelling, and she’s performed in such series as MORTIFIED, “Funny but True” at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and Sunday Night Sex Talks. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @sideofginger and on SideofGinger.com.
Erin La Rosa talks about becoming a writer, the “secret society of red hair,” and balancing career and passion in this Author Q&A.
What led you to become a writer?
All signs in my life pointed to, “DON’T BECOME A WRITER!” Because everyone in my family is in medicine, I grew up in a small Florida town and knew nothing about how to be successful at it. And as a pale redhead with a penchant for adult acne, I was riddled with insecurities. But I just genuinely felt happy when I was writing, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, so I pursued it. And as a professor of mine once said, “The most successful writers are the ones who stick with it.” I’ve done just that!
What inspired you to write The Big Redhead Book?
Honestly, I’m obsessed with myself. Just kidding (kind of). But I wanted to write something that genuinely excited me and that I’d be happy working on for a long time (books take forever!). So I knew that I could deep dive, research, and write the heck out of this book.
Why are redheads so unique and awesome? (Asks another redhead.)
Redheads are unique in more ways than our hue. We look out for each other. We notice each other. And we’re physically different because of our hair. There’s the fact that we need more Novocaine at the dentist, that we’re the groundhogs of the human world, and sense hot and cold faster than others, among many things. Check out the book, and you’ll see that in each chapter I highlight exactly why we’ll inherit the earth (it has a lot to do with us being soulless, and outliving all the norms).
What was your process for writing it? Getting it published?
I did a lot research into how to get a book published, and luckily there’s plenty of information online! But for nonfiction, I was able to write one full chapter, and then a full book proposal, which included an outline, information about my platform, competitive titles, and more. And then I sent blind query letters to agents. Luckily I landed the incredible Kristyn Keene at ICM, and she was able to sell it to my fantastic editor at St. Martin’s Press, Jaime Coyne.
What was your favorite part of writing this book? The greatest challenge?
My favorite part of writing this book was interviewing professors and scholars so that I could debunk some redhead myths (like the “fact” that we’re going extinct, or that redheads have more sex). And the biggest challenge was just how long it took — about two years total, from the time I began writing to actually publishing the book. I am not patient, but I’m working on it. 🙂
It’s important to know that a lot of promo will fall on you—the author—yay?! So the best thing I did was message bookstagrammers I loved, asked them if they wanted a copy, and then got some beautiful photos from it.
How do you balance your career and your other creative projects?
This has been my life’s work, in a way! Because while books are incredible, they don’t pay my bills. I’m a morning person, so I’ve got my schedule very strictly planned out. I spend at least an hour each morning before work writing my own projects, so I wake up at 6 a.m., and then head to work by 9 a.m. If you’re a night person, just do your writing after work! Or if you can’t do either of those, just find 10 minutes a day—a lunch break, right before bed, whatever you can scrounge up. Even 10 minutes a day adds up to something.
Tips for non-fiction authors?
Think about audience—specifically, who is going to buy this. Writers don’t often think about their work in terms of a business strategy, but if you want a publisher to buy it, you’ll need to sell them on why!
Additional advice for writers?
Just do it. Writing is the hardest bit. Your first draft will be crap, but then you’ll rewrite and it will slowly look less and less like crap. It’ll eventually be the best non-crap you can think of.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
Rejection is a bitch, truly. But now that I’ve been at this for a bit, I don’t worry about rejection as much. When I used to submit stories and get rejections, it would send me into such a funk. I’d sit in an empty bathtub listening to Christmas music and smoking cigarettes (true story!). But rejections WILL happen. So just knowing that, and knowing that you can move past it, has gotten me a lot of clarity and confidence. Screw rejection, y’know?Tags: Author Q&A Book Marketing Book Promotion Erin La Rosa Getting Published Nonfiction Publishing The Big Redhead Book Womanskills Writing