cover image The Byline Bible: Get Published in 5 Weeks

The Byline Bible: Get Published in 5 Weeks

Susan Shapiro. Writer’s Digest, $17.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-44035-368-0

In clear, energetic, and forthright language, writer and teacher Shapiro (Only as Good as Your Word) provides a nuts-and-bolts guide to getting a piece of nonfiction writing published, whether in print or online. She focuses on producing short, confessional essays, which she proclaims are the “best way to break into publishing,” though she also includes advice on op-ed and humor pieces, among others. There are no shortcuts, however, despite the gimmicky subtitle. Shapiro constantly reminds her readers to do their homework and thoroughly read up on the genre they’re trying to break into, and the publications they’re planning on approaching. She emphasizes timeliness and originality in choosing subject matter, the importance of feedback and revising when writing, and openness to learning from rejection while approaching editors and publishers. Succinct lists throughout of dos and don’ts (“Don’t arrogantly tell the editor that his readers will surely love your brilliant piece”) will help the potential scribe keep all of Shapiro’s points in order and to hand. Her book is not a full substitute for taking a writing class and learning with a pro, but her insights are excellent starting points for beginners and good reminders for veterans. (Aug.)