'How I Got Published' provides the success stories of many writers. Stories that will help would-be writers persevere until they succeed. Such authors as Stephen King, David Morell and Stephen White detail the hardships they went through, reassuring writers that they can be published if they keep trying.
So, here is a book containing the essays of ninety-four, if I counted correctly, authors writing about their trials and tribulations in the primitive wilderness of pre-authority, and successfully bring themselves to the lea of published authorship, mostly. It also has five summaries written by the editor, which, for my money, are well worth paying attention to.
When I picked up this book in the bookstore, I read the blurbs on the back, scanned the CIP page, and then perused the Table of Contents. Save one, I didn’t recognize a single name. Fortunately for me, there is a small bio for each author preceding each essay. The vast majority of the contributors are writers of Fiction and/or Mystery. That dovetails precisely with why I never heard of them – I rarely read those genres, and when I do, I tend to go with the classics. Their personal stories, however, with a few exceptions, were a delight to read. The exceptions to this statement were two essays that were shorter than their meager bios (although one was encouraging), and another that was a ‘praise’ piece (in a religiously fundamental sort of way) that made me wonder why the editors included it at all. At the very least, this book introduced me to a host of authors I will want to consider if I ever choose to expand my reading horizons. It also provided me with a few names to avoid entirely.
I will not toss out any spoilers, although I can now easily regurgitate a dozen bits of advice that were common threads among most of these essays. You should read them for yourself, because that’s how you reinforce the good habits and shun the bad ones. The wilderness analogy I used earlier is a reference to the fact that for each of the on-subject authors, s/he had to find his/her own way to become published. They had similar, yet unique experiences, but they all accomplished that somewhat elusive goal. As you will read, you will find that the specific fact of being published is not the prize in and of itself.
I liked this book for a number of reasons. For those who are ‘on the fence’ about whether to write, or how to go about writing, or what to do when you think you’re finished writing – I highly recommend this book. The longest essay is five or six pages; a lot are merely two. It’s a fast read, and there is a wealth of very good, reiterative information. There’s a whole art to writing a query letter for me to learn yet; and support groups (!). And for all you serious wannabe writers, don’t ignore the CIP page.