The Swiss Army Knife for Books: The Essential Guide to Getting your Book Published Reviewed by Rick Kieffel

a lovely interview by a really interesting guy writes about books

07-27-11: Arielle Eckstutt and David Henry Sterry write ‘The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully!’

Swiss Army Knife for Would-Be Writers

I’m a skeptic so far as how-to write books go. Those who want to write will, and those who don’t, won’t. It’s not rocket science. Moreover, the effort required to read a book about how to write generally exceeds the threshold of actually writing something. But once you’ve actually written something that you want somebody else to read, some kind of guidebook can actually be helpful, particularly if you’ve spent more time writing your book than surfing the Internet looking for the means to publicize it.

Arielle Eckstutt and David Henry Sterry call themselves “The Book Doctors,” and if you have been surfing instead of writing, then chances are you have happened across their site. You can now help justify their investment in that site with an investment in your own writing, that is ‘The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully’ (Workman ; November 4, 2011 ; $15.95). It will not write your book for you. It will not sell your book for you. But it will not waste your time, either.

“The Guide,” as I shall henceforth call it, covers pretty much everything with regards to writing and selling a book, and these days, that’s a lot. It’s divided into three parts; “Setting Up Shop,” “Taking Care of Business” and “Getting the Word Out.” Chances are that you won’t need to consult the whole shebang, but also that you’ll be able to find the parts you do need and read them without getting frustrated. Moreover, there are lots of Internet-oriented pointers and recommendations in here that are as up-to-date as can be, since the publishing world has been turned upside-down in the last ten years.

What this translates to is lots of useful, readable and ultimately usable information to help otherwise harried writers wrap their brains around …. I just can’t make myself type that phrase, but you know what I’m talking about, the standardized services that we use instead of email and website hosting. More and more, writers are being told, even famous writers, by New York publishers, that this is a swamp into which they must wade. Consider this book your first set of waders. Good luck! Be sure to shower afterwards. (I do.)

But once you’ve washed your hands of Internet publicity, Eckstutt and Sterry give you some step-by-step advice with regards to bringing your book and your self to the public. Eckstutt was an agent, which lends some street cred to her advice regarding agents. Sterry has twelve books under his belt, and that lends credence to his writing advice, which is engagingly sparse and to the point. There’s no happy wappy here. There are sharp edges that will perhaps inspire you to quit the whole enterprise, and if that happens, you got your money’s worth. But you can also get a few sharp edges yourself when you read this book. They may even help you get your book published.

The critical piece of the puzzle is this; “The Guide” is pretty entertaining even, and perhaps, especially, if you don’t have any intention of becoming an instant celebrity. The advice you find in here can be applied to a wide variety of occupations, whether you’re a plumber or a graphic designer. If you’re a writer, of course, it’s all directly applicable. Look, the chances are in this environment that you won’t succeed. “The Guide” at least gives you the tools to spend a conscionable amount of time mitigating the certainty of failure. And in spite of what every grammarian in the universe will tell you, sometimes a double negative is the best score you can possibly get.