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Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream
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Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  355 ratings  ·  43 reviews
In Your First Novel, novelist Laura Whitcomb and seasoned literary agent Ann Rittenberg team up to provide you with the skills you need to write your dream novel and the savvy business know-how to get it published. In this all-in-one resource, you'll discover essential novel-writing techniques, such as:

How to best structure your research so that you can save time later
Paperback, 297 pages
Published September 8th 2006 by Writer's Digest Books (first published August 25th 2006)
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  355 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Dennis Lehane is winningly honest as he dishes out tough love in his inspiring foreword, leading into the first half of the book (written by novelist Laura Whitcomb) which focuses on the craft of novel writing and is filled with helpful hints, book recommendations, and exercises.

The second half of the book (written by agent Ann Rittenberg) focuses on the business side of publishing your novel. I devoured this section. Even though I had what I thought was a clear understanding of how things work
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't know if it's even possible to become a published author without the information in this book.
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Sarai by: Amazon
Shelves: howto-research
I did not find this book as helpful as the last one. I did enjoy the last half of the book that is written by an agent on what they expect and what a writer's job is. They had some good points the first half is written by a published author and she gave the typical show don't tell speeches. If you are going to look at this book look at the last half. There are pleanty of other books out there that would help with characterization and what not.
Vivian Wolkoff
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This would have been a lot more useful if I were brand-new to writing and publishing. There's good information here and resources at the end of each chapter to help writers. You have an author in the "writing guide section" and an agent in the "publishing section" - which I thought was a great idea.

The problem for me is that most of the information in both sections is commonplace. You can find the same info in other writing guides as well as author blogs out there... and, sometimes, these other
Jun 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I've started reading this book, tidbits from different chapters, and I can't wait to finish reading it. Truly. And I can't stand reading nonfiction books. So that's saying something!

After reading this book, I wish that the second half written by the agent, Ann Rittenberg, could be a separate book in and of itself. That book would get a good 3 stars, if not more. But the first half of the book written by Laura Whitcomb was as elementary as a freshman year of high school English class. I am hoping
Matt Murphy
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I've spent hundreds of dollars on dozens of books designed to teach aspiring authors the craft. Most of the books sing the same song and at the end the reader realizes he's just wasted many hours of valuable time that could have been spent practicing the craft or reading worthwhile prose.

Despite the dozens of writing-related books it recommends throughout the book, Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream is the only book on writing you need. It shows, not t
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Having thrown enough first novels away to start an insulation business with all the wasted paper, I decided it might be worth thinking about the process of writing a novel before I start another. From "listening for the idea" through carding the scenes to character development and plot, the book has changed the way I think about the process and inspired me with more confidence. Writing a novel is no longer a source of anxiety but a prospect for lengthy and involved pleasure. Still equally unlike ...more
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any aspiring writers
Recommended to Amelia by: my father
Shelves: best-books-ever, own
The greatest book to read if you're looking to write a book. While most books along these "helping" lines are stiff and mostly remind you of your most boring college professor, this book gets up close and personal, skipping around the soft edges and going straight for the hard core. You will not be able to hide from your own fears while reading this book. It offers sound advice from my most favored author.
Thoughtful Black Girl
As of December 13, this is my review of the first part that deals with the actual writing. The first part of this book wasn't what I was expecting at all. It told you tips and gave you different activities you could do but it didn't really go into depth. Instead, they would put other books at the end of the chapters that addressed it. So this book is a great beginning for people to get a general idea of writing a good book.
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
All you need to know to go about writing your first novel from the author of 'A Certain Slant of Light' and 'The Fetch'. From what and how to write, to picking an agent and to getting published. It's not a riveting read but it has all you need to know and having read it I now realise how hard writing a novel, or at least a good one, must be!
This was a great guide to writing a novel. Even if it's not your first novel, I still recommend this book for great tips. The first half of the book is about writing your novel, the second half is about getting it published. Great wealth of information!
Christine Grabowski
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I wish I had read this 3 years when I was just beginning my first novel. It touches on almost every area of your writing. But now, three years in, most of it is a little basic as I'm ready to drill deeper into each particular subject like character and dialogue. But those types of books would be too overwhelming and detailed for a beginner.
Allison Jensen
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! I go back to it constantly, even though I don't feel like there is much I can still learn from it. I would absolutely recommend it for anyone who dreams of being a published author and even for those who dream of being a well-known fan-fiction author.
Richard Conrath
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ann Rittenberg has written an excellent book for the novice writer. Some great tips in finding an agent and what to look for in an agent once you've identified her. I am still reading the book--focusing now on the second half. It's worth the price of purchase.
Eva Nieves
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Super helpful withe publishing part but really broad about the writing process.
Nagi Colella
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es una excelente guía para escritores noveles, con ideas y soluciones súper interesantes.
Katie Tillwick
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
Love the further reading suggestions at the end of each chapter.
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Why didn’t I read this when I started my novel???

This book consists of two parts. The first half is devoted to writing your novel and the second half to publishing it.

The first half is a wealth of information on everything from plot to character to memorable detail. There is a good mixture of insights about writing, high level or step-by-step advice, and exercises to help you work towards your goal. Whitcomb also offers buckets of examples from published works and theoretical stories that get yo
Kate Conroy
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have to say that in 2006, this book might have been good. I was only 11 years old in 2006, so I don’t know how predictable the upcoming technology boom was, but I think these authors chose a very poor time to write this book. It took me back to having to write essays in cursive with a black or blue pen back in middle school, before everything was done on computers. The publishing half of this book goes on and on about the ways to mail copies of your manuscript, but none of that is relevant any ...more
Meghan Mathew
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reading the book is actually a forced task for me. I bought it, read a few pages, highlighted a few things, and then didn't touch it for about 12 months. Finally, the process of moving into a new place made me realize that I shouldn't own books I haven't read. It was a new principle and I started with this book.

The first section written by Laura Whitcomb is insightful. It provides a lot of information for those who know nothing. It opens up worlds of information and techniques which if practiced
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
While the Craft section has basically what you can find in any other craft book, it does have quite a few good 'I'm stuck' exercises, and it's organized in a very nice way. There's definitely things I learned there.

What makes this really shine though is the Agent section. For anyone who is clueless in what to do once you've written the darn novel, this is essential. Rittenburg is very honest about the amount of work that goes into publishing a book, without making the process completely paralyzi
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
The book is split into two halves, with ten chapters each on writing and publishing.

The publishing chapters cover a lot of information, both thorough and practical. The writing chapters bugged me.

Imagine the most fervent NaNoWriMo advocate ever, hopped up on a rush from reading The Secret, and that's what it's like. If that sounds like it would work for you, have at it.

(She never actually mentions National Novel Writing Month, but she does mention the 3 day novel writing challenge.)

Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
The first half of the book didn't have any new advice for me. It was written for someone who has not written much and has not had any formal training in creative writing.

The second half, however, was very helpful. We'll find out how helpful as I work on moving my novel from "finished" to "published." There was good, hard tacks, direct information about query letters, contracts, and marketing.
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely one of the best books I've read on this subject. An author and her agent wrote the book together and the two different perspectives provide invaluable information and guidance on the world of writing and publishing. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this subject.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
Interesting in some places, obvious in others. Let's be honest, reading a book like this is not as useful as sitting down and writing. I did not read all of the getting published stuff in depth. Perhaps there are golden jewels of guidance there. This was recommended to me by CJ Box.
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Bought this for my daughter last year, and like everyone else in my house, she leaves her books lying all over. I happened to pick it up and was completely engrossed by Dennis Lehane's introduction. I doubt I'll ever write a novel, but it's interesting to see what the enterprise might require.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The first half of this book on writing a good novel is good, but I'd recommend Donald Maass's books for that. However, I give it 5 starts for the sheer amount of new information on the querying/publishing business that makes up the second half.
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is my favorite. Part one is by a published author and covers the ground work for manuscript creation. Part Two is by an agent and runs one through the entire process from query to the day after your novel hits the shelves. Haven't read another one like it.
Oct 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have been quite surprised at the useful information provided by this author. Not only have I found good tips for writing a novel, and am using them, I have found other good resources on the subject. Great book and easy to read and understand.
Dalton Lynne
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely one of the best books I've read on this subject. An author and her agent wrote the book together and the two different perspectives provide invaluable information and guidance on the world of writing and publishing. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this subject.
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