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The New Writer's Handbook 2008: 12/10/08

I'm an aspiring writer. I've been writing fiction for my own entertainment for most of my life. I would like to some day see my work published. Every so often I read through the current advice books to would-be writers. So when I was offered a chance to review The New Writer's Handbook I jumped at it.

According to the back of the book: "This essential collection of readings, the second in a new series, refreshes and upgrades any writer's skills with hands-on advice on literary craft and career development. It features over 60 useful articles ... ideal for fiction and nonfiction writers of all levels seeking professional advancement. " Sounds good, doesn't it? The "advice " is actually sixty or so two or three page thoughts on writing from various people in the industry (authors, editors, and so forth). The essays focus more on pep talks than on practical advice or "hands-on " exercises.

I realize that the publishing industry is in flux. I wasn't expecting a step by step recipe but I was hoping for something more concrete. There are a few useful tips near the end of the book about building a blog with a personal brand, how to create a good business card and other marketing things. This advice comes too late.

Probably the best sources of advice come in the profiles at the end of each essay. These profiles contain the links to blogs. The piece, "Starting " by Lois Lowry (p 218-21) is cobbled together from three blog posts. I am a subscriber to her blog and what is presented here in the book is almost unrecognizable. She tends to write long posts full of advice, enthusiasm and heart. The heart is there in "Starting " but it's presented incoherently.

If you need a pep talk to get your writing started, see if your local library has a copy. If you want a book to add to your personal library, get a copy of On Writing by Stephen King instead.

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Comment #1: Thursday, December, 11, 2008 at 15:56:49


A book that I found really good too, a few years ago, was "How to Get Happily Published," by Judith Appelbaum. I see she's got a webiste now too, which I didn't realize, and will now frequent. That book, though, was the best of any I'd read.

For non-fiction, the absolute best book I've ever read (and am now following in detail as I try to get my own non-fiction book published) is "The Art of the Book Proposal," by Eric Maisel. He teaches how to write the book and how to prepare a proposal, pretty much simulaneously. So on the non-fiction side, I recommend that one to everybody who'll listen."

Comment #2: Thursday December 11, 2008 at 15:33:34


Thank you for the recommendations. I will add them to my wishlist.

Comment #3: Thursday, December, 11, 2008 at 16:24:04

Deden Luo

nice blog i enjoy reading your blog. i will back for more.


Comment #4: Thursday December 11, 2008 at 15:34:40


Thank you.

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