[Reading Room] Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays by Windy Lynn Harris

Normally my Tuesday Reading Room posts review a short story I’ve read, but I’m breaking with tradition this week to tell you about a fabulous — and much needed — new book, Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays, by Windy Lynn Harris, a writer and the founder of Marketing Coach for Creative Writers.

A Handbook For Today’s Writer

Windy Lynn Harris knows the industry and she knows the craft of short fiction and essay-writing. She breaks it all down for you, and this book gives you confidence to enter today’s writing market.

The first part of this book won my heart immediately, as it is stuffed with examples of short fiction and personal essays. “Learn by reading”, she says, and I couldn’t agree more.

Each included story is peppered with Windy’s commentary, showing you what the writer did well, and what you should emulate. (Includes stories by Kathy Fish, Alice Kaltman, Denise H. Long, Windy Lynn Harris; personal essays by Susan Pohlman, Bree Barton, Rudri Bhatt Patel, Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, Lisa Fugard)

Too many books about short story writing are decades out of date, talking about styles and market conditions that died out in the 1980s).

This new handbook defines short stories and personal essays in precise, concise terms, capturing the norms of now.

Mastering The Writing Process

Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays breaks down each form into manageable chunks, defines them, and gives you tips and exercises to lead you to mastery.

You’ll have read definitions of Voice, Scene, Setting, Character, Point of View, Dialogue, and Theme before, but Windy Lynn Harris’s writing style is engaging and fresh. Not a word is wasted.  I’m willing to bet she’ll have your brain sparking as you read.

And if you ever feel like part of your story isn’t working, come back to this book and browse these sections to figure out what you need to tweak.

Mastering The Publishing Business

The second part of the book is all about the publishing business.

It contains an authoritative, updated look at a world that didn’t even use email when I first sent out my first stories.

This is long overdue in writers’ handbooks.

And—joy of joys—it treats short story writing like a valid choice (not just a necessary step to climb before you move on to novels).

This section takes you step-by-step through the submission process, including my favorite part: a system for figuring out where each of your stories belongs. (Ever wondered what genre your story is? Ever wondered which of the zillions of markets to aim for? This book has you covered.)

It also includes much-needed, updated information on submission, intellectual property and rights.

More that that, it reveals what’s happening to your manuscript between the moment you hit ‘send’ and the moment you receive a response.

(Windy even takes you though the different types of rejection and how to deal with them)

By the end, you’ll feel confident that you know the craft and business well enough to jump in…and that is the only way to start racking up acceptances!

If you love to write short stories or personal essays and long to find a wider audience, this book deserves a place on your shelf…and in your hands!

(Full disclosure: I bought my own copy of the book. I have met the author and, no surprise, we hit it off. I was prepared to say nothing about this book if I thought it sucked. It really doesn’t.)

(The book links in this article are affiliate links to Amazon, meaning I get a kickback if you click on them. If you don’t like affiliate links or would rather buy from your local bookstore, do not click on these links!)