A Frequently Recommended Book,
This review is from: The First Five Pages: a Writer's Guide for Staying out of the Rejection Pile (A Fireside book) (Paperback)
I have never written a book for publication. Well - that is not quite true. I wrote one once long ago that was immature and frankly boring, and was rightly rejected once and I never tried again! Since then I have not found time to produce a better effort.
With all that out in the open, I can say I am reviewing this book as an interested reader rather than a (currently) aspiring writer. Although had I read this book back in the day I wrote my one manuscript, I would have produced something very different.
To be clear, this book is not a manual on how to write a book. The author's advice there is really just to get on and write! But this book focuses on how to get your book noticed and thus published. For this purpose I can think of no better book.
Speaking with the experience of having been an editor and then an agent, the author brings real world experience of what it is like to work through a large pile of manuscripts, and the tricks of the trade that are used to whittle that list down to something manageable. His advice is that a book must grab the reader in the first five pages, and avoid some key and common stylistic errors in order to get noticed. (Other tricks on piquing an editor's interest are included too).
Some will consider this advice and say "well that just means that good stories are getting rejected without being read". And the answer there is presumably: "yes, they are. But follow this advice and yours won't be one of them".
For an aspiring writer this, I think, is a must read. I have, in fact, recommended it to several people who have told me they wish they could get books published, and I will keep recommending it unless and until I find something better. But I am not holding my breath.