Tag s | Book Review

Criticism Is an Unhappy Part of the Business

Let me tell you about a rather interesting day. I spent an entire morning going through my unsolicited proposals in-box. I marked them all for my assistant to send fairly standard email rejection letters, since none were anything our agency could/would handle.

Very soon I received three separate responses via email:

(1) Criticized me for sending an impersonal note, saying they spent considerable time with the proposal and the least I could do was give a corresponding critique. Never mind that the writer failed to follow the guidelines on the site he claimed to have read.

(2) Wrote me to say, “I consider it a disgrace that any American would ignore this story, particularly a man with access to our Christian media outlets who calls himself my ‘brother in the Lord.’ You must not be a prayer warrior, Mr. Laube, because if you were, He’d have guided you as He has me in this decision. Therefore, I wouldn’t want you handling this book.”

(3) Wrote a one word, very personal, extremely vulgar adjective in reply to my rejection letter.

All in one afternoon. So you see, even the agent side of the business receives its share of criticism that is ill-founded, ignorant, and inappropriate.

Next time a critic gives you a negative book review or an editor sends you a sixteen-page, single-spaced, scourging of your manuscript. remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Your response will determine much about your success as a writer. One of our clients claims that the one thing a writer needs to develop, in order to survive this profession, is a thick skin.

How do you respond to critics?

 

[A previous version of this post ran in early March 2011.]

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How to Write Better Novels

The Christian Writers Institute is excited to announce a new book by Kathy Tyers called, Writing Deep Viewpoint: Invite Your Readers Into Your Story. (releasing July 14th.) It is one of few fiction craft books to explore the topic of writing the deep point-of-view. Here is what bestselling author Davis …

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A Ghostwriting Masterpiece

The Christian Writers Institute has just released a marvelous book by Cec Murphey, Ghostwriting: the Murphey Method. It is a wonderful look behind the scenes in how so many bestselling books are created. Cec is the writer who helped craft many bestselling books including Gifted Hands by Ben Carson and 90 Minutes in …

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My Most Frequently Used Reference Book

by Steve Laube After pulling down this book from my shelf twice this past week I realized there is no other reference book I use more frequently. The book? The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. I prefer it over Roget’s Thesaurus because it is laid out logically – in alphabetical order. …

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Stories in Hiding Places

Since I blog on Tuesdays and the next April 15 to fall on a Tuesday is not for another eleven years, I felt like I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Corrie ten Boom was born on this date in 1892 and died on this date in 1983.  If Evangelicals were …

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Why Did I Keep Reading?

As I believe I’ve mentioned on this blog, along with Christian books, I try to keep abreast of general market books. But I admit, I don’t always finish reading the books I begin reading. So what makes me stick with a book from cover to cover? Here’s just one example for nonfiction:

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune  by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. 

Why did I stay with this book while abandoning other books that may have been just as worthwhile or perhaps even better? Here’s why:

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A New Book by C.S. Lewis!

by Steve Laube

If you want the perfect gift for the bibliophile in your life consider this new book from C. S. Lewis called Image and Imagination (under $20 in paperback). To quote the description from the Cambridge University Press site:

This selection from the writings of C. S. Lewis gathers together forty book reviews, never before reprinted, as well as four major essays which have been unavailable for many decades. A fifth essay, ‘Image and Imagination’, is published for the first time.

Included are his reviews of Tolkien’s Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

But the crowning jewel is the 20 page essay “Image and Imagination.” This unpublished piece was found handwritten in a ruled notebook used by Lewis for his early drafts. Walter Hooper, who compiled this book, suggests that the essay was originally intended for but never sent to T.S. Eliot’s journal The Criterion in 1931. It is a rather dense exploration of ideas which, like much of Lewis’ academic work, demands much concentration of the reader.

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What Did You Read This Summer?

by Steve Laube

In 1957 H.L. Mencken coined a new word to describe a group of people which he called the bibliobibuli, which means “People who read too much.” (From the Greek “biblio”, meaning books, and the Latin “bibulous”, from “bibere”, to drink.)

But how much is too much? And who decides that? I happen to believe that there is always room for more. I was once asked what I did for a living. I answered, “I read.” They followed up with the question, “What do you do for fun?” I smiled and said, “I read.” It is both a privilege and a blessing to work with so many gifted authors and to be immersed in their ideas every day.

But there are tons of books I read outside of work. When thinking about the variety of books I read these past few months it became a fun exercise so I decided to describe a few of them below. I have intentionally avoided books by clients or other prospective authors.

Non-Fiction
As mentioned in an earlier post I teach the Bible in a small class every Sunday morning of about 20 people. Last week we completed our eight month journey through the Apocrypha and the history of the Western world during the 400 years between the book of Malachi and the book of Matthew. As part of my research I was able to finish working through:

The Anchor Bible Commentaries on both 1 & 2 Maccabees by Jonathan A. Goldstein (1,200 pages of extraordinary scholarship). The World of Jesus by Dr. William H. Marty (highly recommended introductory material, especially on Rome and Herod).
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Back to School for You

by Steve Laube

I’m of the generation that remembers the day after Labor Day being the first day of school. But no more. All through August kids of all ages have been headed back to the classroom. When our daughters were in Marching Band they had rehearsals on the field twice a day, starting two weeks before school began…which put their practices into the month of July…in Phoenix….where it was 114 degrees yesterday.

But while you may be past having to go to school you should still have a learning mindset. We all need to be open to new ideas and expand our understanding of the world around us. For writers, agents, and editors it may mean going to a writers conference or it could mean some self-study by reading something about this industry. Let me suggest a few books that could do the trick.

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