book reviews

Books on Publishing
Reviewed by: T.J. Nelson

Book Proposals That Sell:
21 Secrets to Speed Your Success
W. Terry Whalin

A brief, highly readable introduction to getting your nonfiction book accepted by a publisher. Unlike novels, almost all nonfiction books are sold to a publisher before they are written; indeed, most editors will automatically reject a manuscript that arrives unsolicited on their desk. Whalin describes how to write your book proposal in clear, unpretentious language.

Thinking Like Your Editor:
How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction--and Get It Published
Susan Rabiner

W ho says there aren't any more feminist editors? Ms. Rabiner, a former acquisitions editor, is not ashamed to admit that her personal ideology sometimes plays an important role in whether a book is accepted for publication. Unlike most other books on this subject, Rabiner also gives some tips on writing nonfiction. While she's clearly very knowledgeable about how books get published, and gives generally good advice, her ideology cramps her writing style: it's a mess of screechingly inconsistent and inappropriate gender-biased pronouns which manage to give the impression of modern editors not as defenders of intellectual freedom, but as ideologically inbred gatekeepers, dedicated to preserving their hold over the country's intellectual discourse. A male aspiring writer, in particular, would be justified in wondering whether he would receive fair treatment from Rabiner and her fellow editors. That impression may be false, but to correct that perception, this book badly needed an editor. Oh, wait....

See also Writing Books

Professors as Writers:
A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing
Robert Boice

A therapeutic guide to academics who are afraid to start writing a paper. In my experience, victims of this particular phobia are about as common as pink spotted unicorns. Writing is thinking. If someone who has made it to "professor" is still unable to write a paper, it means either that they haven't learned how to think or that they are afraid to think. And they should consider the very real possibility that this is why they have nothing to say.

The First Five Pages:
A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
Noah Lukeman

M ost fiction writers are painfully aware that 99% of all manuscripts are rejected. As the editors see it, their job is to find a reason to reject your manuscript. They can usually tell whether your tome is a stinker within the first five pages. This book's strength is the examples of truly awful paragraphs that would put your novel in the 'reject' pile. But the advice is basic. If you're making the mistakes described in this book, you should forget about writing and take a class in remedial English composition.