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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable guide, occasionally too prescriptive
This authoritative guide, by an experienced literary agent, contains advice for would-be authors on how to get books published. This is good, nitty-gritty stuff, including what to include in a submission, how to present your work and how to write a synopsis. There is also much about the book trade, including an excellent section entitled "Does an agent need you?"...
Published on 23 Jan. 2006 by 100wordreviewer

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fourteen years out of date
This book was written so long ago (published in 1999) that much of its information is hopelessly dated. Amazon, which even back then was 'Earth's Biggest Bookstore' gets two mentions in 384 pages; Carole Blake informs us that books ordered from Amazon are shipped from America, and that Amazon has yet to make a profit. How times change.

She discusses...
Published 22 months ago by Lexi


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable guide, occasionally too prescriptive, 23 Jan. 2006
This authoritative guide, by an experienced literary agent, contains advice for would-be authors on how to get books published. This is good, nitty-gritty stuff, including what to include in a submission, how to present your work and how to write a synopsis. There is also much about the book trade, including an excellent section entitled "Does an agent need you?"
I'd give the book top marks except for the fact that the author is rather over-prescriptive. For example, she advocates very lengthy synopses, whereas many other agents prefer them shorter.
Summary: a fine book, but take a second opinion before sending off your precious manuscript.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fourteen years out of date, 21 May 2013
This book was written so long ago (published in 1999) that much of its information is hopelessly dated. Amazon, which even back then was 'Earth's Biggest Bookstore' gets two mentions in 384 pages; Carole Blake informs us that books ordered from Amazon are shipped from America, and that Amazon has yet to make a profit. How times change.

She discusses self-publishing without mentioning ebooks, which had barely been invented in 1999. Since traditional publishing moves at the speed of a sleepy snail, parts of the book dealing with royalties, the strange returns system and subsidiary rights are still useful. The information on publishers' contracts has dated, as they have recently become much more stringent; nor does it cover digital rights.

In my opinion, Carole Blake should update this book.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you are serious about writing, this is a must, 5 Mar. 2003
By 
Penny Harvey "penhar" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
OK - so she scared me just a little, and would probably render me speechless if I met her face to face, but Carole Blake has written an essential guide to what agents are looking for, as well as what a writer should be looking at, once they are accepted for publication. She makes no excuses for this text being directed solely at commercial fiction, nor does she sugar coat any of the facts about the difficulty any new author faces when trying to secure the services of either agent or publisher.
Much of the book is taken up with information regarding contracts, royalties and auctions - which, as I am not in the fortunate position of having had any work accepted for publication, I skimmed over.
The initial third of the book covers the nuts and bolts regarding presentation, approach and attitude of the author. It's direct, concise and honest and although it can be read as saying 'you have more chance of becoming immortal, than becoming published' I actually found it refreshing and stimulating.
She notes throughout that some 'selling power' from the author is helpful i.e. they're a 70 year old dyslexic; and if I intend to submit anything to her agency I will have to stop smoking - otherwise my mss is likely to be returned unread.
But if you are serious about your writing and want to become a published writer I would strongly suggest you read from Pitch to Publication. After all, once accepted, you can dip into it again to read up about the auctions, contracts and royalties.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Treat with caution, 4 Jun. 2010
By 
Emanon (London, England) - See all my reviews
This book is very detailed and Carole Blake is obviously very successful in her area. The book is not however the best book a writer can read to get published. The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook is more useful. The problem with this book is that it has a very negative tone and is very defensive. It puts you off. Ms Blake explains how a writer's day job can determine whether they get published. The quality of the writing doesn't seem to be the deciding factor, at least for her. Carole Blake is obviously very capable, but if she ever revises the book she should address the tone.
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56 of 65 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only 75-year-old single parent stock traders need apply, 25 July 2001
By A Customer
It's undoubtedly a very informative book, but readers should be clear that its sole target is commercial fiction, where you let marketability guide your writing from the word go. As such, I found it depressing in its affirmation of all about the conventional publishing game that makes unpublished authors despair. Go back a space if you're a dentist or a civil engineer: not glamorous or exciting enough. Go back 3 spaces if you have just one novel, however brilliant; publishers are only interested if you show promise of being a cash-cow. Go back 5 spaces if you smoke: Carole Blake will be offended by the smell of your manuscript. Go forward 2 spaces if you have a marketing angle like being 17 or 75, or a single mother, or a stock market trader. If you have the qualities that allow you to play this game, the book will be helpful. Otherwise its only message is that you may be unpublishable not because of what you write, but because of who you are.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Information but very defensive, 27 Feb. 2010
This book offers an informative view of the world of the agent as well as the interaction between the author, agent and publisher but ONLY if the reader can ignore the rather defensive position taken by Carole Blake when condoning the consistently bad behaviour perpetuated by agents towards new writers. Ms Blake tries very hard to explain why agents take so long to read submissions, why some agents don't even bother, and why so few writers get a decent (or any) evaluation of their product. Most agents demand that writers make unique submissions to one agent at a time, and then wait eight weeks before making a subsequent submission to another agent. This is an obviously one-way process made possible by the seemingly endless number of new writers. Bearing in mind the eventual symbiosis that should exist between the agent and the writer as a client, this uncompromising approach is probably the single most common cause of frustration. The new writer knows that each rejection passes in eight week periods and that a whole year could elapse in the time it took seven agents to reject their submission. Ms Blake produces a defensive apologia of this rather less than attractive introduction to agent practice before movning on to a very detailed description of the publishing process and explaining why all new writers should have an agent. The irony of this Catch-22 situation seems to be lost on her. The detailed information about contracts and later stages of the publishing process is very informative. However, considering the very small number of writers who manage to attract an agent, let alone a publishing contract, this information is likely to be of only academic interest to most readers. This book was printed before the wholesale use of email for communication but little has changed. Most agents will still only accept printed submissions by post. Despite advanced and extensive automated email systems, most agents still do not acknowledge submissions. Perhaps a later edition of this book will address these issues while publishing is dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century wrestling with the major issue of online book distribution.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good advice but needs updating, 15 July 2012
This is a useful book in many ways. It sets out a lot of the basics for new writers and the section on roles within a publishing house is interesting and helps to explain a lot of the seemingly random decisions these can take.
It is geared towards commercial writing, understandably as this is Ms Blake's area of operations, and as such can help guide the newcomer through the difficulties ahead.

It is dated, having been first published in 1999. There is little to help the writer faced with the range of options now available and anyone considering publication through e-books is wasting their money on this volume. It is also a bit patronising in places assuming all new or unpublished writers are unable to work out that revision and editing are quite important, for example.

Despite that I have found it useful and would recommend it though I hope a revised and updated version is on the way.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book of its kind in English, 27 Sept. 2000
By A Customer
This book is probably the best single volume for the intending author who feels the need to understand the UK book trade and the process by which a book is brought to print. It covers all the major areas (researching the market, preparing the manuscript, approaching an agent, signing a contract, negotiating the editing process, verifying earnings, protecting rights) and contains accurate descriptions of how publishers, literary agents and booksellers work, gleaned from the author's considerable experience in the trade as a well-regarded literary agent. It is particularly strong on the areas in which the author has most direct experience: this is the book to read if you have no idea what a literary agent does, or if you were labouring under the misapprehension that a publisher's contract is a simple document. The author speaks with authority on all these issues: a good example of this is the discussion of vanity and 'collaborative' publishing ventures, in the course of which she predicts the collapse of Citron Press, the 'alternative' publishing house, well before its actual demise. Necessarily, the material dealing with royalties and rights is rather dry, but the level of detail gives great insight into how an author actually earns his or her money, and the various sections are well illustrated with examples and anecdotes drawn from the author's working life.
As the author is careful to state, this is a no-nonsense, feet-on-the-floor guide which assumes that the reader is prepared to give up any romantic illusions about the book industry. It is not an instructional manual in how to write a book: in fact the subtext throughout is that talent, hard work and perseverance are the writer's business. The ideal reader would be someone who intends to make a career writing commercial fiction, and who needs a thorough grounding in the professional practices of the trade. The author is careful to point ouit that this is the area of her expertise, and that conditions in other sectors of the market may differ somewhat. Would-be literary novelists will still find most of the book relevant, but may have to grit their teeth occasionally: at one point the author describes how an author changes the ending of her latest novel (from grandma dies to grandma lives) to please an overseas market, with no implication that there is any artistic reason for preferring either ending.
Otherwise, well worth your money. Perhaps no 'how-to' book is truly essential, but this and the 'Writers Handbook' are the ones that come closest.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Information - Excellent Resource for Writers, 20 Feb. 2006
Written by a leading literary agent this book is a valuable source of information.
This book covers everything which a writer should know before they submit their work to an agent – Carole Blake lays it down as it is – agents are busy people, they have stacks of submissions to go through – make sure yours is the best it can be, make sure you comply with agent guidelines etc etc.
But this book also goes further than providing general information on submissions to agents; it provides writers with information on publishing contracts, rights, publicity, royalties and more. The book covers everything that aspiring authors should want to know about having their book published.
The occasional personal story adds even more interest to this book, including snippets of letters of correspondence that Carole Blake has received as an agent, some of which are humours and others make you shake your head at the nerve of some people (but then again writers need nerve right?)
Everything is covered in this book and I found the money aspects particularly interesting. There are a lot of articles in newspapers and magazines about huge author advances but this book shows more of the real story – it provides information on what many authors can expect – and it’s not an advance which is big enough to buy a large house in the country.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The author tells it as it is, 23 April 2013
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This book does not hold back, the author tells it as it is. All writers want to be published, and by a reputable publisher. This is often only possible via an agent, and one with a positive and professional reputation. How pleasant it would be for every submission to be received with open arms and gushes of, 'wonderful', 'this will do well', when in truth, the majority of submissions fall short of the required guidelines and is neither wonderful and has no chance of doing anything, let alone well.

It is easy to get pulled along in the moment of excitement - when your book is finally finished (or so you believe) and then it is sent, lovingly wrapped in layers of bubble wrap to protect it on its journey which the writer prays is its last and is followed by a contract in the next post. The book you have nurtured over perhaps years is now on its own, out in the big bad world and knocking on an agent's door - and finds it is not alone. Imagine that agent picking up the manuscripts, by the armful before sitting back to read. A reasonable introduction letter and synopsis is the first chance you get to dip a toe into an agent's world. If the manuscript is presented on clean paper (without whiffs and spills) it is more likely to be read and hopefully, enjoyed.

Some comments about the book suggest it is harsh in places. Maybe so, but it is an honest view. As a writer, I would rather an honest opinion and guidance rather than a load of waffle and no hope. Carole Blake covers wider areas than the submission...the all important contract and legal stuff too.

If you are looking for a book written by someone who has successfully been in the trade for many years, and who knows what is required - then this is such a book. Much of what is written in it would apply to many other agencies too. I found it helpful.
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