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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Publishing Intern
I am interning for a publishing company this summer and I honestly agree with everything that she is saying about the business. If you are looking to get published, read this and "Thinking Like Your Editor." These books could save you from getting rejections soley upon your cover letter and proposal. If you are serious about being published, you need to do your...
Published on June 29 2004

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Half good, half bad
...I found the first part of the book to be an exercise in self-indulgence, and flipped through it to get to the second part.
The second part of the book, however, does offer useful information, giving insight into what happens with editors and agents and publicists, and for this the book is worthwhile. ...
Published on Oct. 19 2002 by Victoria A. Grossack


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Publishing Intern, June 29 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Forest For The Trees (Paperback)
I am interning for a publishing company this summer and I honestly agree with everything that she is saying about the business. If you are looking to get published, read this and "Thinking Like Your Editor." These books could save you from getting rejections soley upon your cover letter and proposal. If you are serious about being published, you need to do your homework or you may not stand a chance, even if you have a great book. Read these books listen to their advise and keep trying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sound and perceptive advice, May 23 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Forest For The Trees (Paperback)
Although the author of this book rejected my proposal, I have to admit that she knows what she's talking about both when it comes to exploring the psyche of the writer, and the advice she offers to work through your uncertainty and finally begin submitting your manuscript. I also took her advice not to be discouraged by one rejection, and although I am not yet a published novelist, I will keep this book on my shelf and turn to it whenever I start to feel like I am alone in my writing journey.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Type indicator" for writers, July 15 2011
This review is from: The Forest for the Trees (Revised and Updated): An Editor's Advice to Writers (Paperback)
If you write or have a writer in your life, this book not only describes different writing personas, it does so in a fun and undemanding way. Fun to read for self-exploration; fun when applied to other writers you may know. A welcome omission to this updated version is the self-evident section on new technologies and the Internet that was given prominence in earlier editions that is now weaved within the entire text. Beyond those who wish to publish their first manuscript, Lerner's work is relevant for graduate students who wish to acknowledge their writing process (or lack of!). I found this book very useful and a must-have for anyone taking their first step in critically assessing their writing habits and style with a goal of becoming a more productive writer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars She knows writers..., April 9 2004
By A Customer
Lerner understands writing from every angle. I found the book to be a form of validation that the weird crap that I go through is the same thing that scores of other wannabes go through.
Lerner makes some good points and gives some excellent advice. I found the book well worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thankfully, not a "how to" book, Feb. 20 2004
This review is from: Forest For The Trees (Paperback)
My biggest fear with books "about" anything, is that they tend to lecture and preach, taking any pleasure out of the topic you might have had beforehand. Nowhere is this more true than in books about writing. The danger in reading a book about "how to" write, is that it kills any of the writer's own voice, creative spirit, and instinctual sense of rhythm and timing, by focusing only on the technical aspect of writing. I've stayed clear of those types of books, because I fear that they will only make things worse and not better. And yet, I've hungered for something that could potentially give me some good points without cramping my style.
Fortunately, Betsy Lerners "The Forest for the Trees" does just that. She indicates early on that this is not a book about style. She obviously believes, that in spite of technical faults, an author may still produce very good work. So if this book is not about style, then what is it about? We're so used to reading "how to" books that I think we've forgotten "how to" do.
This book is about what motivates writers (and editors) and gives you some insight on how the system works. Lerner talks about different kinds of writers - some rely on instinct or "natural talent", others are driven by anger, hope, or any other emotion. She encourages writers to be brave, to take a chance, but to recognize likewise if you've gone too far over the edge (it's a cliff, after all!). Lerner encourages writers to do their thing. She oozes confidence between the lines that a reader can't help but be caught up in.
Don't expect any advice on "how to" write in this book. You CAN expect a bunch of interesting anecdotes and thoughtful insights. You will understand more of the process involved in producing a manuscript and what will happen after the signing of a contract (if you're that lucky).
Informative, entertaining, succinct and beautifully written prose. I highly recommend this book to anyone who knows they want to write, but are uncertain about it. This book will give you the confidence TO DO.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Passion for the written word..., Oct. 4 2003
By 
Barbara Bell (San Carlos, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forest For The Trees (Paperback)
Lerner's passion for the written word has allowed her to put a book on the shelves that is a back-to-basics look at how to write, why write, as well as how the publishing end of this works. She has done her homework, citing examples of contemporary writers, as well as literary icons, to breathe life into the task of writing.
Every person who struggles with writing and getting published needs to have this book on their shelves. It's a gentle reminder that says, "Keep going."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read First, Then Get Busy and Write!, Aug. 9 2003
By 
Timothy Kearney (Haverhill, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forest For The Trees (Paperback)
A few months ago I was buying a few writing magazines. The clerk politely asked me if I wanted to be a writer, I answered no, the magazines were a gift. I was embarrassed to admit that yes, I would love to write a book, even though it might never happen. What was I trying to hide? I was in a bookstore. As a former clerk in a bookstore, I know that many bookstore employees are wannabe writers. Perhaps I would have found a soul mate in the person behind the counter. Fortunately I did, in Betsy Lerner, when she mentions how many would be writers keep their dreams private. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed this book so much. Lernerï¿s book, The Forrest for the Trees, gives a description of both the writing process as well as publishing. She sees writing as a noble endeavor, and dreams of writing as valid. After reading her book, anyone would be encouraged to write the great American novel. She uses anecdotes and examples from literatureï¿s greatest authors as well as some not so greats, and has plenty of examples from authors she has worked with as an editor.
Writing students would benefit from a book such as this, but it really is not for aspiring writers alone. Teachers could benefit from her concrete advise and encouragement as they search for ways to encourage students. As a matter of fact I fondly recalled two of my English teachers as I read this book and wished I had read it while I taught. It is also encouraging for people who have to write as part of their job, but may never actually write a book. She states in her book in many different ways that readers and writers (those published and not) share a bond through love of language, and since many readers will love this book, she more than proves her point.
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4.0 out of 5 stars How to Lick the Boots of your Editor, June 9 2003
By 
TOMA (Midlothian, Virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forest For The Trees (Paperback)
The book is intended to give direction to those writers seeking publication. It details the life of an editor turned literary agent and shows the pitfalls, pratfalls, excesses, standards, and query guidelines for writers as they vie for entry into the publishing world. It gives an image of a publishing profession that has dramatically changed since the days of the early fifties where writers had particular professional relationships with writers. As a writer myself, it showed me a picture of the chaotic, fast-paced world of publication gone amuck. For the would-be author, it shows that getting into print via the mail is no longer possible. Every writer must first find an agent worth taking him/her on. Every writer must write cover letters as meticulously as he/she would the work itself. And basically, the agent seems to hold all the cards-pleasing them seems to be the key. A would-be writer getting into print is like the old adage of a camel fitting through the eye of a needle. Ms. Lerner also does not paint a pretty picture of writers and their neuroses. In fact, for the most part, they seem like a pack of broken toys living on the island of misfit toys. What seems to be marketable depends on timing and since the times keep on a changin' it seems difficult for an author to hit a moving target. Through the support of the editor and agent, it appears that temperamental writers are able to complete novels and reach a certain pinnacle. For some writers, deadlines are a help, for others disaster. It was hard to find a writer-editor-agent relationship that actually survived more than a decade. The cottage publishing house is dead. Huge conglomerates have swallowed up just about every small publishing house so the publishing community resembles Titans fighting Titans.
The subtitle could have been "How to lick the boots of your editor." However, another more apt subtitle could have been the simple words "Persist." Lerner does prove to be a sympathetic editor, friend, and advocate to the aspiring writer even through the rules of the game seem too tidy and self serving. Who, as an editor, does not want to be properly courted? While the writer turned reader becomes increasingly frustrated at this self-help book which clearly shows the seemingly insurmountable odds any writer faces as he/she climbs the ladder( and cringes at the lottery hits by some authors who make the movie deal on the first try), Lerner's other advice to "persist" seems to be the nugget writers need to hold onto-it is an idea, a precious one, that feels more like a life-line.
The chapter on "Rejection" letters is the best for it shows how writers gracefully accept rejection and how others rail against the missives more as a survival instinct like a dog who's cornered. There is yet another list resembling Jack's beanstalk. Writers can find themselves at some branch on their way up in the hopes that all their efforts will soon reap the pot of gold at the top. And, of course, the advice that if you slip from this(my long winded extended metaphor)-it is only you to blame for quitting. So buck up mateys(sp?)-also good advice from Ms. Lerner's briefcase.
The anecdotes throughout are nice and help the well written book along, but if you an older writer, who has been though the series of "how to be a successful writer" for the umpteenth time, they get old-not really, but all of us can feel proverbed and anecdoted to death, can't we? It is satisfying, the story of the "child of the book" which reminds all of us on both sides that books are special and a noble Percevalian (sp?)pursuit.
After reading such book, a pessimist would easily come to the conclusion that such a field is impossible to break into. Especially if you are prone to write sentences like the previous one or you can't spell like some authors (Yeats, too). Who can be bothered to sort out restrictive and non-restrictive clauses? The landmines that fill the terrain seem to make the journey much too arduous, much too time consuming for god's sake, and even a bit sadistic. A book can be a lifetime in the making? How many drafts? Give me a break!
I would agree.
Nonetheless, it also does seem that a writer who thinks he/she is a writer is a precious thing. Somewhere along the line, the idea has presented itself in diary form or school essay or creative writing assignment or from a rhyme off the tongue. The thought of the ability or love of the word and story precludes the fact that the terrain must be traversed despite all consequences-and I mean ALL in bold, capital letters. Writers must write, that is all (in italics) there is to it. Therefore, for the young writer, I would advise on Lerner's crucial point that they continue to "persist" in finding a voice, finding a genre that they enjoy, and most importantly, sharing the writing in whatever way they can with their own small community first: whether that be friends, family, the community, radio, local publications . . . even the Internet. Young writers can also keep it personal and write like Emily Dickinson who as Lerner tells us wrote some 1000 poems that were never published or seen (as I understand it) by anyone. The Forest for the Trees is a title that suits both sides of the equation whether you are looking into the Forest as a writer or as editor. It is that focus that remains compelling and worthwhile.
Reading the book reminds me as a teacher and writer to dispel young students from trying to be like Hemingway in his pictures and from seeing themselves living like Fitzgerald in his gilded mansion. It reminds me that it might be possible for younger students to keep focusing on what's of utmost importance and that is the word on the written page-out of the mouths of babes. For my own writing, "Yes. Betsy, my dearest,. . . my ghost-like friend, I will persist."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mentoring worth the money, April 19 2003
By 
This review is from: Forest For The Trees (Paperback)
This is not a practical how-to book for writers. Rather, it is an illuminating look inside the head of an editor, looking out from the publishing industry and looking in at it. Again, I didn't glean "advice" from this book so much as sheer information, some bordering on gossip, which is always good, and insight about the people, the process, and the product of publishing. Everyone, in the end, is really after the same thing: great books that have a lasting impact on their readers. This book is one of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is the Honest Truth, Feb. 16 2003
By 
Leticia Araujo Perez (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forest For The Trees (Paperback)
Ms. Lerner is a maestro in the writing world. She knows how it feels to be the lowly of the lowly down in the dungeon of an agent's office or an author who is getting constantly rejected. She knows how it feels to be on top of the world as a highly-ranked, powerful editor at a major publishing house bidding for the newest and freshest projects. She describes in depth her observations of authors who have had their books lavished by the world. She compassionately describes how her heart bled for the author who wasn't even acknowledged by her own publishing house. Ms. Lerner covers it all from beginning to end both in (in-house staff meetings on everything about your book) and out (the author struggling to write on the computer or a notepad in their house) of the publishing business. Having authored and published my first book via the traditional publishing method, I can state from first-hand experience that Ms. Lerner has described every single feeling I have had from book idea to book publication. Ms. Lerner speaks fact not fiction in a non-condescending tone. For any person who is serious about their writing and has the will to get it published, this book is an authorative, credible, must-read that needs to be purchased immediately.
Leticia Araujo Perez, author of Making Your Record: Courtroom Guidebook for Attorneys and Law Students.
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