Secret Library Podcast


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#105 Scott Carney + Harmon Leon + Ted Rall

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Sometimes you just have to dive into an idea and get it done. 

A little over a year ago, many of you will remember that Scott Carney came on the show to talk about his book What Doesn't Kill Us. Toward the end of that conversation, he dropped a little bit of knowledge that made a light go on in my brain. "If you write 500 words a day 5 days a week, in a year you'll have a book." Boom. When Barry was editing the episode, he mentioned how bummed he was that we hadn't gotten to continue that part of the conversation a lot longer. This, my friends, is that moment expanded into a full episode.

Scott has recently created a course called The Fine Print, that's much in the same vein. He let me have a sneak peek and we had a long chat about my favorite tips and guidance that he shares. What I loved is that we cover really practical things like how to promote your book whether or not you have a traditional publishing publicity team supporting you, the ins and outs of contracts and going from a magazine article to a book to an ongoing project that can live at the center of a writing business. There's a nice discount code in the episode for anyone who wants to check out the course.

In addition, I spoke with Harmon Leon + Ted Rall about their book, Meet the Deplorables, which had Harmon Leon embedding in fringe communities leading up to the Trump election. We spoke about his interest in extremist communities and how he has built his own career around gonzo-style journalism, an interesting case study based on what Scott and I discussed in part one. Ted Rall joins as well to talk about his contribution of political cartoons and how he worked to expand and bring the material to life in his work.

This week promises to be an epic listen, especially for those writing nonfiction, so enjoy!


Discussed in Episode 105 with Scott Carney:

  • “If we don’t have money, we don’t put food on the table and we wind up in PR.”

    On writers also having to be businesspeople. 

  • “It’s not a get rich quick scheme…you’re gonna work your ass off.”

    On his course and learning how to survive as a writer. 

  • Beginning of his career wound up doing restaurant writing - something he had no passion for. 

  • “The stuff you have written becomes your resume.”

    On how your career trajectory can take off without your knowing it. 

  • “Then all of a sudden you gain momentum, instead of playing catch-up.”

    On directing your career and making long-term writing choices. 

  • “Is this a story and not a topic?”

    On taking measure of your ideas. 

  • “To some degree, every book I write, I hate.”

    On the struggle of spending the long hours with a project. 

  • “What about the story makes us human?”

    On what he’s ultimately looking for in all of his work. 

  • “You could write the best book in the world but if no one reads it, it doesn’t matter.”

    On the need to be a businessperson as well as an author. 

  • “You have to be a pitch shark.”

    On selling yourself to media outlets for the book launch. 

  • “Your PR campaign starts at least six months out.”

    On using the lag time between final manuscript and publication. 

  • “It’s worth something because you put your energy and your love and your creativity into it.”

    On valuing your work. 

  • 25% off code in the episode


Discussed in Episode 105 with Harmon Leon:

  • Leon’s seventh book. Tends to write about fringe groups. 

  • “The more extreme and the more opposite the subgroups are, the more intriguing it is.”

    On spending time with groups he’s not ideologically aligned with. 


Discussed in Episode 105 with Ted Rall:

  • “The art has to follow the writing.”

    On the process of illustrating this book. 

  • He worked off a close-to-final manuscript. 

  • “I was hoping that between the two of us there would be a really full picture.”

    On how his artwork could support the writing. 

  • “I think cartoons work best when they’re personal.”

    On where his artwork fits into the overall story. 

This episode sponsored by Listeners like you via the Secret Library Podcast Patreon