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How Not to Write a Novel: Confessions of a Mid-list Author [Paperback]

David Armstrong
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jun 2003
Reading a self-help book for would be authors can give you the impression that becoming an author is a simple and lucrative process. But for the vast majority of published authors the bestseller lists are something to dream about and writing is not their main source of income. David Armstrong is a typical mid-list author: his books are well received but have failed to make a commercial breakthrough, his work sells solidly but unspectacularly, he's well known within the writing community but the majority of book buyers, will never have heard his name. And it is from this position that he has produced an antidote to the vast number of overly optimistic writers' guides. How Not to Write a Novel is a comprehensive guide to becoming a published author. Subjects covered range from agents to vanity publishing, the slush pile to prizes and contracts to marketing. Brutally honest and thoroughly refreshing - finally a writers' guide that tells it like it really is!

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Allison & Busby (1 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749006803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749006808
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 15.5 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 942,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Comes a point in the career of any aspiring novelist--when you find yourself in the second decade of revising your opus, for instance--that you may wonder why you ever bothered. This how-not-to by British novelist David Armstrong (Night's Black Agents) will either give you the strength to soldier on or inspire you to get out the lighter fluid and torch your manuscript before evil publishing types get the chance. Every chapter--on agents, advances, discipline and all the other joyful components of the writing biz--offers useful anecdotes and advice and ends with a cheerful list of tips (number one is usually "Don't do it!"): "Especially when you are young, do as wide a variety of jobs as you can. They'll often be low paid and involve long hours and tedium. Perfect for fostering the writing spirit."---The Washington Post

About the Author

David Armstrong was born in Birmingham and now lives in Shropshire. He left secondary school without qualifications but later went on to read English at university in Cardiff. His first novel was short-listed for the Crime Writers' Association Best First Crime Novel and since then his work has continued to receive critical acclaim.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The list of books rejected by publishers is one of the few things in a writer's life to give him real joy. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling it like it is! 22 Aug 2003
Well done, David! Finally a book that empathised with everything I have been going through! The title should not have been How Not To Write a Novel, but something like, I'm a Writer, Get Me Out Of Here! As a writer myself, desperately trying to get that novel accepted, despite having had previous works published, it explained and explored all the emotions and thoughts you go through as a writer. The chapter entitled The Joy Of It All, absolutely was perfect! Readers of the book will understand. Why aren't there more honest books like this one?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and funny 18 Jun 2003
David Armstrong tells it like it is in this excellent guide to the current world of writing. All the let-downs and frustrations that follow hot on the heels of getting into print: the toe-curling forays into bookshops hoping you'll be on the shelf, the pathetic advances, the Catch 22 of getting no publicity or marketing until you sell enough copies (and not selling enough because no-one's heard of the thing - and it's not in the shops), the slush pile, the reviews, the dream of a breakthrough book. This should be compulsory reading for anyone wanting to get published. I read it in one sitting and, as a fellow mid-list writer, when I wasn't laughing I was groaning in recognition. The book debunks plenty of myths and will challenge your lovely pipe dreams but it will also help explain how the whole world of publishing works(or doesn't).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read! 12 Jun 2003
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read the whole of it in one evening. It is funny, informative, well written and is full of the sort of information that anyone who has ever thought of writing a novel should know! David Armstrong's honesty and obvious passion for his craft make this a wonderful read. You wil learn more about the pitfalls and high points of a career in writing by reading this book than you will reading any of the other "how to write a novel" books on the shelf. Buy it at once!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what it seems 7 Jan 2004
I was intrigued by the title of this book whilst browsing in a local book shop. I flicked through a few pages and enjoyed picking out literary insights, statistics and gossip regarding the world of a mid-list novelist and his attempts to break through into the big time. I thought the book would serve as an antedote to the many How To...books that occupied the same shelf in the book shop, so I decided to give it a whirl. All in all, I enjoyed the read. I found it entertaining and informative. If one looks closely, there are nuggets of advice that every would be novelist would find useful. I know I did. The book doesn't quite live up to it's title, which suggests an instructive slant, though the 'confessions of a midlist author' appendage slyly gives the game away. As a How To or How Not To,it doesn't offer enough. As a meandering muse that reflects a compilation of the author's thoughts, experiences and insights into the world of subsistence writing, it deserves four stars. As it stands, and for what it promises yet doesn't quite deliver, it is a worthy three stars. Note that five stars should be reserved for a true masterpiece, so take such accreditations with a pinch of salt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A book that claims to be the antidote to How to... books. In fact it is really a memoir of the author who has published four novels and achieved, by his own measure, mediocre success. As a quick and slightly humourous read it is worth five out of ten. The author comes across as conceited, dressing up his anger and arrogance in fake modesty and self-deprecation. Reviews on Amazon warned me of the continous plugging of his other titles and I was ready to buy one half way through this short book. Then I started to develop a certain dislike for the author. He makes some good points worth remembering but goes on to describe obvious mistakes he has made and still seems unconscious of. Amazon reviews of his novels are sparse. Ironically this title, which shows his various inadequacies, will probably be Armstrong's best seller.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all that it seems... 27 Aug 2003
By A Customer
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book. I found David Armstrong to be amusing, frank and honest. However, I couldn't help but think that within this book was an ulterior motive - I got annoyed by his constant references to his own work. Granted, it's his book and he's got every right to up his own publicity but I felt that it distracted me from enjoying the book especially as I am not a fan of crime fiction. It was helpful but to be honest it didn't really tell me an awful lot that I didn't already know. I did however particularly agree with his recurring advice of 'don't do it' with regards to trying to be a published author. This was the only instance though when I didn't find the repetition in the book annoying - and there's an editor to blame for that...
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