The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks

The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440353680
Publisher: F+W Media
Publication date: 08/21/2018
Pages: 268
Sales rank: 149,305
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Susan Shapiro is the New York Times bestselling author/coauthor of 12 books including Lighting Up , Unhooked , and Five Men Who Broke My Heart. Her work has been published in the New York Times , Washington Post , WSJ and New York Magazine and more. You can follow her on Twitter at @susanshapironet or on Instagram on @profsue123.

Read an Excerpt


Where to Start


The best way to break into publishing is with a great three-page double-spaced personal essay.

There's nothing more engaging than an intimate tale told with insight, humor, or candor. That explains the acclaim of such anthologies as The Best American Essays, moving first-person forums like The New York Times' "Modern Love" column and podcast, NPR's popular This American Life, and all the memoirs on nonfiction best-selling book lists — often sprung from one essay. Unfortunately, not all first-person narratives are as compelling for the editor and audience as they are for the author. Still, there's no reason you can't turn your private experiences into wise, eloquent, and publishable prose.

Early in my career, I sold short, provocative pieces to women's magazines about relationships, family, and work problems. Coming from a confessional poetry background, I knew that a surface-level appreciation of one's mate, parents, or children would not lead to brilliance. Love letters and light slices of life rarely engendered profundity. Showing off how great you are is superficial and will make readers hate and resent you. Writing usually becomes much richer when you focus on your vulnerability and explore your regrets and struggles. Think in extremes: the night that changed your life, the lover who shattered your heart, the embarrassing addiction you couldn't get over. Trying to tackle unfinished, messy, and uncomfortable conflicts led me to authentic, meaty subjects and often a cathartic release, not to mention money, success, and acclaim.


The most frequent mistake newcomers to nonfiction make is to pick a subject that's lackluster, self-congratulatory, or just a diary-like rendering of something mundane they went through. Sorry, but no editors I know want to publish a piece about how cute your cats, gardenias, or grandchildren are. I know it's counterintuitive, but what makes you successful and lovable in real life might make you unlovable and unknowable on the pages of a short essay. So if you portray yourself as strong, wealthy, good-looking, and happily married, audiences might stop reading after the third line. I learned this the hard way when I first brought a piece into my writing workshop about an ex-boyfriend whose surprise visit rattled me.

"She comes off like a well-off, white, forty-year-old married woman with a good husband [but] who still has feelings for her old flame. I hate her guts," one critic told me.

I was hurt and confused by the negative response, since I was the "she" being critiqued. Clearly there was something wrong with the way I was telling my story. I wound up reorganizing the details and reframing the events, offering a deeper, more vulnerable context. In my revision, I confessed that I was going through difficult infertility treatments and rejections from a series of book editors my literary agent had contacted on my behalf. It was at this moment that the college beau who'd unceremoniously dumped me twenty years earlier showed up at my doorstep. To make the timing worse, he handed me a book he'd just published — though he'd been a biology major who used to tell me that my English degree was "worthless." I weaved in the humiliating events that had happened the day before my ex came over when I'd received two phone messages. In the first, my fertility doctor shared disappointing results of tests my husband and I had taken, proving it was unlikely I'd be able to get pregnant. In the next call, my agent informed me that five editors had rejected the novel I'd spent five years on.

"I felt like she was saying, 'The only baby you have is ugly and we don't want it,'" I wrote, holding back tears.

"Wow, you should have gotten old and bitter a long time ago, because this rocks," remarked the critic after she heard the new passages a week later. Indeed, that much more dark and vulnerable revised version of my essay wound up being published in Marie Claire magazine and launching a first memoir about all my horrific breakups: Five Men Who Broke My Heart.

After learning how important it was to express vulnerability on the page, I began my first feature journalism class by asking everyone to write a "humiliation essay," revealing their most embarrassing secret. I shared the basic, technical writing rules for the type of short nonfiction personal essays I'd had so much luck with.

1. Aim for 500–900 words, around three double-spaced typed pages, the most likely length an editor will publish fast by a new scribe. Not 3,500 words. Stick to the word count.

2. Put everything in New York Times formAt, which most publications use. You can buy their style manual, or just pick up their Sunday newspaper and emulate the way they title every piece, put bylines under those titles, and indent for each new paragraph and line of dialogue.

3. PICK A STORY THAT YOU CAN PUT YOUR REAL NAME on.The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine, and others will not allow you to use a pseudonym (though a few women's and men's magazines might allow you to use a maiden name or "anonymous").

4. DON'T USE FAKE NAMES FOR THE OTHERS, which many editors will also not allow in nonfiction. To avoid specific monikers, try using labels like "my old best friend," "my former flame," "my ex-girlfriend," "my relatives," and/or using pronouns throughout. Sometimes you can get away with saying, "My ex, let's just call him Pete," as long as you indicate to the reader and editor you're making a change. Or you can use real nicknames or labels you make up, as I did in my memoir (about Mr. Studrocket, Beach Boy, Root Canal, Hamlet, and The Biographer).

5. SHARE YOUR BACKGROUND AND ETHNICITY so people can picture, relate, and like you. You're familiar with your family lineage, background, and physical looks. But your photograph or bio won't necessarily accompany your pages. So describe yourself with unique, idiosyncratic details. My student Saba Ali began her first New York Times piece: "Born in Kenya of Indian heritage, I came to the United States at age six, settling with my family in upstate New York, growing up Muslim in suburban America." Include specific religious, ethnic, cultural, and class conflicts, especially since multiculturalism is hot.

6. focus on one current scene or one Problem in Adulthood. Since most editors are over eighteen, it is much harder to publish a piece about childhood, though strategic flashbacks later in the piece can work.

7. Show, Don't Tell. Use very specific, fleshed-out details, including dialogue, external settings, and physical descriptions. Some novice writers think staying general is more universal, but it's just the opposite.

8. DON'T OVERLOAD THE READER WITH BACKSTORY or expository facts that ruin the momentum. Nobody wants to read "then-this-happened-then-that-happened." Playwright David Mamet says only three things are relevant to drama: Who wants what from whom? What happens if they don't get it? Why now? Make sure you answer those questions on your first page. If you need to, you can subtly weave in important background details later.

9. DON'T LIE. In nonfiction, you can't make things up. While you can exaggerate a little or re-create dialogue from the best of your ability, you can't make up stories, actions, or characters. Everything you write has to have really happened. Some editors work with fact-checkers or will Google you to test your veracity. The New York Times' "Modern Love" editor often shows a piece to the ex-spouse, mother, or brother in the story to double-check the essay's accuracy.

10. GATHER PROOF. Just in case an editor, fact-checker, or book publishing lawyer asks in the future, keep your old diaries, letters, and photo albums. Ask if you can tape conversations with loved ones (several ex-boyfriends surprisingly agreed when I interviewed them for my first memoir). File printed-out e-mails and texts, as many journalists do. In order for someone to win a lawsuit against you in nonfiction, he'd have to prove you lied, with malice intended, and show damages. So keep any evidence that shows you're telling the truth.

11. CLARIFY YOUR EMOTIONAL ARC. There's a saying you should "start in delight, end in wisdom." Though I can also understand the Seinfeldian rule "no hugging, no learning," you certainly don't want to start angry and end angry. Something has to be resolved or changed from your first line to your last. What did you learn or have to unlearn? What did this occurrence teach you? How can this experience help others? In my New York Times Magazine essay "The Bride Wore White — and Black," I was proud to wear all black to my cool, bohemian wedding, shunning convention. I concluded with the second ceremony, where I wore a white dress, with a rabbi and cantor, and we married all over again, for my mother, realizing it was worth it to make her happy.

12. DON'T START BY GIVING AWAY YOUR END. While provocation can get attention, if you confess "We broke up and then my first love died" right away, why would we keep reading? Add suspense, intrigue, mystery, or counterintuitive irony. Let your last line contain a big surprise.

During the second week of that initial class, my students turned in chronicles of their bad breakups, addictions, illnesses, and domestic fissures, as well as assaults, racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and trouble with their families, bosses, and the law. I was so blown away by all of the brave, beautiful, and distinctive and dramatic essays they handed in — and later, by how many of those wound up published — that it soon became my signature assignment. It's tough to argue with stellar results. Over the last twenty-five years, this exact prompt has led to thousands of wise, well-crafted first bylines for my students. (Many I'll quote and offer links to throughout this book to make them easier to look up and read.)

While some critics find confessional writing to be self-indulgent, editors of almost every newspaper, magazine, webzine, and book publisher buy them constantly. That's because audiences love to read personal writing, the most popular of all types of pieces. Best-seller book lists show millions of memoirs sold every year. The chance to get paid for a big byline has been dwindling — along with newspaper and magazine pages. Writing the "humiliation essay" is one of the best ways to beat the odds and break in.

Your first idea may not be your best one. So write a list of several topics you might consider. My student Sarah Herrington, a yoga teacher, at first complained, "But I don't have anything humiliating to write about." After hearing the other students' ideas she came up with: "Teaching a kids' yoga class, a little girl had a panic attack. I helped her through it since I'd had panic attacks myself." That wound up in The New York Times, the first of a long series of revealing essays Sarah went on to publish. Here's the advice I give my classes when it comes to figuring out good essay topics for my infamous humiliation essay assignment.

1. LEAD THE LEAST SECRETIVE LIFE YOU CAN (without getting sued, divorced, disowned, killed, or arrested).

2. EXPLORE YOUR WORST ADDICTIONS OR OBSESSIONS THAT YOU CAN PUT YOUR NAME ON. Pick a subject you find enthralling or that you have expertise on, especially if it's in the news or permeating current culture. My only students who've published pieces about the Iraq, Afghanistan, or Vietnam wars have been veterans, military spouses, or children of vets. Conversely, pupils have aced essays on being addicted to buying makeup at an all-night Duane Reade drugstore, getting tested for HIV, and firing a nanny after reading her X-rated blog. Don't worry if the subject is small compared to world events. You'll bring a theatrical freshness to what fascinates you.

3. FOCUS ON DRAMA, CONFLICT, AND TENSION. Don't write an idealistic appreciation of your spouse, parents, or children. Confront unresolved emotional issues about something that's bothering you. As writer Joan Didion said, "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking."

4. FAILURE IS FASCINATING. Do you remember losing an internship, job, lover, friendship, money, contest, or your pride? Go back there! An author friend suggests starting when you're about to fall off a cliff (literally or figuratively).

5. CUT TO THE CHASE. In a 900-word essay, there's no time to meander, explain your entire history, or include the highlights of your résumé. Be as blunt as you can about what your humiliation is. "In December, my husband stopped screwing me" was the first line of a piece I published in The New York Observer that led to a book deal. (Of course, I would not have sent that piece to The New York Times or The Christian Science Monitor. I chose The New York Observer — known for Candace Bushnell's "Sex and the City" column — because I knew they preferred very revealing first person.)

6. AVOID THE OBVIOUS. While being opinionated or sardonic is great, we already know that terrorism is bad, public schools need money, breakups hurt, and online dating can suck. Be counterintuitive, find idiosyncratic angles, play devil's advocate, twist clichés. When my student Rainbow Kirby explored her thirty-year-old boyfriend's living at home, she smartly began with the film Failure to Launch, which had just opened, and sold the flip side — the perks of dating a man residing with his folks — to Newsday. My protégée Amy Klein's New York Times' "Modern Love" column about being addicted to JDate ended with her missing her Internet stalker.

7. EDIT YOURSELF. Just because something really happened is never enough reason to write it. Much of life is boring. Try to get rid of the in-between actions, all tedious back-and-forth talk, and stage directions ("and then we went to the parking lot, got in the car, put on our seat belts, and turned on the engine"). Only include the most significant, fascinating beats to your story.

8. END AS A VICTOR, NOT A VICTIM. Personal essays must get personal. But even if you bravely revisit your worst struggles, acting victimized and reciting a litany of injustices inflicted on you is boring and cliché. Question, challenge, reveal, and trash yourself more than others. One colleague wrote about her ex-husband of twenty years who was an abusive alcoholic, listing all of his evils. When she admitted she knew he was a problem drinker after the first year, I suggested refocusing on why she stayed for nineteen more. Turned out her father was a drinker and her mother helped him give up the sauce — at age sixty. So that was her model for marriage. Her revision was a standout.

9. DON'T FORGET THE WISDOM. If you heard good advice, repeat it with attribution and share your own solutions to your problems. My favorite essays about quitting addictions include the nitty-gritty on how the writer nixed cigarettes, alcohol, heroin, pills, pot, rampant sex, shopping, or sugar. For example, I chronicled how, when I was going through nicotine withdrawal, my addiction specialist instructed my husband to hold me for one hour every night, without speaking, as we watched a TV show or film. That calmed me down and replaced my toxic habits with love.

10. REMEMBER, THE FIRST PIECE YOU WRITE THAT YOUR FAMILY HATES MEANS YOU'VE FOUND YOUR VOICE. (If you don't want to offend anyone, try writing a cookbook.)


Like Sarah Herrington, many of my students at first complained that they couldn't come up with any enthralling ideas. I could relate. I always feared my life was too boring to compete with such internationally acclaimed authors as Mary Karr, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Etgar Keret, Alison Bechdel, or A.M. Homes. After all, I was a straight white girl from Michigan who'd had stupid affairs and addictions. Moving to Manhattan, therapy helped me quit my toxic habits and I married someone nice. That was it. I'd become a workaholic who sat at the computer most of the day. My parents were not raging alcoholics. I wasn't adopted. I had no children. Nobody important in my childhood died on me. I wasn't a world traveler. I'd never been in a war, race riot, on food stamps, in the hospital more than overnight, divorced, or the subject of a fatwa. There were many other typical freelancers and teachers like me in the world. What could I possibly add to the cultural conversation?


Excerpted from "The Byline Bible"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Susan Shapiro.
Excerpted by permission of F+W Media, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Dedication, iii,
Foreword by Peter Catapano, 1,
Introduction, 5,
Chapter 1 Where to Start ASSIGNMENT #1, 13,
Chapter 2 The Joy of Getting Killed, 92,
Chapter 3 Finding Your Essay a Home, 102,
Chapter 4 Under Cover, 108,
Chapter 5 After Yes: Now What?, 134,
Chapter 6 Writing Regional ASSIGNMENT #2, 146,
Chapter 7 It's My Opinion Assignment #3, 173,
Chapter 8 Selling Short Humor Assignment #4, 201,
Chapter 9 Secret Service Assignment #5, 223,
Chapter 10 Pitch vs. Writing, 249,
Glossary, 258,
Acknowledgments, 262,
About the Author, 264,
Index, 265,

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The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
CrimeDoc More than 1 year ago
Both Enjoyable AND Useful at the Same Time! I read the "sneak peak" of "The Byline Bible" and immediately wanted to head to New York and enroll in Sue Shapiro's writing class! I am an academic and university professor myself and can COMPLETELY relate to Ms Shapiro's dismay in being told to assign students long and boring "term papers" instead of teaching students how to write stuff that people want to read! That's how I was trained, and it's NOT what I want for my own students. Writing is an essential skill in almost any profession but the practicalities of writing for publication is equally important. This book is full of practical and truly useful advice. I really wish I could have read this guide when I first started writing and will definitely be reading it now.
desdemona1 More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book to give a writer the path to publishing a non fiction piece of work. It very clearly begins with a humorous dialogue to engage the reader & lays out exactly what is needed to help the reader maneuver through the twists and turns of publishing an original manuscript. In a world of documentation, history, & screening of fact from fiction, the reader will be taken to the answers of who will be responsible to pay for publishing, how to introduce oneself to publishers, and how to accept a rejection letter and move forward with positive feedback. The Byline Bible by Susan Shapiro is appropriate for all ages of writers & students of writing to use as a guideline to becoming published.
DLS 11 months ago
For those looking to break into esteemed newspapers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and others, Susan Shapiro’s The Byline Bible completely demystifies the process. This to-the-point book is packed with advice from Shapiro, who has taught many thousands of students how to write, and then how to grab an editor’s attention. In addition to information about what editors are looking for (and why), The Byline Bible is packed with a wide selection of essays and articles, her own and those of her students, that found a home in the most respected newspapers. By the time I finished the book, I felt I’d seen behind the curtain of publishing, and felt prepared—excited, even—to approach the editors of periodicals that in the past had intimidated me or that I believed were off limits to an “ordinary freelancer” like me. Shapiro goes a long way toward taking away the anxiety of submitting, by handing over the proper tools with generosity and encouragement.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Some people need things spelled out for them before they can take real steps toward a goal, and this book serves that purpose. If you've ever thought of writing something for publication, or if you've ever written something but didn't know how to get is published, this book is the step-by-step you've been hoping for. I love practice books like this. This book has inspired me to write something and give these steps a try. The worst that can happen is I fail and try again, but at least I'll have the roadmap to do it. I love that someone took the time to explain this process to aspiring writers. I can't wait to put these tools to use, and I look forward to the results. I would recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not just a guide from a simple "teacher," that provides tips and tricks, on how to get published. It is a kaleidoscopic-chronicle of how a dedicated professional decided to mentor and champion all voices, regardless of where they came from and what they believe. It's about the human experience: flawed, terrible, shocking, loving, and above all, beautifully-human. It's genuinely an AMERICAN compilation: a person from the new world that speaks and lives their truth and mistakes while co-existing with others. What better gift to give a person than a voice where they can confess, exorcize past horrors, and live to express them-and in print? !That is personal freedom. Own Your Stories. This is what this book delivers. I hope you can give yourselves the chance to experience.
Pam Moore More than 1 year ago
Not only is this book compelling and funny (I tore through it in two days), it works. I got an essay published in The Washington Post six weeks after I finished the book. Shapiro knows her stuff. Don't waver. Buy this book.
Savingsinseconds More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. Opinions shared are mine. I'm a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, but never had formal training in grammar or creative writing. In our curriculum, writing is very formulaic and methodical. The Byline Bible gave me some great ideas for helping my students improve the quality and interest of their writing. This isn't really a how-to manual. Instead, it's like having a personal tutor walk you through the steps by giving examples and alternative suggestions. I love the parts that showed how to perk up outdated sentences! The Byline Bible would be a great resource for writers who want to improve their content. I'll use it in my lesson planning as well as on my blog posts. Those who are considered professional writers could benefit from these ideas, too!
Mehreen Chawla More than 1 year ago
The Byline Bible is a must read for all aspiring writers!
SuzieRed More than 1 year ago
Susan Shapiro's Byline Bible is a must-read for serious writers of all levels, offering extremely useful publishing tips from a pro in-the-know. Shapiro has key insider knowledge about editor-writer etiquette, follow-up guidelines, and much more, and she shares examples of what ultimately sells. Loved it!
JustinSado More than 1 year ago
I am a high school student who has written my first sci-fi novel. This book has not only been an excellent tool with writing and publishing tips, but it has inspired me to push forward in getting my first novel published. It is excellent for all age groups and anyone who is interested in knowing more on how to publish their writings.
KateofHoboken More than 1 year ago
So many people want to help you write, edit and polish your words, but so few actually instruct you on what to do to land your piece of writing in the right publication. Writers want to be published. Sue Shapiro is the expert on the 1500 word or less essay and honing it for your target publication. If you live in the NYC area, attend her classes, if you don't, grab this book, read it and follow it's game plan. Sue has taken her decades expertise of guiding writers and put her knowledge and successes down on paper. If you can't next to Sue, having a copy of this book is the next best thing if you want to be a paid published writer. If you can get next to Sue, having her words in print with you all the times, can only make you smarter and a more successful paid published writer..
Lexical_Linguinista More than 1 year ago
The holy grail for writers who want step-by-step instructions on getting published. The Byline Bible by Susan Shapiro is the icing on the proverbial creative-writing-cake. I’m three courses away from completing a master’s degree in creative writing, and the timing for finding this book could not have been better. Shapiro is funny and straight to the point. After reading the first twenty-nine pages, I can’t wait to start writing a nonfiction essay so that I can test the methods in the book for getting published. She gives a step-by-step explanation of what topics to try, where to submit your work, who will pay, who will publish quickly, and more. I’ve got ideas simmering already and feel like Shapiro is the cheerleader rooting me on. I encourage any writer who wants to get published to get this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book that will really help beginning and intermediate writers get published better and faster.
Librarian_V_Reader More than 1 year ago
Librarian: I'll have to check the collection to see if we have a particular need for books on this topic. If the answer turns out to be yes, then I will absolutely be ordering this for our high school library. It is well written, neatly organized and full of that rarest of all things... common sense. Reader: This is an excellently written, well organized piece of writing. The information in it is actively practical, something that can't always be said for books on this topic. Many are either too detailed, or not interesting enough to keep the readers attention. This one is neither. This is an area that desperately needed updating in my personal library, so I'm glad that I was able to pick this one up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this very practical, entertaining guide to getting published. Susan Shapiro shares personal stories as well as ideas and successes from her students to present a very readable manual. The opening chapter that encourages the writing of a personal essay got me stirred up to get started and I felt the same passion and excitement all the way through. I loved how she showed that what we might consider ordinary situations in our life can be turned into great personal stories.The regional pieces she shared, written by her students, for the chapter on writing regional were very helpful. I also found the chapter on writing humor helpful. Shapiro ends the book with The Byline Bible's Top Five Lists and they are worth posting on the wall above your writing desk.
bookscoffeeandrepeat More than 1 year ago
A GENUINE AND PRACTICAL GUIDE TO PUBLISHING I'm not really sure if I wanted to write a book, but Susan Shapiro's "The Byline Bible inspired me to continue writing. Writing about basically anything. It also inspired me to write a meaningful piece of work. It didn't have to be a novel or a book as long as it hooks the reader on reading what I wrote. I found the personal anecdotes included in this novel to be enjoyable, especially regarding the students who took the author's class and later got their work published. Information regarding publishing was insightful and exciting to read about. Normally, I'd look up all these stuff but this book had almost everything I needed to know. This book was such a gem. It hooks you right from the start (so you know it's good writing), even with practical information that I never knew I would actually be interested in reading. All in all, this book was a nice surprise. It was useful and engaging. Readers can read the essays of Shapiro's students and find out what worked and what didn't. This book's a definite must have for aspiring writers out there.
JulieBall-1975 More than 1 year ago
This book is much more than a guide for aspiring writers seeking to get published. It is full of practical advice and detailed information that most authors of “writing books” either don’t know, or choose to leave out of their own story. Ms. Shapiro provides knowledge based on her personal experience as a freelancer and professor for over twenty years. Clearly what she does works. She and her students have been published nationally and some internationally. Excerpts from her book include work published by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, and too many magazines of all genres to mention. Kudos to her and her students. This book will be used by pros and amateurs alike for a long time.
YourDreamComeTrue More than 1 year ago
This is a great book that will no doubt help a lot of people. This will be best used and kept as a reference book and is certainly a good book to have in your arsenal, whether or not you're in the entertainment field or looking to go into it. As someone who is currently most of the way through earning a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, this is definitely a useful book. I am pleased to have this as not only a reference guide, but to also have in my arsenal. While this book may not give you every single thing you need to know on how to get published, it will certainly be handy for your journey into publishing and certainly can't hurt. I'd suggest going out there and grabbing this one, no matter where you are on your journey.
TattooedBibliophile More than 1 year ago
"It’s magic to see how quickly three pages can change your life." To anyone who wants to write anything, please buy this book. Nobody in the lit industry ever wants to tell you how to make money. It's like their noses are so far up their own a**es they believe that we can live off of our words, that the words will magically pay the light bill and buy us groceries. But that is not reality. This book is the tell-all guide on how to actually get published and get paid. Filled with everything from general-isms like “Obsession rids the mind of clutter” to specific instructions like "don’t submit your Valentine’s Day story on February 1," this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to see their work in print.
gabizago More than 1 year ago
This is an essential book if you are an aspiring writer - especially if you are looking to pitch your stories to a magazine! Susan Shapiro talks about the art of writing essays, and how you can get better at the task. As a journalist, I can definitely see myself using the tips on this book in my daily life - even if it just for writing a blog post or a book review. I love how it is packed with tips and examples, from Susan Shapiro herself and also from the students she had in her writing courses over the years. You can see what worked and what didn't work, and even learn how to prepare your cover letter that accompanies your story. A must read for all aspiring writers and bloggers out there!
Dhammelef More than 1 year ago
As a writer of magazine fiction as well as nonfiction, I'm always seeking to improve my work. This book will help any writer, from beginning to professional published author. In each chapter, a different kind of nonfiction writing how to is presented. And, in each chapter, this author presents concrete advice through conversational, easy to understand language. I even found myself laughing out loud while reading so this is also entertaining while you learn. Susan Shapiro provides encouragement to pursue your dreams and never give up. An author must read, read, read magazine articles to know what works, what is published today, and what style and content different magazines seek. The author provides so many previously published articles right in the chapters as examples for the reader--boom! Some of your research is already done and will give the reader spring boards to generate more ideas for their own work. Susan Shapiro also provides easy bulleted summaries of what to do and what not to do and some of these are the most humorous parts of the book. Readers will learn how to query an editor, format manuscripts, as well as how to politely follow up on submissions. I highly recommend this book to writers who want to improve their craft, whether it be for newspapers, magazines, or publishing on line.
conni7 More than 1 year ago
Do you want a book about getting published that is written by an unknown person? I don’t think so. The author, writing professor Susan Shapiro, has taught more than 25,000 students at NYU, Columbia, Temple, The New School, and Harvard University during the last 20 years. Many of her students have had their first stories printed in the New York Times. I personally think that’s pretty impressive; that’s the person I want to learn from! The book starts out by saying that it offers everything you need to learn to write and sell your story in five weeks or less. Her first piece of advice is that the best way to break into publishing is with a great three-page double spaced personal essay. From there, she starts you off at a pretty good clip, because after all, in order to accomplish this in five weeks, you have to get started. So pick a story, write in new York Times format (buy a newspaper if you need to see what that looks like.) and follow Shapiro’s directions. All this and more comes from the first assignment she gives her students. Moreover, she states that she was “blown away” by what her students had written when she first did that, and surprised that many of them were published. I think that should offer encouragement to anyone who thinks they would like to have an article published. I love to read, and so far I am very happy to do only that. I got a copy of this book for my son, who writes well, and I hope it will be useful to him. Perhaps someday, I will try my hand at writing too. If I ever do, this is definitely the book I will turn too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Byline Bible is a brilliant, essential guide to getting published. There's nothing else like it out there. The author, Susan Shapiro, is someone I've been studying with for five years. In that time, following her advice, I've been published in the New York Times, Salon, and other national publications. I found an agent for my book -- all because of Sue. I know this sounds like a cheesy, canned endorsement, but it's from the heart. Sue has helped thousands of students get published. She's the real deal! All her advice is right here in this smart, comprehensive, generous book. If you're serious about getting a byline and seeing what that can do for you, buy this book. Today.
Cinemabelle More than 1 year ago
In this wholly entertaining guide for freelance writers looking to climb the publication ladder, professor and scribe Susan Shapiro transfers her highly successful, results oriented course to print in a lively new release. Serving up various writing assignments that might result in you finding out where your strengths lie, from mining your life for irresistible personal essay fodder to locating someone to pitch it to (as well as how to respond to a critique and the most common reactions to expect), Shapiro guides old and new freelancers throughout the entire process from submit to print. Reminding writers that the fastest way to burn a bridge is to respond to an email in anger, she offers another practical reason to bite one's tongue as charming someone on the staff of a publication with your sincerity, reliability, and professionalism might make an editor far more willing to work with you to get your piece publication ready than a total stranger would be. With decades of proven experience to back her up both personally as a writer and professionally as a teacher, Shapiro includes countless columns and articles penned by her students over the years as examples throughout. Giving it to you straight while maintaining a healthy sense of relatable optimism and dry wit that keeps you flipping pages, Susan Shapiro's compellingly readable Byline Bible makes a worthwhile addition to your nonfiction shelf. Note: I received this title from Bookish First in exchange for an honest review and would give this 4.5 stars if able.
laurensboookshelf More than 1 year ago
This book is super witty and helpful! As someone who wants to be a writer, I was super excited to get a copy of this book and read it for a review. I thought that the author absolutely nailed it! This book is all about crafting and selling short nonfiction pieces. As someone who is a writer who is more about longer fantasy pieces, it was definitely a change for me. However, I'm also a student and a blogger so I figured that this book would definitely be helpful for me! In terms of writing papers and blog posts, this book is pretty illuminating. A lot of my papers are about straight facts but I've had some that can be narrative and be infused with a lot of my personal voice. To have this book to look at and reference when I'm writing the more-fun papers is going to be a blessing. Not only that, but I'm super excited to apply what I've read in here to my blog writing! I highly recommend this for anyone considering going into a writing career.