Despite the long title (which to some publishers might be considered a no-no!), Pat Walsh’s enlightening book is a must-read for any writer in search of publication. Filled with, well, 78 reasons why your book may never be published, as well as an additional 14 reasons why it might, this book provides plenty of insight into the wild, wacky and often wonderful world of publishing.
Walsh knows all about that world, too, as founding editor of MacAdam/Cage, an independent publisher of fiction and nonfiction. This inside look into the mechanics of the industry is priceless for writers whom often live their entire lives, and careers, on the outside, pressing their noses against the glass and hoping for a glimpse of how they, too, can become a “real” author. Real, as in, published. Walsh covers a variety of topics writers should be aware of, including use of or lack of use of correct grammar (count how many times I am guilty of this in my review – hey, it’s my “style!”), the love of language, the ability to construct and tell a story, revising and revising and revising, avoiding preachy writing, the inability to take criticism wisely, and dozens of other areas writers often think they can either ignore, deny or gloss over in their quest to become a published author worthy of a six-figure advance.
Other sections of the book delve into the publishing game itself, deconstructing how publishing works so that writers can get a better sense of their role in the process and how they can make or break it in a world that is, to put it mildly, quite foreign to the average Joe or Jane sitting at a computer writing a sci fi thriller into the wee hours of the night. I think I just broke a rule with that overlong sentence! Walsh also gives some very straight-forward advice about self-publishing, book doctors, writer’s conferences, and working with agents.
Although the author himself often breaks his own rules (by trying to be funny and becoming a bit grating on occasion), he usually does so to prove his point, which is that most writers set themselves up for disaster and heartache the second they begin trying to push a manuscript that is less than perfect. This book is filled with valuable tools and insider wisdom, but only to the writer who is honest enough to accept it and put it to the test where it counts. It’ s so easy for writers to say, “Yeah, that stuff is great, but I don’t need to worry about it…I’m perfect.” The writer who reads this book and actually makes use of it will jump way ahead of the pack, to say the least.
My favorite of the 78 reasons why a book may never be published, though, is the first one the author talks about. I won’t give the secret away, but rest assured it is the number one, hands-down reason why books don’t get published, and could save any writer a lot of time, suffering, grief, money, despair and even sanity. Once that reason is taken care of, the rest falls naturally into place!