J.D. Salinger & Me with Joanna Rakoff discusses what it was like to work for the infamous literary agency, sharing how she answered fan mail for J.D. Salinger and, how working in a literary agency can help develop your career as an author.

You can listen to the full interview by pressing play on the embedded player at the bottom of this post. Check out our After the Show Q&A below.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (Hardcover)

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (Hardcover)

After The Show Q&A

1. What do you feel is the best way to write? Do you have a specific writing routine you follow when you are working on a new book?

For me, it varies, depending on what’s happening in my life. Sometimes, I work best very early in the morning; sometimes, I prefer to write in the afternoons, or evenings, after everyone’s asleep. In general, though, when I’m starting a project, I tend to write less, and work more slowly, taking more frequent breaks, and reading a lot. Once I’m more immersed in the world about which I’m writing, I tend to write for longer stretches—whole days, long into the night—and it’s very hard to get me to take a break. Until I hit a problem, at which point, I step away from the desk and take a walk. All that said, I do have some rules that I follow, the big one being that I don’t use the Internet at all during my writing hours. These days, I use Freedom, so that I’m not even tempted. I also put on big, noise-canceling headphones and listen to music.

 2. What was the biggest lesson you learned working at a literary agency?

That crème rises to the top. Meaning, good work will always find a publisher and an audience. So often people ask me the “secret” to getting published. But that secret is simply: write. And read. (Which will make your writing better.) Just spend your time and energy writing. Make your work the best it can be.

If you could go back in time and give your early writer self one piece of advice what would it be?

To block out the world more, to worry less about other people’s expectations for me, to be less afraid about what others thought or wanted from me. (To be less afraid, in general.)

What are you reading right now and loving?

I just finished a truly brilliant collection of stories by a writer I love, Christine Sneed, called The Virginity of Famous Men. It’s the best collection I’ve read in ages—years! I also just read Jennifer Haigh’s new novel, Heat & Light, which is about fracking in western Pennsylvania, and it brings new meaning to the term “masterful.”

Listen below to the full interview and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes.