cover image The Practical Writer: From Inspiration to Publication

The Practical Writer: From Inspiration to Publication

Therese Eiben, Editor, Mary Gannon, Editor, Staff of Poets & Writers Magazine, With Penguin Books $15 (384p) ISBN 978-0-14-200400-5

To the already bulging category of how-to books geared to the art and craft of writing, add this handy compendium from the crew at Poets & Writers. Conveniently divided into five easy-to-flip-to sections, this encouraging tome is intended to be a guide to all writers--essayists, poets, novelists and short-story writers--at various (early) stages in their careers. Those fresh out of MFA programs will appreciate considerations of craft by the likes of Gregory Orr and Jeffrey Skinner; in the same section, Julie Checkoway's sly""Lingerie Theory of Narration"" likens a writer's agenda to that of a Victoria's Secret catalogue adman. Aspiring writers eager to see their work in print may jump ahead to section two (""Initial Contact""), wherein Amy Holman offers advice on preparing submissions and Atlantic Monthly senior editor C. Michael Curtis explains how to read--or rather, how not to read into--the inevitable rejection letters. In section three (""Building Your Team""), agent Noah Lukeman, writer-cum-editor-cum-agent Betsy Lerner, Authors Guild assistant director Kay Murray and others share insights about finding an agent and negotiating that first book deal. The newly published are apt to appreciate""Meeting the Public,"" the fourth section, which suggests how to drum up publicity for small press titles and wow bookstore audiences with memorable readings. And finally, those with sights beyond publishing a novel can turn to""Jobs in the Field,"" and learn how to start a reading series or literary magazine, or simply reflect, as Robert Phillips does in the afterword, on why the journey has been worth it. Subscribers to the magazine will find much of the material familiar, as will anyone who's read a writing how-to or two. But with appendices on grants, awards, conferences and residencies similar to the listings section in the magazine, the book proves itself both inspirational and useful.