An Interview With Author Anthony Uzarowski
Anthony Uzarowski has an MA in Film Studies from University College London. He has written articles and essays on different aspects of classic and contemporary cinema, with his work published in The Guardian, Film International, and Queerty. His first book was "Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies" co-written with Kendra
Bean (Running Press, 2017) and he has three more forthcoming books: biographies of Jessica Lange (University Press of Kentucky) and Lauren Bacall (University Press of Mississippi) and FRIENDS OF DOROTHY: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Icons by Anthony Uzarowski (Imagine Books/Charlesbridge).
How many books have you written that were published and how did you become a published author?
My first book was Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies, co-written with my dear friend and awesome writer Kendra Bean. It was published in 2017 by Running Press/Hachette. Currently, I have two more books awaiting publication in 2023, both represented by the Lee Sobel Literary Agency.
The book proposal I did for Ava was the first proposal I had ever done and it got picked up straight away which was very lucky – I now realize just how fortunate I’d been on my journey to publication. I owe a lot to my friend Kendra who had already written one book and who introduced me to her agent (who subsequently became my first agent) and had contacts at Running Press. I’m sure it would have been much tougher had I been on my own – but at the end of the day, while writing can be very solitary, the publishing business is very much about contacts and networking.
Without burning any bridges, what are some of the best and worst experiences you've had with the book publishing business?
I think the worst part of it is the rejections – as with any creative work when you put your heart and soul out there only to get turned down, it stings. I’ve had quite a few of those along the way – giving people false hope or failing to make a decision for months on end only to say no is not cool. But equally, I believe that the business is still full of people who love books and love to read and want to discover new ideas and new talent. Working with my recent editor at Kentucky University Press has been a real joy. As a writer, I want to work with people who get excited about the projects and who respect me and my work.
What makes a good literary agent and what do you expect them to do for you?
I’ve come to realize that a good literary agent wants to see your books sold and published just as much as you do – the last thing you want is an agent who is indifferent and lacks enthusiasm. It’s like finding the right shrink – you really want to make sure that you understand each other and that your agent ‘gets’ you.
Where do you see the book publishing business going in the future? Will there still be book stores? Will
people buy less and less physical books?
I don’t see books and bookstores disappearing anytime soon. People still love physical books. But much like the film industry and many other creative industries, the publishing world is in danger of becoming a victim of over-commercialization. There has to be room for a diverse range of topics and authors and young and emerging writers need to be paid properly – the imbalance between those getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in advances and those getting a couple of grand to write a book is insane.
If you could change anything about the book business, what would it be?
I hate how much the business is just that – a business. It can be disheartening to see some great writers and ideas being shot down because they’re deemed not ‘saleable’ or because the author doesn’t have a social media presence or some similar nonsense. If I could change anything I would make it more open and more willing to take creative risks.
If you could impart any wisdom to would-be authors about getting their first book published, what would you tell them to try to help them?
The cliche, don’t give up, works pretty well. Be consistent – it’s not enough to be a good writer or have a good idea for a book. You have to follow through and do the leg work. Find a good agent. Do your research. And remember that a yes from a publisher is only the beginning – don’t forget that you will actually have to deliver on what you’ve promised so be careful not to sell yourself or your project as something you can’t deliver.
(c) Lee Sobel, 2022