Have you ever written a book review?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Speaking of (Potential) Authors (Part 2b of 5)

I have received a tremendous amount of feedback about my ongoing series of posts on manuscript submission. Thank you, keep it coming, and I am heartened that many find the posts helpful.

Larry Tagg, whose book The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America's Most Reviled President will be published later this Spring by Savas Beatie (you can watch and listen to Larry talk about his completely unique approach to Lincoln here:), left a very perceptive comment a few hours ago I wanted to discuss briefly. Here is Larry's observation:

I used to run into the same problem with songwriters who sent me their work to critique. As soon as I offered a real criticism, they got huffy and recoiled. Sorry to say, it's the mark of someone who is destined to remain an amateur.

Larry knows of what he speaks. He was the "Tagg" of Bourgeois Tagg, the hit band of the late 1980s. This was probably their most timeless hit (and my favorite): I Don't Mind At All. Yes, THAT song.

A lesson I learned (sometimes the hard way) was that if I was going to excel at something, I would have to put my pride on the shelf, be it baseball (my love of the game exceeded my throwing arm), classical piano, practicing law, writing history, or publishing books. My mom encouraged me from a young age to find people who excelled at what I wanted to do, and learn what they did and how they did it. "But don't just listen to what they tell you," she continued, "HEAR what they tell you and welcome it."

This bit of universal truth aptly applies to writing (and getting published). Follow the rules, listen to what others who have carved out successful writing avocations or careers tell you, and learn from it. Heed it. Thank them. And be thankful.

Or, as the song goes . . . you will be "...destined to remain an amateur."

Thanks Larry.



Anonymous said...

Having worked as a "writing coach' with authors trying to get their manuscripts published, the first thing I'd ask:

"Are you determined to be a writer or have you already written?"

Those who had "already written" are still seeking a publisher.


J. David Petruzzi said...

Amen to that last comment. Writing is an avocation in which you're always learning. Just when you think you know it all, you reveal how much you actually don't.

Being a writer is something I must always STRIVE for, but never accomplish. No matter how many of my book see the light of day.

J.D. Petruzzi

Anonymous said...

Beyond command of and respect for the language, the writer must find his or her THERE, that unique community in the universe whose Creator is the writer alone.

Take us to your THERE and tell us a new truth.

Anything less is typing.

"Go on again with fresh courage,"

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tagg's book on Lincoln sounds really interesting. I watched his Youtube presentation and it was fun to listen to. I have read quite a few Lincoln books, and am now of the conclusion that Mr. Tagg might be onto something here. I guess my only question is why hasn't someone done this sort of research on Lincoln before? I ordered the book on Amazon this afternoon. Wish it was coming out next week.

Am I the only person alive that thought Doris K. Goodwin's book Team of Rivals was not everything it was cracked up to be?


Anonymous said...

The keys to what make a manuscript special is neither 'well-written' or 'interesting,' but SEPARATION and FIT.

Mr. Tagg 'boldly went where no historian has gone before,' separating his book from all others.

As for Goodwin's Team of Rivals, it FIT, for better or worse, into the political startegy of the new administration. Not just a history, but also a 21st parable.

SEPARATION and FIT make history more than worth the price of reading it.


Harry said...

Damn, never knew that about Larry. I'll add this to the short list of 80's rockers who have turned their interest in the CW to commercial pursuits - David Kincaid, who records new and period Irish CW tunes, was - and is still - the front man for The Brandos.

Larry Tagg said...

Thanks to Ted, and to the above gents for their excellent comments. It's always nice to be part a good conversation.