The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks Paperback – August 21, 2018
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"In clear, energetic, and forthright language, writer and teacher Shapiro (Only as Good as Your Word) provides a nuts-and-bolts guide to getting a piece of nonfiction writing published...her insights are excellent starting points for beginners and good reminders for veterans." ~Publishers Weekly
"Anyone who's ever had Shapiro as a writing professor knows that when it comes to getting published, the woman knows what she’s talking about. In The Byline Bible, Shapiro shares practical tips on how to spot good topics, craft killer pitches and land pieces in top publications. A must for anyone trying to break into the writing business." ~New York Post
"In this wholly entertaining guide for freelance writers looking to climb the publication ladder, professor and scribe Susan Shapiro transfers her highly successful, results-oriented course to print in a lively new release." ~BookishFirst
About the Author
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 1440353689
- ISBN-13 : 978-1440353680
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.67 x 8.44 inches
- Paperback : 272 pages
- Publisher : Writer's Digest Books (August 21, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #70,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In the BYLINE BIBLE, Shapiro gives lively advice about how to get started (The first chapter is actually called "Where to start" and begins with "What should I write?") It's not heavy handed, but includes stories of how students got published, along with tips and tricks for framing the story, and then finding the right editor to sell it to. Each chapter has also includes riveting examples of student writing that got published in venues from the Washington Post to Men's Journal to O the Oprah Magazine. These students weren't world-renowned experts, just experts in their own experience and how to relate it to others.
While the book will help even the most inexperienced writer get into print, more experienced writers will get a lot out of it, too, especially if they're interested in writing more essays, memoir, or creative nonfiction in general. Shapiro writes "I've been writing professionally every day for thirty-five years, yet I still have no idea whether my early drafts are dazzling or disastrous." Kind of a relief. (That quote is from a chapter about having others critique or edit your work.) The advice ranges from the broad to the specific. For a chapter on humor writing, she notes, "Specifics make everything funnier. 'I haven't had sex in years' doesn't sound as original as 'I haven't been laid since the Reagan administration.' " As you can see, there's a lot to enjoy even if you're not a writer.
Shapiro also includes examples of cover letters that worked, and many engaging essays by her students that got published.
Just to give full disclosure, a short humor piece of mine is included in the book (it appeared in McSweeney's), a piece Shapiro gave me edits and critiques on. I was happy to be included among such an august bunch, and hungrily read the whole book. You will, too.
I think if you've got a story you're burning to tell, you deserve a shot at telling it. Or if you just enjoy reading essays, humor, memoir, or anything about writing, the book is worth picking up too.
I tore through this book in about two days. I RARELY buy books but I pre-ordered this one... I just had a feeling it would be a treasure trove of useful information that I'd want to go back to and it did not disappoint. I've taken a pitching class, read tons on the topic of writing and pitching, and while there were some parts of this book I already knew a) it was great to have everything consolidated in one place vs random corners of the internet, notebooks I've misplaced and b) there was also a good deal of info and advice that was new to me or explained in a way that more of an impression on me. Not only that but it's not just a bunch of information Shapiro is spewing at you.. It's hard-won knowledge that she imbues with personality and humor.
Some of the most actionable information I've seen so far is how to make an ordinary essay topical and timely so it is attractive to editors for publishing; how to use Mamet's advice : "...Who wants what from whom, what happens if they don't get it, why now?.." for focus; how to sharpen up the opening paragraph.
Before you get too far though, Ms. Shapiro asks you to think about concrete , doable publishing goals. She discusses the myriad levels and places to publish, who takes more or less accomplished writers: the possibilities. Later in the book, detailed information leads the way to contacts.
Most moving to me, though, was this line, #10 on the list of advice she gives when it comes time to figuring out good essay topics for her infamous "Humiliation Personal Essay Assignment": Remember, that the first piece you write that your family hates means that you've found your voice. I was stunned reading this sentence. Memories of having my writing being viewed harshly flooded back. Further discussions later in the book outline how to deal with criticism reasonably and productively. I now possess this nugget forever. I do have a writer's voice. I always wondered how I would know when I had it.
So one thing is done in my list of doables from this book. I know I've developed a writer's voice. The Byline Bible has earned its place on my bookshelf.
Reader: This is an excellently written, well organized piece of writing. The information in it is actively practical, something that can't always be said for books on this topic. Many are either too detailed, or not interesting enough to keep the readers attention. This one is neither. This is an area that desperately needed updating in my personal library, so I'm glad that I was able to pick this one up.
Top reviews from other countries
Honestly, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be published in newspapers, magazines or print. It is hands-down the most practical writing book you'll ever read. There are dozens of links to examples of published works from Sue and her students and prompts to get you started.
Following these steps, I believe absolute beginner writers could find themselves going from unpublished to published in 5 weeks.
For me, it gave me the confidence to see the value in my personal experience and validated that personal essays are a legitimate form of writing and self-expression. I've set new goals and I'm open to new possibilities. I've bought a copy on both Kindle and paperback.
A big thanks to Sue who has probably saved me $10,000 on a graduate diploma when what I really needed was a little guidance and some practical experience.