Erika Dreifus's Reviews > Your Path to Publication: A Guide to Navigating the World of Publishing

Your Path to Publication by Kim Wright
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Jan 29, 12

bookshelves: writing-related
Read from December 19 to 20, 2011

If you want to learn how to smartly and sanely navigate “the experience of publishing and all that comes with it,” you have several options. You could read infinite blogs or a year’s worth of writing magazines. You could attend a few writing conferences. Or you could read Kim Wright’s new book, *Your Path to Publication: A Guide to Navigating the World of Publishing*.

If Wright’s name is familiar, that may be because we interviewed her here nearly two years ago, shortly after her debut novel, *Love in Mid Air*, was released. At the time, I mentioned that I’d met Wright back in 2003, when I was completing a low-residency MFA program in creative writing and she, a veteran freelancer, was brought in to talk to the graduating students. Her talk that day helped fuel and organize my own post-graduate freelancing efforts, for which I have remained very grateful.

When her first novel was released, Wright had been a full-time writer and book author for 25 years. But she learned a lot on the road to and through publication as a novelist, and she shares those insights in her new book. As she correctly notes, there are plenty of resources available to help writers *write* their books. This guide, however, focuses “on what happens after your book is finished.” It supplies “an exploration of the things” that Wright wishes she had known at the start of that journey. This means that the book is likely to be most helpful for writers of fiction and/or nonfiction who are hoping to land agents and larger contracts, or who have perhaps already signed with agents and are just entering the selling stage. (Poets, this probably isn’t the book for you.)

Wright’s lively voice and anecdotes from her own and others’ experiences move the book seamlessly through chapters focused on getting early readers’ reactions to the work; networking; conferences, workshops, and MFA programs; searching for and signing with an agent; selling the book; contracts; working with editors and publicists; and “what to expect once your book is out.” One later chapter also gives a nod to “indie authors” and “the brave new world of self-publishing.”

The conference guidance is among the clearest I’ve seen in its breakdown of “lecture-style,” “workshop-style,” and “pitch” types. The nuts-and-bolts details on selling and contracts are invaluable (and generous: Wright is open about her own advance and how she basically earned it back through foreign-rights sales alone). Throughout, Wright wants you to remember that “selling and marketing a novel involves an extended series of choices and negotiations.” Although writers are not in total control throughout this process, “we do have some control, and the decisions that we make early on are monumental in determining what will ultimately happen to our books and our careers.” Wise words, followed by equally wise specifics and advice.

A few caveats: I don’t necessarily agree with *every* bit of advice offered here. Wright’s approach to using Facebook, for instance, is quite different from mine. I suspect that her discussion of low-residency MFA programs relies too heavily on her familiarity with the program at Queens: It is questionable, to say that least, that “usually” these programs pair each student “with an instructor and a few other students” with “classes continu[ing] to be conducted online.” The emphasis on writing colonies and lengthy retreats may make some of us jealous and others frustrated: Even if I were to win a residency in the near future, it’s hard to imagine sufficient time off from my “day job” to permit me to connect two discrete retreat moments with a sentence that begins “Fast forward three weeks….” Finally, I was surprised by the proofreading misses here, including the back cover’s promise of “sound council on how writers can persevere”; the “council” error recurs throughout the book.

But those are minor issues. The book overall is a highly readable and informative guide to exactly what it promise to cover: navigating the world of publishing. I recommend it.

*My thanks to Press53 for the complimentary review copy.*
(This review appeared initially in The Practicing Writer.)
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