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The forest for the trees : an editor's advice to writers
Lerner, Betsy.
Adult Nonfiction PN147 .L44 2000

Comments  Summary  Contents  Reviews  Author Notes

From Publishers' Weekly:

In a quirky, informal, engaging guide for aspiring writers, Lerner, a literary agent who was most recently executive editor at Doubleday, assumes the posture of the writer's sympathetic friend, coach and psychotherapist all rolled into one. She views writers as neurotic by definition--isolated, a breed apart, prone to phobias and ritualized behaviors, often seething with bottled-up envy, desire for vindication or revenge, obsessed with sex and money ("In other words, the stuff of great books," she quips). Instead of worrying about fame or rejection, or seeking vicarious parental approval through publication, blocked writers and those who can't figure out what they should be writing ought to pursue their obsessions, she urges, mindful that many of the best books are born of anger, pain or the struggle for self-definition. Lerner candidly draws on her experience working both sides of the fence, as poet and teacher of writing workshops as well as editor and agent. She offers hard-nosed advice on topics often overlooked, such as the dynamics of author/editor and author/agent relations; struggles against the temptations of alcohol and drugs; the testing of book titles for marketability; acrimony over jacket art. While a lot of her straight talk has a familiar ring, readers will glean practical nuggets. The book's real value, however, lies in compelling the ambivalent writer to confront his or her inner dreams, demons and strengths, and Lerner illuminates this task with a nonstop barrage of anecdotes and apt observations on writing drawn from Dickens, Orwell, Whitman, Updike, Nabokov, Vidal, Mailer, Grisham, Sontag, Philip Roth and many more. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Lerner's credentials include editorial stints at Houghton-Mifflin, Ballantine, Simon & Schuster, and Doubleday. Working now as a literary agent, she shares an insider's perspective on the publication side of writing. Definitely not a "how-to" book or a style manual, this chatty, informal volume is anecdotal and encouraging to the novice or amateur writer. The first part describes various types of writers Lerner has worked with over the years and how a writer's personality influences both the writing and the ability to get published. Stronger and more helpful, the next section covers the process of manuscript submission and offers concrete advice about literary agents, query letters, multiple submissions, working with editors and publicists, and dealing with rejection and writer's block. Because of her unique approach, this book will find its audience among writers groups and workshops. Recommended for libraries supporting this activity.--Denise S. Sticha, Seton Hill Coll. Lib., Greensburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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