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Book Review: Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now by Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark

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Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark come to Write That Book Already! with heavy-hitting credentials as well as industrial-strength advice for those wondering how to get their books published. Barry is a marketing and promotions manager at HarperOne and the author of a nonfiction book. Goldmark has worked on publicity campaigns for many major publishers in this country. She is the author of a novel and coauthor or contributor to many other books. She also produces the radio program, West Coast Live. Together they write the Author Enablers blog at the Book Page website.

But wait – there's more! Not only are the authors experts, they also persuaded some of the top writers in the country to contribute their insights, recommendations, and advice. Wouldn't you like to know, for example, what other helpful writing books famous authors like Anne Lamott, Amy Tan, and Norman Mailer have suggested? How about a glossary of publishing terms from Acetate to Widow to make you sound in the know?

One caveat, though: Write That Book Already! is not a book about writing or how to write or even how to write a novel-length manuscript. The writing part occupies only the first 47 pages and it is more meta-writing than writing itself. It covers aspects like getting started, organizing yourself, managing time, and still segues into building a platform as early as chapter two. This may be annoying to begin with, but starting with chapter four, the writing settles down into a more logical progression. 

It provides details and insights into the even more necessary functions of getting a book published — like writing a proposal and a query letter to first attract an agent. Other helpful sections (for after you've sold the book to a publisher) include how to work well with your publisher's editor, marketing and publicity.

The bonus chapter, I think, is one that every person who has even a fleeting notion of self-publishing just must read! It is a hard-hitting, no illusions, tough but realistic look into the realities of publishing your book yourself. The authors point out that this craze is nothing new. In fact, the earliest publishing was self-publishing, and it has flourished throughout the centuries. It's just a lot cheaper and easier these days to get a book printed. Their list of well-known books that were first published by their authors may astonish you.

The detailed explanations of how to make a success of self-publishing will give anyone who is considering this route a long pause. As Goldmark and Barry write:

Self-publishing can be a great idea for some authors, but it is a lot of work and isn't right for everyone or every type of book. Impatience and frustration aren't the best reasons to self-publish; you need to have resources and a carefully thought-out plan if you are going to go this route. That said, these are changing times, and some self-published authors are finding success…

…And as many of those will tell you, it should be a business decision to self-publish.

For neophyte writers, Appendix II — "The Life Cycle of a Book" — might prove helpful and interesting. "From Writing to Royalties and Other Post-Publication Biz," they outline all aspects you must deal with, whether your book is traditionally or self-published. You'll understand why putting out a book is probably a much larger endeavor than you ever dreamed, and how much risk publishing companies (or you) take on. In fact, most books not only don't earn back their advances (one reason for dwindling advances these days), but also that most published books don't even make a profit for the publishers. Or the authors, if they value the time they've spent on the project.


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About Georganna Hancock

Retired San Diego publisher, journalist, freelance editor and writer, blogged almost daily for eight years at A WRITERS EDGE. She helped writers on the path to writing success with critiques, edits and publishing advice. Find her author page on Amazon and her tweets on Twitter, where she's aka @GLHancock. Georganna's first writing appeared in print in the 1960s. She worked as a journalist for many years. She reviewed books for the FORT PIERCE NEWS TRIBUNE and THE LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL and wrote for THE MIAMI HERALD, regional publications, and many national magazines. She was a member of the National Book Critics Circle, the San Diego Professional Editors Network and the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, for which she served as Web Manager. Books reviewed may have been received as gifts. All her writings are protected by U.S. copyright law.
  • This is the kind of response that keeps some of us keepin’ on. Thanks so much, Toya, for taking the time and making the effort to comment. Good luck with your writing career!

  • Thank you so much for this review because I have been eyeing this book for a while through Writers Digest. Thanks to your review this is definitely a book I’ll consider investing in.