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“What a book-lover’s fantasy! To see behind the making and launching of eleven diverse books, to hear stories of first and last drafts, of book tours and artist residencies, of publicity letdowns and bolts out of the blue—in short, tales of struggle, success, hard work, and luck, all told with Jones’s keen eye toward craft—what a generous gift to the aspiring writer!
The joy of this book is not to push a single path to publication, but to celebrate the endless variety such paths might take. Showing how we get our stories, real or imagined, into the world is this book’s unique gift—and that’s a proposition that feels particularly urgent in these tumultuous times.”
— Edward McPherson, author of The History of the Future: American Essays
“An indispensable tool for writers eager to peek behind the curtain and learn about the realities of writing and publishing. Myths and mysteries about being an ‘author’ abound, and this book shines a bright light on it all. Full of valuable nuggets, Behind the Book draws on real-life stories as well as the wisdom of the very best writing guides to reveal an empowering truth: There’s no one path to publishing success.”
— Katrin Schumann, cofounder of GrubStreet’s Launch Lab and author of The Secret Power of Middle Children
Every book has a story of its own, a path leading from the initial idea that sparked it to its emergence into the world in published form. No two books follow quite the same path, but all are shaped by a similar array of market forces and writing craft concerns as well as by a cast of characters stretching beyond the author.
Behind the Book explores how eleven contemporary first-time authors, in genres ranging from post-apocalyptic fiction to young adult fantasy to travel memoir, navigated these pathways with their debut works.
Based on extensive interviews with the authors, it covers the process of writing and publishing a book from beginning to end, including idea generation, developing a process, building a support network, revising the manuscript, finding the right approach to publication, building awareness, and ultimately moving on to the next project.
Behind the Book also includes insights from editors, agents, publishers, and others who helped to bring these projects to life.
Unlike other books on writing craft, it looks at the larger picture of how an author’s work and choices can affect the outcome of a project.
The authors profiled in each story open up about their challenges, mistakes, and successes. While their paths to publication may be unique, together they offer important lessons that authors of all types can apply to their own writing journeys.
Table of Contents
The Brief Lineup
The Ignored Question: How
1: Sparks of Story
2: Processing Process
3: Sources of Support
4: Craft Quandaries
5: Thorough Themes
6: Reviewing Revision
7: Publishing Paths
8: Setbacks and Perseverance
9: Preparing to Publish
10: The Book in the World
11: Lessons Learned
Appendix: The Complete Lineup
Pages: 224, with 11 halftones
Published: March 23, 2018
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Dimensions: 9" inches H x 6" inches W x .50" inches D
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Mackenzie Jones has spent the past eight years working at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, one of the largest and most respected literary arts centers in the country.
In his time at the Loft, he has met numerous aspiring and successful writers, and he believes that all writers can learn valuable lessons through example, which is why he wrote the book.
Chris is also a published poet and received his MFA from the University of Florida in Gainesville. He lives in Saint Paul.