A Review in Review – Be Careful Whose Opinion You Ask!

I regularly read PWxyz, the blog of Publishers Weekly. I have always loved the magazine for keeping up with the publishing world, and with the digital age, I can do so every day, rather than waiting for my magazine to arrive in the mail.

Today, I read a post that once again highlights one of PWxyz’s favorite fellow blogs – Letters of Note.

According the the About Me notation: Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Scans/photos where possible. Fakes will be sneered at. Updated every weekday. It is edited by Shaun Usher.

So today, I am stealing a letter featured on Letters of Note and PWxyz, written by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) because, as a writer and editor, I have received my share of rejection letters and quiver at the thought of a bad review. This review by Twain/Clemens is fair warning to choose your critics wisely. If you want simpering praise, ask your mother to read your manuscript. If you want truth (YOU can’t handle the truth . . . or maybe you can?), then see if you can get a widely-published author to read your manuscript, and brace yourself!

Publishers Chatto & Windus asked (Mark) Twain for a blurb for one of their books, Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California by Dod Grille, which was by one of Twain’s friends, Ambrose Bierce. The publishers probably expected a kind word from Twain, but instead he ripped the book apart:


Farmington Avenue,



“Dod Grile” (Mr. Bierce) is a personal friend of mine, & I like him exceedingly — but he knows my opinion of the “Nuggets & Dust,” & so I do not mind exposing it to you. It is the vilest book that exists in print — or very nearly so. If you keep a “reader,” it is charity to believe he never really read that book, but framed his verdict upon hearsay.
Bierce has written some admirable things — fugitive pieces — but none of them are among the “Nuggets.” There is humor in Dod Grile, but for every laugh that is in his book there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit. The laugh is too expensive.

Ys truly

Samuel L. Clemens

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm  Comments (1)  

I Just Have to Share This Writer’s Digest Article Because It’s So Informative!

How to Revise Your Work (& Awesome Editing Symbols You Should Know)

by Brian Klems

Maybe I’m a nerd, but I love the editing process. I love recasting sentences to make them stronger, choosing specific words to make dialogue sing, correcting grammar until it’s fit to print and drawing little squibblies all over the page (mainly because I like the way squibblies look). Honestly, I use editing marks so much that sometimes I get bored with the usual suspects and make up my own.
Here is a list of Well-Known Editing Symbols, just in case you aren’t familiar:

Here is a list of the Brian A. Klems Lesser-Known Editing Symbols Worksheet:
If you need help revising your work, check out these excellent articles filled with advice on how to turn your good manuscript into a great manuscript:

Revisions: What Every Writer Should Know
The Revision Process: How I Prepared My Book for Publication
6 Keys to Revising Your Fiction
Revision Checklist (via agent-turned-author Nathan Bransford)

And finally, if you want to really amp up your manuscript to make sure agents read past page one, consider downloading:

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes

P.S.—According to my wife, there’s no “maybe” in the sentence “maybe I’m a nerd.” Such is the life of a writer.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Read my Dad blog: TheLifeOfDad.com
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter: WD Newsletter
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