I originally published this blog post a while ago. I've republished it here because I thought it would fit in very nicely to the Bad Writing series. Enjoy (or cringe).
There are plenty of books and blogs with information about how to pitch your book idea to a a publisher. This one takes the opposite approach: it shows you what not to say to a publisher.
There's something strangely reassuring about reading a book like this, as long as you haven't made similar embarassing mistakes: no matter how bad you are at pitching, it could hardly be worse than this lot.
Some themes start to emerge as you wince your way through the pages. For example, many writers seem to think it's a selling point to say they have no experience of writing at all.
In other cases, what starts out sounding like an interesting idea ends up as some sort of all-embracing panacea for everything.
And other ideas are just plain weird.
After a while, I started to feel a bit guilty reading these valiant but ill-fated attempts to get published. I don't like the idea of laughing at people, and that's exactly what this book seems to do. On the other hand, there is enough advice out there for nobody to have to make such elementary errors.
If you're not sure about how to make a good impression on a would-be publisher, then this book will help you to avoid making a bad one. Regard it as fulfilling a similar function to How not to write a novel. (Affiliate link.)
To buy the book from Amazon, click the link below. Please note that this is an affiliate link.
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Should there be courses on badly-written books and articles?
People should say what they mean. One way of doing so would be to use the correct word. Another way would be to use objective facts rather than subjective value judgements.
Gratuitous swearing usually adds nothing to a piece of writing or a talk. It’s unpleasant to listen to, and probably has unfortunate consequences for the offender.
So you think you've read some atrocious writing in your life? Well, you ain't seen nothing yet.
If your initial pitch to an editor is not well-researched or well-written, you won't even make it to square one with that publication or publisher. What are the common errors, and where can you find examples of bad practice?
How should you pitch a publisher with your book proposal? Or, to look at this another way, how should you not do so? This book answers that question.
Even if you are a non-fiction writer, this book is worth reading.
Another article in the 'bad writing' series, 7 Features of Bad Writing suggests some common characteristics of poor prose. Any one of these 'sins' would serve as an indicator, especially if they occur more than once or twice.
This book may be thirty years old, but its advice is still pertinent. If you want to have a blitz or crackdown against, or shake-up of, bad writing (all examples of 'tabloidese'), then this is the book for you.
Why do some writers write badly?