Home > NewsRelease > Bad Book Deals, Getting a Good One, & Writing Memoir with Negative Space’s Lilly Dancyger
Bad Book Deals, Getting a Good One, & Writing Memoir with Negative Space’s Lilly Dancyger
San Francisco Writers Conference San Francisco Writers Conference
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Friday, July 9, 2021


Lilly Dancyger is the author of Negative Space, a reported and illustrated memoir selected by Carmen Maria Machado as a winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards. Lilly is also the editor of Burn It Down, a critically acclaimed anthology of essays on women’s anger. Her writing has been published by Guernica, Lit Hub, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and more.

Podcast host Matthew Felix invited Lilly to be on the show as soon as he finished reading her Electric Literature essay

called, “Canceling My Book Deal Was the Best Career Move I’ve Ever Made: A contract that doesn’t suit your needs or expectations could be worse than no book deal at all.”

Lilly shared with Matthew her journey from getting her first book deal, to realizing it wasn’t the right one, to the agonizing decision to get out of it. She then shared what she did after canceling her deal, including how she applied the lessons learned, eventually resulting in her getting a deal that was right for her and her book.

Red flags with Lilly’s first book deal included: no distribution, no help with marketing and publicity, and no round of edits with the publisher.

Lilly discussed criteria she used to find a small press that would work for her, including ones with national distribution, a robust social media presence, and ones that had published books she was familiar with.

Matthew and Lilly discussed her memoir, NEGATIVE SPACE, which explores her grief, anger, and artistic inheritance as she sets out to illuminate the darkness her father—an artist and heroin addict—hid from her, as well as her own.

Lilly talked about what she initially thought the book was about, and how her conception of it quickly evolved into something more personal as the project progressed.

Matthew and Lilly discussed addiction, a central theme throughout the book, including some common misconceptions.

Lilly explained how she did (or did not) reconcile the father she idolized with the man she learned more about—including some things she might have preferred not to discover—while researching the book.

Negative Space is out now.

Podcast editing and episode notes by author and podcast producer and host Matthew Félix (matthewfelix.com).

The San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change conference are both produced by the San Francisco Writers Conference & San Francisco Writers Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The SFWC Director is Laurie McLean.  For registration help, contact Richard Santos at registrations@sfwriters.org. For SFWC sponsorship opportunities, contact Carla King at Carla@carlaking.com
The SFWC website is: www.SFWriters.org

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