I’m a sucker for hearing it like it is. I don’t like sugar coating unless it’s on my donuts and I don’t like smarmy, schmmoozy words with an underlying purpose. They make my skin crawl just a little–like when the baker tries too hard to slip the day old cinnamon twists in with the fresh ones just to get them off the rack.
You’ll get none of this with Lynn Price in her masterpiece, The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box. In it, she writes for us, not herself. After all, she’s an author and the editorial director of Behler Publicatons. She doesn’t benefit in any way if we sell our picture book Squirrels in Space. Rather, she writes to give us an edge in a convoluted industry filled with contradictions and ever-changing practices.
I first became interested in Ms. Price through her blog. What attracted me was her writing style. She’s up front, honest and makes no apologies for how she feels. Sound off-putting? It’s not. Because sprinkled within her posts like candy bits on a cake donut are wit and charm that have literally made me laugh out loud. Almost every time I read her blog I learn something new about the publishing industry, the submission process or myself as a writer.
Needless to say, when a fellow AQer began spouting off about a great new book he was reading, I was intrigued. Finally he spilled that it was none other than Lynn’s Tackle Box. Of course, I deliberated for a moment or two then purchased a copy for myself. Who says word of mouth doesn’t work?
And now, I’m passing this word along to you: if you have only one book on your writer’s bookshelf, it should be The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box. I know, because I have 27 of them. Writing books, that is. Not Tackle Boxes.
So what makes this book stand out above the rest?
Unlike many of the other books on my shelf, The Tackle Box is all encompassing. One of the biggest mistakes budding writers make is not knowing the industry. And there is so much to know. Rather than tell it all herself, Ms. Price engaged the help of industry professionals to reveal the nuts and bolts of every aspect of book making.
From agents to publicists to book reviewers and authors, she has every question covered and some we never thought to ask. Ms. Price did her homework so we wouldn’t have to.
Yet she doesn’t stop there. Once we’ve digested the process from manuscript to bookshelf, Ms. Price serves up an entire section on the dreaded submission process. As an editor, she has seen her share of queries, paritals and fulls. Rather than let us suffer through all the mistakes she’s encountered, she provides an honest reaction for us to learn from.
“I wince every time I hear this…” and “I implode on a regular basis…” are just a few of her non-coated truths.
I would rather hear this from a book, when I still have my query letter in front of me and can tweak a sentence or two, rather than in a rejection letter after I’ve offended my targeted agent. Or worse yet, after I’ve been rejected by every available agent willing to consider a manuscript on alien squirrels.
I was lost for days reading and rereading her myth busters on the submission process. I think you will be too.
And if that isn’t enough, The Tackle Box tackles the controversy over publishers. Who are they and what do they want? What’s the difference between a POD, vanity press and small press? Why is it important to know everything about your potential publisher before you submit your manuscript?
True to her blog style, Ms. Price fearlessly takes on the ups and downs of each option and lays them out for us in easy to understand format. By the time I was done reading, I could no longer plead ignorant on any aspect of publishing. This alone would have satisfied me as a book buyer. Yet, the best part remained.
Her tips on writing. Granted, it’s a small section, like the pudding in the middle of an eclair, but it is packed with writing rules and leaves nothing out. Want a tip on independent clauses? It’s in there, complete with an example sentence for hands on learning. POV, italics, cursing? Yep, yep and yep.
Yet in the end, what I loved most about this book is that Ms. Price doesn’t tell me how to get published, rather, she gives me the tools to do it myself. And that comes in the form of a tackle box.
Armed with my line, hooks and a comprehensive guide to the process, I can confidently trawl the waters of the publishing industry. With luck I’ll reel in a book deal.
*Disclaimer: no donuts were harmed in the writing of this post, nor was I paid in any way to assess the virtues of this book. Rather, when I sent an email to Behler Publications with the intent to purchase The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box for my blog contest, they donated the prize. For anyone following my blog or my tweets, you already know the Behler Blog is one of my most referenced sites–and that was before the donut donation.*