Carolyn See''s "Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers" is the best book about writing and publishing I''ve come across -- and we all know there are plenty of them out there.
See projects a realistic, down-to-earth look at what it''s REALLY like to write and get published. It''s the kind of book that most writers, quite honestly, won''t like because they''ve been told all these years that, "Yes, you CAN be a published author in just three easy steps." If you''re self-publishing, that''s true; but if you want to publish the "old-fashioned way" See''s insights and savvy insider''s advice will give you the lowdown. It''s not all doom and gloom, to be sure -- because she also provides some great tips about living a writer''s life that you''d probably not ever think of otherwise; i.e., handwriting "charming notes" to your favorite autors to establish a connection.
See takes the reader/wanna-be writer through the steps of writing (1,000 words a day, WITHOUT FAIL), submissions and rejections (and acceptances!), publication (why isn''t anyone buying my book?), marketing and promotion (about 98% on your own, and on your own dime), and the aftermath of the whole rollercoaster process.
It''s an absorbing read and, at 288 pages, easy enough to get through in a few days. She provides dozens of anecdotes about hers, and others'', experiences. Some are humorous; See has a wry sense of humor and isn''t afraid to laugh at herself (read her autobiography, "Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America" and you''ll know why).
Others, though are sobering -- designed to make aspiring writers understand the realities of the process. What I sensed See is trying to tell us throughout "Making a Literary Life" -- at least, what I came away with -- was that, if you want to write, and you want to make this your career, and you want to support yourself (even if rather modeslty), then yes, follow the dream; it;sa what you were meanto be and do. But, don''t kid yourself about your chances of being the next Danielle Steele, or being whisked off on world book tours aboard luxurious private jets.
Though never stated outright, I believe See admonishes us to write because you have to write, because you love to write, because you don''t know what else would bring you such consummation. So be prepared to encounter and engage the snafus she ascribes, especially to the publishing end. T^hen just go about your business -- and pleasure -- armed with See''s savvy, witty advice and sense of good humor.