THE WRITING BUSINESS by Donald MacCampbell


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Literary agent MacCampbell has no illusions about publishers or authors, and--as a purveyor of romantic fiction--virtually none about books. Women editors are on the upswing, he'll tell you, because it's women who are buying books. Forget that 40,000-word novella, unless you're a Philip Roth: ""the longer a book nowadays, the better its chances."" Off-the-cuff remarks like these don't constitute an introduction to authorship (for that, see How To Get Happily Published, p. 27) but they can keep a tyro from acting the fool. Topics touched upon range from the new copyright law (protector of unpublished mss.) to the perils of collaboration (two personalities, he notes, are harder to deal with than one) to the gothic, the romance, the sexy historical, and other categories of fiction. Nobody knows, he insists, what makes a book popular. (Everybody laughed at Mandingo but did that daunt the author?!!) Still, ""In an adventure story the action should be well spaced. Here it all comes in the first half of the novel. After page 150 the reader would fall asleep!"" Tip-offs like these, retrieved from his files, add valuable specifics to the general strictures.

Pub Date: July 21st, 1978
Publisher: Crown