I recently purchased the Humble Write Like a Writer Book Bundle (Still on-sale for a couple more days as I write this). Since one of the things I’m trying to do is spend less idle time on the Internet (See this for a brief explanation), I figure writing up reviews of some of these books while I’m on the computer is as good a use of my time as any. I may go back and review some of the other self-improvement books I’ve read lately.
In any event, the first book I read in this bundle was Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need To Get Published Now by Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark, who are BookPage’s Author Enablers. The e-book edition of the book, which I read, was published in September of 2012, and the original book is copyright 2010 (Note the foreword from Maya Angelou, who passed away in 2014).
Write That Book Already! is an accurate title, but it doesn’t fully do the book justice. Yes, the book does tell you to, well, write that book already, and it makes the point that the only way to do that is to sit down and write the book (Or short story, or whatever). But it also takes you through the full publishing process–it distinguishes fiction from non-fiction in terms of how you pitch your book (Short version: Non-fiction tends to be more relaxed in terms of submitting concepts for books you haven’t actually written yet). It also discusses how to find an agent, how to find a publisher, and what the publishing process actually is. Throughout the book, the authors provide humorous examples, some fictitious just to show the process and what to do or not to do, some real. one example is handling a call from an agent who wants to represent your book. There are also peeks into the lives and jobs of some of those agents, publishers, etc. involved in the process of making the book. It even goes into how to help your publisher promote your book (Though while the authors acknowledge the rapidly changing internet landscape, there is nonetheless, an of-its-time reference or two–at least one reference to Myspace, for instance).
Of course, not everyone goes the “Get a publisher” route anymore, and the book details self-publishing as well, how to go about it, and the difference between self-publishing (Technically, setting up your own publishing company) and vanity publishing. It also notes when each may be appropriate (There’s nothing wrong with using a vanity press to print up a book about your family history and give it to family members, for instance).
The book’s first appendix is a useful source of further reading both in terms of books about writing, and of books to draw more general inspiration from. Authors like Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Dave Barry, among others, give some picks in each of these categories, including some I’ll likely check out once I run out of Humble Bundle books to read.
The advice is focused around writing a longer-form book, as opposed to a novella or short story, although there is one example of an author who had more success pitching their short story collection once they turned it into an actual *collection* with a common theme, as opposed to just “Whatever short stories they had laying around”.
That said, the advice of “Just freaking write already; nothing else happens until you do that!” is universal to all authors, or really any creative types like artists, musicians, game developers, etc. Ideas are great, but they’re also useless if you don’t get them onto paper/canvas/code/whatever. In short, I recommend this book. It’s a pretty quick read, around 200 pages plus appendices, and it sprinkles enough humor in throughout to be engaging.