Pat Walsh is an Editor who takes on the task of schooling the would-be novelist on how to improve their writing by providing them with the reasons they might be better off taking up golf. He also adds 14 Reasons why it might be published. The chapters are small, the writing is clear and concise, the word choice errs on the side of the simple and understandable. It is also pretty damned funny.
I’ve been writing this and that for a long time, but I have never been published. I have a couple of manuscripts I have been kicking around, but they are pretty much lost causes. And that brings us to Reason #1, which happens to be the reason my book will never be published-I Have Not Written It. But judging from his comments on the books that have been written, I get the feeling he thinks this is a good thing.
The fact that there are 78 Reasons why your book may never be published and only 14 reasons that it just might be speaks to the odds against having a novel make it into print. The essays given to each Reason are short and often end with a little gag, so as to take the sting out of the barb. The advice is sound and well reasoned and will likely be ignored by it’s intended target. As he says, Writers tend to have blind spots when it comes to their own writing. I can read the reasons and nod my head in agreement, and yet my own work suffers from any number of them.
My favorite little gag has to do with Pat meeting one of the authors whose work he had rejected. The Writer tries to explain the deeper meaning of the work and clarify the points that Pat had missed. In the end he said they had to end their talk, as his pizza was getting cold and the Writer had other deliveries to make. Da-dum-bump!
He talks about basic stuff here, but I know from talking to fellow would-be-writers that the basic stuff is often missing from their world view. Things like Grammar, Syntax, The Slush Pile, Publishers, Editors, and Agents. All the stuff you should have learned by reading Strunk & White and the opening essays of Writer’s Market and Literary Marketplace. Things that all those books on How To Write A Novel and Get It Published bang on about.
This is a book written for people who already have a novel finished and need some advice on where to go from there. An idea, a few notes scribbles on a napkin, a rough outline that hits the high points, is not a finished novel. 78 Reasons is still a great little book and well worth reading, even if your novel is forever in the planning stages.
In the end, the advice boils down the bleeding obvious-write a Great Book. Then make sure you have a great cover letter, a short and snappy bio, perfect spelling, everything correct and proper in the manuscript, and the patience to wait for that call from a happy Editor who wants to publish your book. How hard can that be?