78 REASONS WHY YOUR BOOK MAY NEVER BE PUBLISHED AND 14 REASONS WHY IT JUST MIGHT
Pat Walsh, . . Penguin, $13 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-14-303565-7
Walsh mercilessly presents the cold, hard facts about why authors don't get published: " You think too highly of yourself," "You missed your first-chance glance" and "You scare away agents," along with 75 other dispiriting reasons. This tough-love approach aims to enlighten writers committed to their craft and discourage those who are all talk and no work. A founding editor of the literary publisher MacAdam/Cage, Walsh has spent a good deal of time reading lousy submissions, and he points out some common errors made by novices. His advice can sound more like an editor's exasperation (say, with writers who can't take criticism) than helpful tips. Walsh also describes the bottom-line world of publishing, which, he says, views books as products rather than cherished works of art. He provides basic information about agents, auctions and promotion. What saves this manual from being hectoring is the author's humor and clear-eyed awareness of the difficulties involved in getting even an outstanding book published. On a more positive note, he recommends that rejected authors cultivate patience and flexibility (i.e., learning from mistakes). Many readers may simply skip to book's end to get to the scant good news.
Reviewed on: 03/21/2005