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GWD Review
November, 2003

The Successful Writer´s Handbook
Patricia L. Fry
Matilija Press
Trade Paper
Writing Book
179 pages
ISBN: 09612642-7-6
Rating: 3 1/2 pens

Originally published last year as an ebook, this nifty handbook was so well received that Patricia Fry revised and expanded her work for paperback form.  She´s written several articles on writing for places such as Writer´s Digest, and has several books on the subject in we know she has to have a pretty good grasp on the subject.  It´s not until we delve into the book that we have proof.  If, when you were in school, you ever used a highlighter on your books, or, even if you´re like me and hate to deface books in such a manner, you might want to pull out the highlighter.  Seriously...while I was reading I´d come across websites and other information that looked so good I had to go turn on the computer and check it out.  So a highlighter might allow you to read the book in peace, or at least save you a few steps.  True, her focus is on non-fiction, but there are tips for writers of all kinds.
The book begins with how to establish yourself as a writer.  Making a commitment to becoming a writer, being professional, finding work, writing at home, and curing writers block are all things she thoroughly discusses in her first chapter.  I particularly liked her advice on writer´s block...who would have thought, for instance, that boosting your self esteem would help over come such a debilitating thing?
The next two chapters concern themselves more with the actual article writing process, query letter etiquette, getting ideas, finding niche markets to write for, how to use experiences to create articles.  Her advice on how to not get stuck just waiting around and how to be continuously productive are especially good.
Chapter four is called "Get Published Now," something that all writers would like to do.  Her discussions on how to write a book proposal, in particular, show that a proposal can be key in making the book come together in your mind before you even write it.  Should, of course, you decide that you don´t want to publish through a usual publisher, she also commits a chapter to self publishing.  The timeline she includes, as well as the pros and cons of self publishing, are particularly useful.
Now, we get to my favorite part...promoting the work.  These sections include a wonderful selection of ideas and resources.  There´s a link to a website that provides seasonal data to help you find other times, such as special holidays, that your book might fit into;  arranging with other, like authors to promote together; and book store signings.  I also liked the promotional photograph has a lot of very sensible advice I think all writers need to see.  
If you didn´t think networking beyond a bit of internetting and communication was important, then her chapter on these subjects will definitely change your mind.  Conducting successful interviews, why you need other writers and honing your own communication skills are topics she discusses.
The next two chapters deal with the business aspects of writing, and give great advice on book keeping, but for those of us who don´t believe the news that the economy is doing well, her tips on recession proofing will definitely come in handy.  Chapter eleven is a lot of fun because it talks about something that a lot of books tend to ignore...that taking care of oneself, from eating right to gardening, is also important.  
Her final chapter is a useful index filled with more links and books.
I am pleasantly surprised, because having obsessed over the whole writing thing for so long, I was interested, but not certain, that I´d learn much from this book, but I did.  I especially liked the latter half of the book, where it passes the beginner's writing part and gets to how o market and promote.  Definitely a good buy for those of us who are hoping to become, not just a writer, but a successful one.
Three  and a half out of five pens.
Cindy Lynn Speer, GWN Review

The Successful Writer's Handbook

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