I've written three books. And no, I'm not the next J.K. Rowling as my friends have optimistically suggested. Not yet anyway....
Maybe with Fay Weldon's help?
I loved 'Why Will No One Publish My Novel?' I read it at high speed, pausing only to linger on the 'Cosmic Statement' parts. The Cosmic Statement advice is incredibly helpful. For me, it is where to begin, what am I doing, WHY am I writing a book? Essential to know!
Whenever I've tried to write a synopsis, an essential part of making a submission to an agent or publisher, I've given up in despair. Then submitted a sort of half synopsis. My secret hope has always been that the intern who opens the email will be so riveted by the attached opening pages that she (usually a she according to Ms. Weldon) or he will want to read the whole of my book. Not a good plan, and why this is not a good plan is clearly and amusingly explained in 'Why Will No-One Publish My Novel?'
I haven't read a 'How to write book' before.... no comments please, however tempted you are....because I found joining online groups of writers really helpful. Also I prefer to read novels and history books in the precious time I have for reading. So what made me choose this one? A friend pointed out a review in his paper, and the book sounded more fun than the other writing manuals. And much less bossy.
I'm going to read 'Why Will No-One Publish My Novel' again, more carefully this time. It contains a great deal of good advice and I'm going to pay full attention to all of it. Although I still reserve the right to use exclamation marks, adverbs and adjectives. This may be unwise but there is so much grammar pedantry going on in the publishing world!!!!!! Sorry.
Reading this book is like having a private tutorial with Fay Weldon. She tells us important home truths about writing and getting published, while at the same time pulling her punches... probably so as not to discourage the inexperienced writer. One of the reasons why this book should be respected is that Weldon has 'been there and done that' in the world of publishing. In other words, in the pre-creative-writing workshop era, she learned her craft by 'doing,' but also by failing. And, by failing, she learned to improve and succeed. As someone who runs a creative-writing workshop in which so many young writers expect to be overnight successes, it is helpful for me to offer my attendees a book like this that reiterates the importance of reading, writing and re-writing. For those writer-readers who cannot focus on the reading of a whole book, they should at least read Part One and the section entitled 'Why they said no.' Weldon gives nine solid reasons why agents or publishers might have said 'No' to someone's book. Now that Weldon has listed these points, elaborated them, and put them in a book, maybe writers will take notice. Just to give you a taste, your book might have been rejected because: it was too boring, it was about nothing, it had little or no structure, or it might have been so poorly written that they had you labeled as 'illiterate.' If you publish the book yourself, none of this really matters... and that's the problem as I see it. But, good for Weldon that she calls a spade a spade. If you are still short of time - because you are, of course, busy writing - do look at one of Weldon's answers to the FAQ 'Supposing I don't want to write a good novel, I just want to make money?' Plenty of opportunities for laughs in this book. Weldon does not disappoint us. This is a short book - in a tiny format that you can read under the table when your workshop gets tedious - but it is full of gems from an author who has seen it all, and who is benevolent enough not to smack us over the head with our manuscripts for our own presumptuous foolishness.
This is a wonderful addition to any writer's 'technical' library. Fay Weldon's writing style is so easy to read and her advice is very doable. I haven't got to the point of trying to get my work published so I haven't had any rejections as yet but have made several changes following the advice in this book. This is one book that I"m sure I shall re read several times and will also recommend to fellow writers.