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The Writer's Book of Hope: Getting from Frustration to Publication Paperback – October 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

To be clear: this is not a guide on how to write a book (Keyes covered that in his last volume, The Courage to Write). Rather, it's a tool for writers who have found their courage and now need hope: that their work is good, that it will be published despite the inevitable rejections, that readers will actually buy it. "Frustration is the natural habitat of writers at every level," writes Keyes, a trustee of the Antioch Writers' Workshop, and his goal here is to lead writers out of the darkness of despair and into the light of reassurance. Keyes offers useful advice on coping with "discouragers" (they "can be dispatched by understanding their motives and by putting them to work as goads"); "exorcising excuses" ("I have no talent"); and "rites of rejection." He introduces writers to the strange habits of the "publishing tribe" (they are, he says, slaves to the opinion of their peers), and offers many anecdotes from the experiences of A-list writers such as Ann Patchett and Tony Hillerman. Writers seeking reasons to hope should get a boost from this gently reassuring handbook.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


A perfect companion for every writer. Keyes gives you solid information you can put to use while he bolsters the faith you need to keep going. (Judith Appelbaum, author of How to Get Happily Published)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1 edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805072357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805072358
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ralph Keyes's sixteen books include the bestselling Is There Life After High School? which became a Broadway musical still produced in this country and abroad. His book Chancing It was a New York Times Notable Book, and The Courage to Write has been in print for 15 years. Keyes has discussed his work on Oprah, The Today Show, Tonight Show, ABC World News Tonight and 20/20 as well as NPR's Fresh Air, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, and On the Media. In addition to his books he has written hundreds of articles and essays for publications ranging from GQ to Good Housekeeping. An article Keyes co-authored for the Harvard Business Review won its prestigious McKinsey Award for Best Article of the Year. After graduating from Antioch College in 1967 Keyes spent was Assistant to the Publisher of Long Island's Newsday for two years. After that he spent a decade as a Fellow of the Center for Studies of the Person in La Jolla, California, then worked as a freelance writer in the Philadelphia area Keyes now lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio with his wife Muriel where he writes, lectures, and is a Trustee of the Antioch Writers' Workshop.

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ron Atkins on November 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Keyes does a great job presenting the case for finding hope in the writing process. This book specifically discusses: dealing with anxiety, frustration and despair, overcoming the discouragers in your life, exorcising excuses for not writing and pursuing a career in writing, the rites of rejection, the nature of publishers and editors, and how to keep hope alive.

Years ago I had a basketball coach who taught "if you're not getting at least four fouls in a game, you're not playing defense." He didn't like fouls, but his point was, in the process of playing the game aggressively, fouls are going to happen. Fouls are not necessarily indicators of defeat, they are indicators of effort. Likewise, Keyes' approach to rejection is that all successful writers deal with rejection. In his book he provides numerous examples, including Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners, of authors who face rejection even after winning critical acclaim. Rejection is a fact of life, Keyes say, learn to deal with it. Easily stated, but it still hurts. According to Keyes, writers who have not experienced rejection are not sending out enough material; and, writers who don't learn to accept rejection as part of the writing process, are doomed to quit writing altogether.

Keyes is the author of another book titled "The Courage to Write," which I highly recommend. Similar books by other authors which I would also recommend for the aspiring writer include: "On Becoming a Novelist," by John Gardner, and "The Forest for the Trees," by Betsy Lerner.

Ron Atkins is the author of two children's books, Abby and the Bicycle Caper, and his upcoming (January 2005) Abby and the Bike Race Mystery.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. B. Schwartz on January 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've read enough self-help and inspirational books, and books about writing, to last a lifetime, so when I spied The Writer's Book of Hope at my public library, I hesitated. But the title caught my eye, and I ended up gulping it down it in a few sessions. I'm glad I did-it's given me a new perspective on my writing practice. I've learned that frustration, cluelessness, and despair are a normal part of the writing process. And while I still encounter the same writing problems I did before, I'm more easygoing about them. It's as if I've adopted a new attitude: "So I'm clueness at the moment-that's OK, it will pass." I'm much more at ease and confident of my abilities, and I've developed a broader perspective on the writing process-all of which is increasing my productivity and enjoyment at my typewriter.
The book is clearly the result of a lot of research. (Check out the photos on Keyes' Web site showing the yards of file cabinets in his house.) Keyes doesn't trot out the tired authors' anecdotes that we've all heard before; he serves up a host of tidbits that were new to me. The quotes by masters (such as Tolstoy) about their lack of "talent" are alone worth the price of the book. I also appreciated Keyes' no-nonsense tone. I was expecting New Age warmth and fuzziness, but Keyes pulls no punches. Take his observation that some people who give up writing do so not because they lack talent, but because they are uncomfortable spending long periods alone. That's not a "nice" thing to say, but it's truthful and important to know.
The Writer's Book of Hope delivers on its promise. It provides practical hope and inspiration to writers based on a clear-eyed view of the writing profession. It gave me a new lease on my writing life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. DeBow on August 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Every writer needs hope. And hope is what I always get when I read and reread Ralph Keyes's book, The Writer's Book of Hope.
As an experienced, many times published writer, people might think I've got this writing profession figured out. But I don't. And on those days when I'm feeling lonely, dejected and sometimes rejected, I know I can turn to Keyes's book to help me realize I'm not alone in my insecurity and feeling of flakiness.

There are days when I wonder if it isn't too late to go to plumbing school or enroll in the matchbook school of mosaic tiling. Writing does that too you. Plays games with your mind and confidence.

But when those days creep up on me, I find solace in Hope. It makes my green skin turn less bright when I read John Grisham received twenty-some odd rejections and agents turned down JK Rowlings. Yet they persisted. And that, among other things is the difference between writers who stay the distance and those who let the publishing world get the better of them.

Keyes has been there. He's one of us. He's not on a perch talking down to us wannabes. He's simply further in his journey than many of us. And that qualifies him as a leader. And the fact that he's willing to share the good, bad and ugly of this writer's world is generous.

Reading the book is like sitting in an easy chair talking to a wise sage (with a little bit of mischief in his eyes) talking about the world of writing. Eyeball to eyeball. Writer to writer...friend to friend. And by doing so, Keyes offers us that thread that tethers writers together in this profession that is not for the faint of heart. And for that I'm grateful.

Susan DeBow, writer
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