When I saw the book How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead by Ariel Gore, I picked it up, wondering if, as an aspiring novelist, it would be of any help to me. I've read a lot of books on writing, so I'm a little on the picky side when choosing one to read. I've also read plenty of books about the publication process and am getting a little tired of them. What I really wanted was a book that would help me improve my chances of getting published, other than having an error-proof manuscript and publicizing the book once it's been published. I glanced through Gore's book, and though nothing really jumped out at me, I decided to give it a chance.
This book has a lot of the elements most books about writing have, from interviews with other writers to quotes. One of the main differences is that it does a general sweep of the entire publishing industry. The parts where I was most familiar with the subject material—like how to write a query letter or watching out for the "to be" verb—I was bored. But I will admit that she makes some good and new points even in these familiar areas. And Gore did meet my needs throughout a great deal of the book. She gave me some ideas on how to further improve my chances of getting published—by writing a zine (a small, self-published magazine)—and how and when to approach an author for an endorsement that will entice an agent or editor into requesting my manuscript.
One of the things I really like about this book is that although the chapters are a minimum of 43 pages long, they are separated into several subsections that allowed me to stop reading almost every page if it became necessary. I also like how Gore brings up things I've never seen discussed in a book before, from the poor-man's copyright to tax deductions. Gore did a great job giving her readers an idea of certain aspects of writing without going into too much detail. I did find the journalistic perspective interesting, mainly because of the differing opinions from the people Gore interviewed.
How to be a Famous Writer Before You're Dead would be a good introductory book for novice novelists.