Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box

When it comes to books about writing and publication, Lynn Price’s The Writer's Essential Tackle Box is a great all-rounder. I’d recommend it to any new writers, and some chapters would be interesting to those of us who have been around the block a few times as well.

The book is divided into four sections—interviews with industry professionals, the submission process, publishers and troubleshooting problems in manuscripts. My favorite section was the first one, which showed the perspectives of the numerous people involved in getting a book from its writer to bookstore browsers. If you ever wondered what a book shepherd did, how professional cover designers pick colors or how distributors accept clients, this is the go-to book. Also, just a couple of the familiar names in the interview section were Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware and Laurie McLean of Larson Pomada Literary Agents, so this is quality information.

The second section covers query letters, pitches, log lines and synopses, but the most entertaining part was, as always, the what-not-to-do chapter. The SASE that was actually an empty coconut, the chocolate that melted in the envelope and the flower-scented envelope that had little hearts dotting the i’s.

It felt inherently wrong to put a rejection letter into something so frilly and fluffy. This was a happy envelope that should hold happy things… I swear I could see its little paper edges begin to curl and the little hearts deflate.

If I had a complaint, it would be that I’d read the horror stories about the dark side of publishing before, on Lynn Price’s blog, but there’s something to be said for a book that gathers them all together and adds plenty of new material. I thought I’d read her "Punctuation Beerfest" before as well, but it was fun to see this for a second time, and to have it close at hand in this book. I might not call this book “essential”, but it was a lot of other e’s – educational, energetic and entertaining. For everyone.