How did you become a writer? In college I was more interested in music and philosophy than writing. My dad, who was a songwriter, helped me get a writing job at Record World, a music trade magazine, during the summers. When I graduated with a degree in philosophy, there were no jobs for philosophers, so I went to work full-time at Record World and stayed for 11 years, most of them as editor.
Name your writing influences (teachers, writers, books, experiences, etc.) My ninth grade English teacher, Mr. Keith. Professor Dennis Baumwoll at Bucknell U. Getting hit with billy clubs during the 1968 riots in Paris. Besides the obvious canonic writers, there’s Ken Kesey, Jon Stewart, the Family Guy guy, Elmore Leonard, Jon Leonard, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Ventura, Harold Meyerson, David McGee, tons more.
When and where do you write? Early in the morning in a little room downstairs.
What writing tools do you favor? (computer, word processor, dictionary, thesaurus, apps, etc.) Computer. Definitely online Dictionary, Thesaurus, Bartlett’s and, in a pinch, rhyming dictionary.
What are you working on now? I’m writing once or twice a week for huffingtonpost and putting together a book of my essays, to be accompanied by illustrations. Also pieces for the small but mighty online mag The Bluegrass Special.
How do you assess the current state of book publishing? Terrible for authors. Unless you get very lucky, you need to have a “platform” to be seriously considered. Otherwise, self-publishing is a way to go if you are good at shameless self-promotion.
Do you foresee a time when you’ll bypass traditional publishers altogether? Absolutely. I’m in the midst of self-publishing a book right now, and preparing for shameless self-promotion. See above.
How has the Internet affected your writing process? It’s a blast to write something and have it available to readers instantaneously. It’s also wonderful to get comments – and corrections – and be able to improve on the original.
Do you ever have doubts about your writing ability? If so, how do you overcome them? I have almost nothing but doubts. I don’t overcome them, just press on.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? No. for many years I was a publisher and mostly wrote emails and memos, which had to be produced constantly. So I got used to some sort of writing every day.
What’s your advice to writers? Besides the clichés – e.g. “write!” – I’d say find a friend or acquaintance who knows writing to read your stuff and give you unvarnished critiques.
Michael Sigman is a writer, editor, publisher and media consultant, and the president of Major Songs, a music publishing company which owns the catalogues of his late father, the songwriter Carl Sigman -- whose songs include “Ebb Tide,” “It’s All In The Game,” “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story,” “What Now My Love,” “Arrivederci Roma” and hundreds more -- and several contemporary songwriters.
Sigman was the publisher and later also president and CEO of LA Weekly, the nation’s largest alternative newsweekly, from 1983-2002. During his tenure at the paper, he was also corporate publisher of LA Style Magazine, a successful monthly founded and published by LA Weekly from 1985-88 until it was sold to American Express. Sigman was also the founding publisher of OC Weekly, sister paper to LA Weekly, when it was launched in 1995.
Sigman also supervised LA Weekly Books, an imprint through St. Martin’s that published books by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jonathan Gold, Bruce Campbell, Diana Wagman and Eddie Little, among others.
Prior to joining LA Weekly, Sigman was a music journalist, and served as a reporter, then managing editor, then editor-in-chief of Record World Magazine, a leading music industry weekly, from 1972 to 1982.
Sigman’s writing appears weekly on huffingtonpost.com and has also been published in Record World, LA Weekly, the LA Times, OC Weekly, The District Weekly, LA Style, The Bluegrass Special and other newspapers, magazines and websites. He is also the author of a biography of his father. He’s currently working on a biopic of legendary music man John Hammond.
Michael Sigman graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude, with a BA in Philosophy, from Bucknell University in 1971.