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78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why Itjust Might [Paperback]

Pat Walsh
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 14.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (1 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143035657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143035657
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 14.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,167,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Writer's best book on writing 20 Jan 2012
If you are a writer, a serious writer, perhaps you are completing an early draft, this is the book you need to help you polish it. Out of all the writer's 'help' books there are plenty that motivate and point out various plot techniques, talk about character development and so forth but Pat Walsh's book is much more detailed so that when it comes to editing, you can actually apply it to every word you have written. I am a writer and editor and this is the book I keep to hand when going over a draft/treatment. Just wish it was available on Kindle too.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Long on humor & realism; short on practical advice 2 Jan 2006
By Tim Warneka - Published on Amazon.com
I'm not big on long reviews, but this book definitely caught my attention. So here goes...

I feel pretty mixed about this book. On the one hand, Walsh offers a seemingly realistic view of the publishing field. On the other, as a "how to" book, Walsh falls far short on the giving advice beyond the surface level, something I was looking for from the founding editor of an independent publisher.

On the plus side, I found Walsh's book to be witty, funny and matching my experience with the publishing world -- that getting published involves "...an unholy amount of work and a great deal of time." I appreciate his focus on writing well and completing your book (I've read some book proposals recently that were absolutely horrendous).

My take-aways from this book included:

1. Finish your book.

2. Write well.

3. Don't self-publish

4. Stay out of the slush pile.

5. If you don't have an agent, forgeddabouhdit.

While I agree with the first two points, I found myself less willing to take Walsh's word on the last 3...

On the negative side, Walsh seems to miss following his own logic.

1. Early on in the book, he tells a story of a misguided young woman he met who (erroneously, Walsh seems to think) believes that getting published is more about who you know, and then proceeds to make that exact argument throughout the rest of his book (that is, if you don't know an agent, you'll never get published.)

2. The ONLY writer who can acceptably write anything along the lines of "I was too lazy to look this up" is Dave Barry, who is writing for laughs. Walsh uses this phrase several times throughout his book, which I find inexcusable. Walsh seemed to be attempting to come across as personable here, but he failed. If you're too lazy, don't write.

3. In discussing both the self-publishing industry, Walsh give it short shrift and did not seem to do his homework here, either. Equating self-publishing with vanity publishing is an overgeneralization, and ignores the excellent work of Dan Poynter (author of "The Self-Publishing Manual") and Tom and Marilyn Ross (authors of "The Complete Guide to Self Publishing").

4. Walsh makes the same mistake with those people who are disguntled with the publishing world. Since, as Walsh says, "..it is in the publishing's industry's best interest to reject you, discourage you and ignore you.", then it does not follow that people who critique the publishing world are engaging in "counterattacks" or are "paranoid". Perhaps some of those authors who cannot get published (such as Paul Linden, of Columbus, OH, who's writings on bodymind topics are lightyear ahead of his time)hold valid critiques of the publishing industry.

5. Walsh must go to public libraries and bookstores that stock very different materials from the ones that I go to. Walsh contends that most of today's published material is excellent. I find that many of the books that I read from these sources are (in Walsh's words) "overpriced, overhyped crap".

6. Walsh's advice for finding an agent (without which, he says, your book will go unpublished) seems to be opening up an independent publishing group, and wait for an agent to approach YOU. Ingenious? Yes. Practical for the rest of us? Hardly.

7. Finally, I thought that Walsh's book could do with one more run through by his editor. Some of his sentences came across as unclear. I'd caution about technical jargon, too. (Just what IS a "purple sentence", anyway?)

Pat Walsh's should be praised for wanting to write a book that describes an editor's experience. Such a book would be an important contribution to the field of writing.

This book, however, is not it.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comparing five books about writing book proposals 7 April 2007
By Thomas D. Kehoe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought five books to help me write a book proposal:

"How to Write a Book Proposal, 3rd edition," by Michael Larsen

"78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might," by Pat Walsh

"The Forest for the Trees," by Betsy Lerner

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published, 4th edition," by Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander

"Think Like Your Editor," by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunado

The worst was "How to Write a Book Proposal." This book felt like a bad date, like I wanted to wash my hair after reading it. The intent is to teach you to be an "Authorpreneur (r)." Yes, Larsen has registered this word. You'll learn such gems as everyone has 250 friends, and each of them has 250 friends, so you can "spread the word" about your book to more than 62,000 people by e-mail. I think there's a word for that -- spam. Larsen also says to include your promotion plan in the book proposal, including pushing "the paperback edition as hard as you can" when it's published a year after the hardcover edition. I'm not an agent or editor, but I'd think that an agent would giggle quietly to themselves if you were so presumptuous as to include a marketing plan for the paperback edition. (To the author's credit, he doesn't say you should suggest which actor should play the main character in the movie version of your book.) Then there's the chapter about including illustrations and cover art. Excuse me, I thought the editor and art director develop the cover art? I can't imagine creating the book cover to include in the proposal. And the author recommends including a "surprise," such as a baby shoe with a note saying "Now that I have a foot in the door." The book has one good piece of advice: pick a good title. For example, "How to Write a Book Proposal" is a title that will make 100,000 aspiring writers buy your book, regardless of how awful the book is.

"78 Reasons" was good. Some sections are wrong, such as #38 and #39, which correctly advises against paying for a vanity press to publish your book but confuses this with self-publishing. I've successfully self-published two books, and unsuccessfully self-published one book. The correct answer is that if you have a niche book in a niche market you know well, self-publish. Self-publishing mass market books is a recipe for disaster. Some of the advice is excellent, such as #16, about "killing your little darlings" (a scene you think is brilliant, that you build the rest of the book around). While most of this book is sound advice to a novice writer, as an experienced writer I didn't learn anything new.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide" covers the entire process from thinking of an idea through book proposals, book contracts, publicity tours, etc. It's a good overview but each chapter is too short. You'll need to buy another book about book proposals, etc. I'm keeping my copy as a reference to turn to occasionally but it's not the last word.

"The Forest for the Trees" starts with six essays about writing, with topics such as alcoholism, self-promoting poets (starting with Walt Whitman), the childhood of famous writers, writers who are too successful too young, etc. These are interesting reading. The second half of the book is essays about publishing, starting with literary agents. One paragraph describes the plethora of surprise gifts writers include with their query letters. She's received baby shoes, presumably from readers of Larsen's book. She says: "Please resist the temptation to do any of these outlandish things...a simple, dignified letter with a clear statement of your intent and credentials will win more affirmative responses than any gimmick or hype." If you read Larsen's book, read Lerner's book as the antidote. The next essays are about dealing with rejection, the life of editors, what writers want from editors, how book covers are designed, book titles selected, etc. This book is descriptive, not proscriptive, so you'll learn how the world of books operates, if not be told how to write a book and get it published. I enjoyed the author's "voice" and I recommend this book.

The best book is "Thinking Like Your Editor." The first half of the book is about preparing your book proposal. Unlike the other four books, reading this book made me completely rewrite my book proposal. The author begins by emphasizing the three most important things about a book: audience, audience, and audience. Who is going to buy your book? Not who might be sort of interested in your book, but who will feel that he or she must read your book. I'd thought about this before, but reading Rabiner's book made me think lucidly about this. She then walks you through the elements that must be in a book proposal, such as your thesis, or what makes your message unique and new and challenging; why is now the time to publish this book; and why are you the person most qualified to write it. The second half of the book is about writing your book, including the importance of narrative tension in non-fiction writing, and of presenting a balanced "argument" to make your views more convincing. The other four books made me say, "uh-huh, uh-huh" and not do anything. Rabiner's book made me spend several days working on my proposal. (My 2003 paperback copy has the typos corrected.)
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank and Realistc Advice and Information About Writing 8 Oct 2005
By Timothy Kearney - Published on Amazon.com
There are a number of books about getting books published, and sometimes I think I won them all and have read them all. As a matter of fact, I sometimes wonder if I spent as much time writing as I do reading about writing, I'd be published by now. What I usually find is that I get one or two good tips from the writing books. I also find a good deal of contradictory advice. For example, one may say join a writing group and another will sing the praises of small groups. Some espouse keeping journals, others do not. Most will say that getting published is hard, but not impossible, especially for the person reading the book. Of course there are no stats available that say how many people who actually read these books are ever published.

One newer book that I have found informative and hopefully helpful is Pat Walsh's SEVENTY EIGHT REASONS WHY YOUR BOOK MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED AND FOURTEEN REASONS WHY IT JUST MIGHT. The author is the founder of an independent press and has come across very manuscript possible. He also tried his hand at fiction before beginning his career in publishing. While Walsh believes that writers have to have a story to tell and have to be true to the vision they have for their work, he knows that desire and talent are not enough. He mentions the importance of persevering, listening to good critical advice, not being blind as to the work's greatness or perceived greatness, and knowing the subject matter well. Much of what he says about writing can be found in other sources, but he says it in a serious but humorous manner that sounds intimidating but after thinking about it is just plain and practical truth. He is frank, but eh does have the best interest of writers at heart. I found his information about publishing most helpful. Writing may be an art, but getting a book published and getting the published book sold is a business and writers need to understand the business aspect of publishing.

On the back cover of they book, Betsy Larner, author of another great book about writing and publishing THE FOREST FOR THE TREES suggests buying copy of this book for every struggling writer. I think her advice is on target. SEVENTY EIGHT REASONS is an honest book about writing, but ultimately affirming. I don't know if it will discourage people who are not that serious about writing, but it will remind those who are serious how difficult writing a book that is publishable can be, and how much more difficult it will be to see the finished product on a bookstore shelf, but for me books that are honest about the challenges of writing make me more determined to complete my book and hopefully will help me complete a better finished product.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent advice. 10 Aug 2005
By Robert Beveridge - Published on Amazon.com
Pat Walsh, 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons It Just Might (Penguin, 2005)

There are a certain number of people on the planet who have the seemingly innate ability to cut through mountains of crap and get to the point. There are a certain number of people on the planet who also don't give a flying damn whether they're going to hurt your feelings or not. It is a rare, rare thing for these two traits-- one normally seen as positive and one negative-- to come together in a single human being. If it were, we'd have a lot more secretaries on the planet and a lot fewer CEOs.

Pat Walsh is one of the few, and 78 Reasons... is all the proof any human being should need of this. Walsh, an editor for MacAdam/Cage, started from the basic thesis that well over 90% of the manuscripts that land on his desk every year range from being not quite good enough to being complete messes, and set out to tell the world how to at least whip them into enough shape that he might have something to work with when writing your rejection letter.

The problem with this book is the same problem that plagues most any "how to write" book worth its salt: its likely audience will be swift to give a new scent to the definition of "preaching to the choir." I'm going to guess that most people who read this book and take it seriously will be those who are already doing (or not doing, as in the case of rainbow stationery and envelopes full of glitter... my god, to people really do that sort of thing?) at least half the things Walsh writes about. Those who actually embody all seventy-eight points of horror in one living, breathing, writing abomination are most likely already so convinced of their literary genius that they feel they don't need to read a book like this, because they know it all. Ah, the wonders of Murphy's Law.

This book should sit beside Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones on your bookshelf; Goldberg for what do do while still working on your manuscript, Walsh for what to do once you've actually got a manuscript in hand. ****
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please don't read #58 4 Mar 2006
By April Henry - Published on Amazon.com
Even after having published six books, I still like to read "how to" books. This one was interesting, coming as it does from an editor's perspective. He gives agents shorter shrift than I think I deserve. But one "tip" I absolutely do not agree with is the idea that you should send your writing to published writers for them to send to their agents. It says, "Clients who refer writers to their agents feel good about nurturing a new talent; if it works out, they have done the agent a favor." A. I'm not an agent, and don't want to be one. B. My agent has more than enough books coming her way. C. If I don't pass it along, I've turned a fan into someone who will hate me for life -and turn all his/her friends and family against me. D. He thinks my getting 25 some queries a month would be "not an overwhelming chore." Right. I barely have enough time to write my own stuff, let alone turn into some secret conduit for evaluating work and then passing it on to my agent.

It's okay if I meet you, like you, and ask to see something of yours. I have done this with people and passed material on to my agent. It's not okay to treat a writer like an agent or editor.

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