Possibly the best book on
publishing an author can pick
At initial glance, Pat Walsh's "78 Reasons why your book may never be published & 14 Reasons why it just might" may seem a bit off-putting. After all, when visiting the writing and publishing section of most bookstores, the searching author is inundated with positivity and promises: "Write a Novel in One Month!", "How to Get an Agent Today!", "Sell your Screenplay Now!"... Not to mention hordes of gimmicky 'toolkits', card sets, and philosophical fluff.
"78 Reasons" (we'll shorten the title a bit) is not any of those. In humorous and pointed terms, Walsh, a veteran of the publishing industry, lays out the many mistakes and misconceptions that repeatedly pulse through the writers' world, pointing out with each why they could keep you from getting your work published. Right from the get go, he clarifies that this book will do little good to help an author who does not have a completed work (though I would argue it certainly gives anyone making excuses about finishing their project a good wake up call and dose of realistic expectations). While he does give extensive advice concerning revisions, this is not a book to help you write a novel. It's purely about getting that novel into the commercial world.
With the precision of a Samurai and the wit of an honest cynic, Walsh attacks egos (#5, "You Think you are a Natural"), agendas (#11, "You Preach), softies (#16, "You do not Kill your Little Darlings"), and the gilded sludge pit that is self-publishing (an entire chapter is dedicated to understanding the many pitfalls and specific virtues of this "other" publishing industry, an entity great for local-specific content but a bane to authors seeking professional exposure). He tackles it all with a charm and forthrightness that makes every difficult revelation palatable.
While it initially sounds depressing, "78 Reasons" really boils down to one solid trait every author needs: learning how to keep high hopes and realistic expectations. By learning why your manuscript ended up in the "Slush Pile" or understanding what an agent really does to act as an author's advocate, the reader comes away with a more solid knowledge of the publishing industry (at least what writers need to know about it) than they would get from any of the guarantee-touting tomes declaring surefire ways to land your baby in the bestseller stand.
If you only read one book about writing and publishing, this is the one. Here in Denver, both Barnes and Noble and Borders tend to no longer keep this paperback in stock. You can either order it from either of their websites, from Amazon.com, or go through a local store like The Tattered Cover. After you read it, put in a request for local stores to keep this one in stock. For Kindle users, it is also available in E-Book form.