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Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream [Paperback]

by Ann Rittenberg, Laura Whitcomb
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 8, 2006 1582973881 978-1582973883

In Your First Novel, novelist Laura Whitcomb and seasoned literary agent Ann Rittenberg team up to provide you with the skills you need to write your dream novel and the savvy business know-how to get it published. In this all-in-one resource, you'll discover essential novel-writing techniques, such as:

  • How to best structure your research so that you can save time later
  • How to card your story before you start writing
  • What to consider when developing your cast of characters
  • How to adapt classic story structures to fit your own ideas

…and insider information on what it takes to get published, including:

  • What agents do at those three-hour power lunches—and how it affects you
  • What makes an agent instantly reject a manuscript
  • How to correctly translate submission guidelines
  • What happens if you get multiple offers—or no offers at all

Plus, learn about the publishing process from the firsthand accounts of such noted authors as Dennis Lehane, Kathryn Harrison, Jim Fusilli, Kathleen George, and others!


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Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream + Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Superb advice on writing a great novel and getting it published." —Harlan Coben, author of Promise Me

"The advice in Your First Novel rings so true that I found myself sighing through its pages, thinking ‘If I’d been told this earlier, what a lot of trouble I’d have saved myself.’ This book offers the spark of inspiration that gets a writer both mentally and physically geared for the task. Then it delivers something equally vital: clear-headed, positive advice about the business side of writing a novel. It’ll inspire you to create, challenge you to be great, and bolster you with the wisdom of two seasoned professionals." —George Hagen, author of The Laments

"This book is essential reading for anyone impractical enough to try to write a first novel and anyone practical enough to do what it takes to get published. Ann RIttenberg and Laura Whitcomb offer just the right amount of encouragement and common sense. And Dennis Lehane's foreword should become to writers what the Breyer's Pledge is to ice cream." —Peter Blauner, author of Slipping Into Darkness and Slow Motion Riot

About the Author

Ann Rittenberg has been in publishing for twenty-four years, six as an editor and eighteen as an agent. She's worked on the first novels of Dennis Lehane, Kathleen George, and more, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Laura Whitcomb is the author of the acclaimed A Certain Slant of Light. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (September 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582973881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582973883
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An empowering read September 20, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dennis Lehane is winningly honest as he dishes out tough love in his inspiring foreword, leading into the first half of the book (written by novelist Laura Whitcomb) which focuses on the craft of novel writing and is filled with helpful hints, book recommendations, and exercises.

The second half of the book (written by agent Ann Rittenberg) focuses on the business side of publishing your novel. I devoured this section. Even though I had what I thought was a clear understanding of how things worked on the business side, I was not comprehending it as clearly before I read this book, as I am now that I have read it. This section also offers reading recommendations, web site links, and much insider knowledge.

If you are writing your first novel (or your second, third, fourth, fifth, and even if you have already published a novel) this book is for you--as it leads you from inception to publication and beyond. You might find--as I did--that after reading this book you feel better about your work because you realize how much you are doing right by yourself and your work in the potentially intimidating writing life.

In short, where in the past I might have felt anxiety, after reading this book I feel empowered. And that is the strength of being informed.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and inspiring December 7, 2006
Format:Paperback
I write for children and found this book extremely useful. The introduction by Dennis Lehane was inspiring. I was moved to tears by his generosity, of his exposing his own struggles and dreams of writing. The rest of the book demonstrated what he had written. Laura Whitcomb not only inspires, she provides practical, easy to use methods for contacting and using your "muse"--creative powers. In the second half of the book, Ann Rittenberg is honest and straight forward in the advice she gives about the business aspect of the writing business. After the first read of the book, I felt more confident and motivated as a writer. The second read of the book was like a workshop for me. I highly recommend this book.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Reading this book is like having two wise and supportive friends take you aside and really dish about what it takes to successfully write and publish a novel.

Laura Whitcomb offers inspiring and practical advice on the writing side: everything from how to prepare your right brain for the creative process, to how to end a chapter.

Ann Rittenberg demystifies the entire publishing process and offers a rare look at what happens when (not if) you sell your novel. Her examples of bad query letters are hysterically funny and make you realize you really can do better than THAT.

Both authors are generous with their references and honest in their suggestions. Regardless of how far you are in your own novel writing process, you will find something useful and enjoyable in this book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your Key to the Doors of the Publishing World May 14, 2008
Format:Paperback
Finishing my first novel was a long, often painful, often exciting journey. But when it was done, what came next? I really had no idea.

Having accomplished one of my life's major goals, I was thrilled just to complete the darn thing. But would it ever get published? Would anyone ever read it?

I felt like Peggy Lee singing "is that all there is?"

I needed help. After taking a look at many of the resources out there, I settled on Ann Rittenberg's and Laura Whitcomb's excellent Your First Novel as my primary guide.

I'm so glad I did. Now, to be honest, since my book was already done, I didn't read Ms. Whitcomb's chapters, which focus on the writing process. Instead, I hungrily jumped to Ms. Rittenberg's sections on how to sell it.

And sell it I did. Following Ms. Rittenberg's very clear and logically organized advice, I was able to obtain an agent and a publisher. I knew what questions to expect, what objections I'd have to overcome, and how best to package and present my work.

I've looked at many books of this sort, and Your First Novel was the most helpful for me. In fact, now that I'm writing my second novel, I've started to read Ms. Whitcomb's writing advice. Hopefully, it will be as rewarding as Ms. Rittenberg's contributions were, and it will help me avoid the dreaded sophmore slump.

Good luck to you in your journey!

Scott Sherman, author, First You Fall: A Kevin Connor Mystery
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY a book on writing worth reading! June 22, 2009
By Matt
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've spent hundreds of dollars on dozens of books designed to teach aspiring authors the craft. Most of the books sing the same song and at the end the reader realizes he's just wasted many hours of valuable time that could have been spent practicing the craft or reading worthwhile prose.

Despite the dozens of writing-related books it recommends throughout the book, Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream is the only book on writing you need. It shows, not tells, aspiring novelists by providing countless examples from familiar works, something most other books lack.

The book is divided into two sections, one about authoring a book and the other about publishing the novel. I haven't read the second part (I want to finish the manuscript before I start thinking about getting it into print), but I still feel confident in giving the book five stars because even if the publishing section was filled with blank pages I have learned more from the first section than I have from every other book I've purchased (including On Writing by Stephen King, Telling Lies for Fun & ... yawn ... Profit, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creative Writing, 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists, The First Five Pages, and many, many more).

If you are serious about writing a novel, this book is a must-have.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Tool For Writing Your First Novel
This book was very helpful and had all of the information an aspiring author needs. I highly recommend it. It's an excellent resource.
Published 1 month ago by La Isla Bonita
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this Book
This book really helped me to start working on my first novel which I am about to finish soon. It's quite helpful if you want to write your own first book.
Published 6 months ago by Padilla Rojas Nilber Enrique
4.0 out of 5 stars Tough love
I thought the book lived up to it's promise. Sometimes the medicine is hard to take. Tough love. But I told myself, that I wanted the truth. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a book to read...
"your first NOVEL" is more than a book to read; it is a book you will keep close, read again and again... it will become a reference book, it will become a dear friend. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Gruffy
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful
I did find useful help here,but as with all "instruction" books, it is only a guideline. The style is easily readable and provides some good information. Read more
Published 10 months ago by drafty spots
3.0 out of 5 stars Learned little to nothing
The publishing world is nepotistic and weird. This book proves it once you try to use it practically. Did not find terrifically enlightening.
Published 14 months ago by Alberta OB
4.0 out of 5 stars This writing book is very easy to read and apply
The concept -- author-agent -- is a good one. The book is well written and anticipates my next question. Worth bringing into your library.
Published 14 months ago by Technology Runs Amok Novelist
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, fun and helpful
I found this book extreemly helpful. The book begins with giving tips on technique and writing excercises. Some of these writing excercise have led to some of my best stories. Read more
Published on February 1, 2012 by Evangheline
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the greatest writing book I've ever read
It's an ok book for someone new to the business that has no idea what they are doing but I felt the book didn't exactly help with the writing process itself besides a few helpful... Read more
Published on January 4, 2012 by Trisha
5.0 out of 5 stars A great place to start for any writer
I found the information in this book to not only be enlightening, but it was with out a doubt, a great resource of information as a first time novelist. Read more
Published on May 14, 2011 by Rob Graham
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