There is lots of writing going on this end and I have big news coming next week about some major travel and new projects. All, I will say is stay tuned to this local bat-channel 🙂 In the meantime, I thought I would review a book I read a couple of weeks ago. This book is aimed at writers or anyone who thinks they may write a book which these days seems to be everyone. Let me make a point about that first.
I remember the first day of class with my mentor at university. He started his spiel by saying his job was to make sure that most of the people sitting in that class were determined to find a different profession by the end of the semester. As he put it, “There are enough bad writers the way it is. The profession doesn’t need anymore. Go torture the world by being a lawyer or something and not with your writing.” Thankfully, I made the cut.
What he said is true though and even more so these days because with the ease of self-publishing – which is good and really the trend is a counter-action to the actions of traditional publishers – everyone is putting their book out. The problem is most of the books aren’t worth reading because the writing sucks. Writing is hard business and it takes skill to do it well. Just because you put your book out (sorry to break this to you) doesn’t mean you are a writer. Think of it this way, just because you play basketball on the playground doesn’t mean you’ll be trying out for the Bulls anytime soon.
Bearing that in mind, if you are going to write then you might consider reading What’s Your Book? by Brooke Warner. I’ve read her book, sat in a couple of her webnirs, and it is clear she knows her stuff. That isn’t always the case. There are so many ‘advice’ books out there for authors that aren’t based in practicality or reality it can be mind-numbing. The ones that goad me most are the ones by authors who made a name for themselves in another field or made it rich some other way and then they write a book about how well their books sold. They sold because they already had a following from making a name for themselves elsewhere. I call this the Snooki rule. A publisher got Snooki to write a book and then marketed it using her fame to propel sales onto the best-selling lists. Most people were probably shocked to learn Snooki could read let alone write. Thank god for ghost writers, right?
Brooke Warner’s book isn’t like that. The thing I like most about it is that she follows one of her own tenets: keep it simple. Simple is good! Be to the point and make sure your reader can follow you. There is nothing complicated about this book. Warner lays down simple things to do and don’t do which stem from her years as an editor. It talks about how important platforms are – go ask Snooki – and how to build them.
Another thing it does is delve into how to keep your story focused. She doesn’t tell you what the focus should be – if you don’t know then you REALLY shouldn’t be writing – but rather how to keep yourself on track and how to attract the attention of traditional publishers, editors, agents. She also dispels myths about getting an editor or agent. In short, she makes a writer aware of the business side of being a writer. My mentor would approve.
Without really stressing it, Warner also stresses what a toil writing can be. I laugh all the time online at ‘writers’ who tweet they have just pounded out 1000 words on their work in progress. They treat the word count like that is what is important. When they finish, hit their goal, they think they are done. I laugh because I know for real writers that is just the starting point. Listen up all you wannabe’s out there! The key to a good story is simple: rewrite, rewrite, rewrite and then rewrite some more.
Even if you have been writing for a while you will find this book useful. It is simple to the point and will keep you focused on basics of making your story one worth reading and then on how to get it out to the public and get it moving off the shelves. After all, if no one reads your story, what is the point?