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Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book

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Everything youve ever wanted to know about publishing but were too afraid to ask is right here in this funny, candid guide by acclaimed author Courtney Maum. Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book has over 150 contributors from all walks of the industry, including international bestselling authors Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about publishing but were too afraid to ask is right here in this funny, candid guide by acclaimed author Courtney Maum. Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book has over 150 contributors from all walks of the industry, including international bestselling authors Anthony Doerr, Roxane Gay, Garth Greenwell, Lisa Ko, R. O. Kwon, Rebecca Makkai, and Ottessa Moshfegh, alongside cult favorites Sarah Gerard, Melissa Febos, Mitchell S. Jackson, and Mira Jacob. Agents, film scouts, film producers, translators, disability and minority activists, and power agents and editors also weigh in, offering advice and sharing intimate anecdotes about even the most taboo topics in the industry. Their wisdom will help aspiring authors find a foothold in the publishing world and navigate the challenges of life before and after publication with sanity and grace. Are MFA programs worth the time and money? How do people actually sit down and finish a novel? Did you get a good advance? What do you do when you feel envious of other writers? And why the heck aren’t your friends saying anything about your book? Covering questions ranging from the logistical to the existential (and everything in between), Before and After the Book Deal is the definitive guide for anyone who has ever wanted to know what it’s really like to be an author.


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Everything youve ever wanted to know about publishing but were too afraid to ask is right here in this funny, candid guide by acclaimed author Courtney Maum. Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book has over 150 contributors from all walks of the industry, including international bestselling authors Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about publishing but were too afraid to ask is right here in this funny, candid guide by acclaimed author Courtney Maum. Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book has over 150 contributors from all walks of the industry, including international bestselling authors Anthony Doerr, Roxane Gay, Garth Greenwell, Lisa Ko, R. O. Kwon, Rebecca Makkai, and Ottessa Moshfegh, alongside cult favorites Sarah Gerard, Melissa Febos, Mitchell S. Jackson, and Mira Jacob. Agents, film scouts, film producers, translators, disability and minority activists, and power agents and editors also weigh in, offering advice and sharing intimate anecdotes about even the most taboo topics in the industry. Their wisdom will help aspiring authors find a foothold in the publishing world and navigate the challenges of life before and after publication with sanity and grace. Are MFA programs worth the time and money? How do people actually sit down and finish a novel? Did you get a good advance? What do you do when you feel envious of other writers? And why the heck aren’t your friends saying anything about your book? Covering questions ranging from the logistical to the existential (and everything in between), Before and After the Book Deal is the definitive guide for anyone who has ever wanted to know what it’s really like to be an author.

30 review for Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book

  1. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Maum

    This is life-changing stuff.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julia Phillips

    THE BOOK BIBLE IS HERE 🙏 THE BOOK BIBLE IS HERE 🙏🏻

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angie Kim

    I was lucky enough to get a draft of BEFORE & AFTER THE BOOK DEAL three months before the publication of my debut novel, and I devoured it in one sitting within 24 hours. Its now been about 6 months since Ive had it, and Id say Ive read parts of it at least once per week. Why has it become so indispensable for me? First, its an amazingly helpful how-to guide, with frank insider information that you cant get anywhere else. If youre anything like me, youll have questions youre too afraid or I was lucky enough to get a draft of BEFORE & AFTER THE BOOK DEAL three months before the publication of my debut novel, and I devoured it in one sitting within 24 hours. It’s now been about 6 months since I’ve had it, and I’d say I’ve read parts of it at least once per week. Why has it become so indispensable for me? First, it’s an amazingly helpful how-to guide, with frank insider information that you can’t get anywhere else. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have questions you’re too afraid or embarrassed to ask (think: sales numbers, advance $ figures, book tour budgets, and the like) and, in any event, you don’t even know who you’d ask because most of your friends are clueless debut authors just like you. This book answers them! Second, it’s a cathartic read for those moments when you’re feeling insecure, confused, or just generally awful about yourself and/or your book. (And believe me, no matter who you are and what happens to your book, you WILL have moments of panic, envy, and despair.) Courtney Maum shares anecdotes and insights about the publication process that are funny, honest, and wise. I can’t count the number of times I thought, “I felt the same exact way!” and felt better, knowing that I wasn’t alone, that it’s natural to feel what I was feeling. And just as many times, Maum provided an explanation and guidance about something that had been baffling me and my author friends. (For example, why do some friends say negative things about your book to you and/or tag you in negative reviews?! And how do you respond?) In summary, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to be, has been, or is a debut author, and the perfect gift for aspiring writers. My one complaint about the book is that it wasn’t out years ago, when I was starting the whole writing/publishing business. I can’t wait until it’s out so that I can buy it for my writing friends and recommend it to every writer I know!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nic

    A fun, accessible book with some great detail on what to expect when you get your first book published. If any of my friends gets a book deal, I might buy them this book; I also recommend it to anyone who just wants to add realistic detail to their fun daydreams about being a published author one day.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julia Ember

    A really terrific book for career writers whatever stage of the journey you're at. I found the chapters on dealing with imposter syndrome and envy particularly useful, as well as the section on how not to annoy your editor!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catapult

    Everything youve ever wanted to know about publishing but were too afraid to ask is right here in this funny, candid guide by acclaimed author Courtney Maum! Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about publishing but were too afraid to ask is right here in this funny, candid guide by acclaimed author Courtney Maum!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Truly a wonderful collection of resources as well as encouragements and harsh truths from Maum herself and from many of her friends and colleagues in the industry, on both sides of the rejection letter. Even if you're still just thinking about tackling your first book-length project, I'd highly recommend reading this because it will certainly prove helpful. If you're experiencing writer's block and/or suffering from imposter syndrome, YOU NEED THIS yesterday, go get a copy. I think most writers Truly a wonderful collection of resources as well as encouragements and harsh truths from Maum herself and from many of her friends and colleagues in the industry, on both sides of the rejection letter. Even if you're still just thinking about tackling your first book-length project, I'd highly recommend reading this because it will certainly prove helpful. If you're experiencing writer's block and/or suffering from imposter syndrome, YOU NEED THIS yesterday, go get a copy. I think most writers who haven't yet hit their stride or who still have a day job (which you should probably try to hold on to because, health insurance), wherever you land, pick this up.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    A comprehensive explanation of the publishing process all the way from "so you want to be a writer" to "do you have to publish a second book". The soup-to-nuts guide to publishing, if you will. Maum includes examples of personal experience and advice from many writers, editors, publicists, and agents to provide a larger scope of advice. This also isn't a book of Rules About Publishing (some of them are - like, don't be a jerk to other people then expect them to help you); in many instances Maum A comprehensive explanation of the publishing process all the way from "so you want to be a writer" to "do you have to publish a second book". The soup-to-nuts guide to publishing, if you will. Maum includes examples of personal experience and advice from many writers, editors, publicists, and agents to provide a larger scope of advice. This also isn't a book of Rules About Publishing (some of them are - like, don't be a jerk to other people then expect them to help you); in many instances Maum provides information about points where an author may need to make a decision - MFA or no MFA? Self-publish or traditional publish? Get an agent or go it alone? To teach or not to teach? - without saying one choice is right or better than an other because it all depends on what an author wants from their career. And a good read for anyone who just wants to know more about the process. Plus, Maum is pretty funny. Thanks to Catapult for the galley - I had requested the digital galley and then a paper copy magically showed up at the store for me from Jen Kovitz. <3

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sabra

    I listened to the audiobook for Before And After The Book Deal by Courtney Maum during my 2 hour appointment at the dentist today. It made everything more hopeful and pleasant and I highly recommend reading everything by Courtney Maum! I have read many books about publishing and craft, and this is definitely in my top 3 picks for any writers with the goal of getting published. I really appreciated how the book is very diverse and yet succinct. For example, the writer discusses chapbooks, poetry, I listened to the audiobook for Before And After The Book Deal by Courtney Maum during my 2 hour appointment at the dentist today. It made everything more hopeful and pleasant and I highly recommend reading everything by Courtney Maum! I have read many books about publishing and craft, and this is definitely in my top 3 picks for any writers with the goal of getting published. I really appreciated how the book is very diverse and yet succinct. For example, the writer discusses chapbooks, poetry, the pros and cons of self publishing. I especially appreciate the deep dive into the economics of writing that isn’t sugarcoated and the discussion of book advances or two book deals. I’ve searched for a guide to ask the unwritten rules for becoming a published author who also makes money and was so happy to finally read it! My favorite sections were when the book analyzes what is success. Success can indicate many different metrics and definitions.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Kunkel

    This is a tremendously helpful, well-written, and perfectly laid out resource for writers - I've actually published a book, and I wish I could have read this beforehand! It covers a wide range of useful topics, and is quite funny as it gives actionable advice. A great gift for an aspiring writer or someone trying to take a leap forward in their career. Highly recommend!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Well hello to my new writing Bible. If you want to be published in any form, you absolutely must read this book. It's sobering but it's empowering too. I underlined the hell out of it and will be coming back to it again and again as I navigate different types of writing and different stages of the process. I'm so grateful for this book because it demystifies what I imagine to be a somewhat intentionally opaque industry, and it's thoughtful and funny along the way.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jami Nakamura Lin

    *This* is the publishing book we all should read--one that actually has relevant, up to date, necessary information for the anxious writer that is all of us

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kiera

    As an aspiring author, I feel this book was a perfect reference manual. I found it to be informative, humorous at times, and with the guest writers that appear, it's a helpful guide to get you from beginning to end. It truly covers everything you need to know. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is about to embark on the writing/publishing journey.

  14. 5 out of 5

    D. Arthur

    This book is a must-buy for the (aspiring) debut author! Informative, funny, and conversational, reading this book is like a long coffee chat with your most helpful publishing friend. Courtney and the many other featured writers/editors/etc are all generous with their thoughts while still being honest and realistic. As someone who has often felt like she would be completely behind the 8 ball without an MFA, this book demystifies so much of both the writing and publishing process. Right now, the This book is a must-buy for the (aspiring) debut author! Informative, funny, and conversational, reading this book is like a long coffee chat with your most helpful publishing friend. Courtney and the many other featured writers/editors/etc are all generous with their thoughts while still being honest and realistic. As someone who has often felt like she would be completely behind the 8 ball without an MFA, this book demystifies so much of both the writing and publishing process. Right now, the before the book deal section is most relevant for me as I finish editing my debut novel and begin querying agents (gulp!). I feel much more equipped to do that after reading this wisdom. I look forward to revisiting this book if (when?!) I get that first book deal.

  15. 5 out of 5

    TaraShea Nesbit

    This book will whisper insight, good tips, and a little bit of gossip--the kind you might want before and after you write and sell your first book. Maum is funny and smart, but it isn't just her talking here: weaved into every few pages or so are interviews and insights from other writers. You really get a broad spectrum of experiences about the business side of books from poets like Rosa Alcalá to prose writers like Alexander Chee.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    4.5 stars I thought this book was very informative and helpful while also instilled with a great sense of humor. Maum's jokes made it more fun to read rather than just an overwhelming load of info. I would definitely need to revisit certain sections again as they more specifically applied to me (there's a lot here!), but I thought it was beneficial to read it all the way through once and have a better understanding of the whole experience of publishing your first book - from actually writing the 4.5 stars I thought this book was very informative and helpful while also instilled with a great sense of humor. Maum's jokes made it more fun to read rather than just an overwhelming load of info. I would definitely need to revisit certain sections again as they more specifically applied to me (there's a lot here!), but I thought it was beneficial to read it all the way through once and have a better understanding of the whole experience of publishing your first book - from actually writing the thing all the way to moving on to whatever comes next. While this covers relevant info for any type of author, it does slant more towards the area of general literary novels/short story collections than genre fiction or nonfiction. It also has some sections focused on making a living as a freelance/professional writer or writing teacher as a way to sustain your art (the book does not mince words about how hard it is to make money as an author). I would definitely recommend to both aspiring and established authors as a fantastic view into the publishing world.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    As someone obsessed with reading about authors and the publishing world, I absolutely loved this book. I went to see Courtney Maum speak at the American Writers Museum, and I ended up purchasing the book that night. If you're an aspiring author, it's full of relevant information not often sharedI'm talking real book advance numbers, how to interact with your agents and publicists, and even a section on navigating the world of academia. And, if you're just a weirdo like me who loves to read about As someone obsessed with reading about authors and the publishing world, I absolutely loved this book. I went to see Courtney Maum speak at the American Writers Museum, and I ended up purchasing the book that night. If you're an aspiring author, it's full of relevant information not often shared⁠—I'm talking real book advance numbers, how to interact with your agents and publicists, and even a section on navigating the world of academia. And, if you're just a weirdo like me who loves to read about book publishing, there's plenty for you too.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Cobb Sabatini

    I won an Advance Reading Copy of Before and After The Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book by Courtney Maum from Goodreads. This is the book writers have been seeking! Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book Deal by Courtney Maum answers every question that beginning writers ask, addresses every situation upcoming authors wonder about, and guides writers through I won an Advance Reading Copy of Before and After The Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book by Courtney Maum from Goodreads. This is the book writers have been seeking! Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book Deal by Courtney Maum answers every question that beginning writers ask, addresses every situation upcoming authors wonder about, and guides writers through situations they may not have even imagined yet. With directness and humor, Maum offers inspiration and insight on everything from the writing process to the publishing process. Even mundane questions about things like finances and getting health insurance as a writer are covered in this book. This is a book writers will revisit often for advice and inspiration.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Chen

    As someone who signed with a new literary agent, I found this book to be an invaluable resource. So much has changed in publishing since I first started writing YA, and the author breaks down every single step in a fun, easy to understand way. She asks the questions that everyone wants to know but cant find. The last section with advice from published authors is fantastic. Highly recommend! As someone who signed with a new literary agent, I found this book to be an invaluable resource. So much has changed in publishing since I first started writing YA, and the author breaks down every single step in a fun, easy to understand way. She asks the questions that everyone wants to know but can’t find. The last section with advice from published authors is fantastic. Highly recommend!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Collin

    In the interests of transparency, I only read about 70% of this book, but I feel like I got what I needed out of it, i.e., the stuff about pitching the book through to going on tour for the book. I've finished over 20 manuscripts in my life so I didn't need the 'tips for finishing a book' and I am definitely not ready for anything post-tour, since most of this book just made me think I wasn't cut out for publishing anyway. That voice has been squashed and I definitely enjoyed the more practical In the interests of transparency, I only read about 70% of this book, but I feel like I got what I needed out of it, i.e., the stuff about pitching the book through to going on tour for the book. I've finished over 20 manuscripts in my life so I didn't need the 'tips for finishing a book' and I am definitely not ready for anything post-tour, since most of this book just made me think I wasn't cut out for publishing anyway. That voice has been squashed and I definitely enjoyed the more practical lessons, tips, and information in the agent-querying/pitch meeting/what-are-advances-anyway arena.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Mans Mckenny

    Buy this book for every writer in your life, especially those who aspire to write (or have just finished) a novel draft. Wonderful advice from all sorts of professionals, funny and approachable and not sugar-coated. Highly recommended!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    This indispensable guide is jam packed with everything youll ever need to know about publishing your first book. Chock full of helpful content, its also laugh out loud funny and just saved me from asking my agent a whole lot of questions. Highly recommend! This indispensable guide is jam packed with everything you’ll ever need to know about publishing your first book. Chock full of helpful content, it’s also laugh out loud funny and just saved me from asking my agent a whole lot of questions. Highly recommend!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Really interesting insight into how publishing a book actually works. Im not sure I want to ever go through all of that but its cool to know how it all works. Also makes me more mindful on how much work it takes for books end up in my hands. Really interesting insight into how publishing a book actually works. I’m not sure I want to ever go through all of that but it’s cool to know how it all works. Also makes me more mindful on how much work it takes for books end up in my hands.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    A gem of a book! Useful even for authors working on their second book and beyond. I have suggested it to tons of people.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A MUST READ for anyone who is submitting, wanting to submit, has submitted, or is getting their first book published. Indispensable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily Mirengoff

    Well, I loved this book. But if I didn't, I would still heed this book's advice, and not write nasty reviews on goodreads for the author to see. That's one of the things I most appreciated about this book--the way it made writers seem like one big community, who need each other and support one another. I'm sure it's not all daisies and angels, but we are all trying to achieve this really difficult thing and it was nice to hear from so many fellow authors and publishing professionals who want to Well, I loved this book. But if I didn't, I would still heed this book's advice, and not write nasty reviews on goodreads for the author to see. That's one of the things I most appreciated about this book--the way it made writers seem like one big community, who need each other and support one another. I'm sure it's not all daisies and angels, but we are all trying to achieve this really difficult thing and it was nice to hear from so many fellow authors and publishing professionals who want to help. My only problem with this book is that I am still at the "finishing" stage of my manuscript, so all of the subsequent advice is on problems I will (hopefully) encounter later. But it was still useful, to get this glimpse forward, so I can anticipate what I'll need and some potential pitfalls to avoid. The book is full of useful, funny advice, sympathetic to common writerly neuroses with just enough tough love mixed in. If you're in this hellscape of a process, I highly recommend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Arabelle Sicardi

    What a helpful resource! I did buy this after my book deal and am wishing it was out when I was still slogging through the proposal. A must for your bookshelf.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    I wish I had read this 2 years ago.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gillian Katz

    This is a brilliant book. It covers everything you need to know before and after the book deal. It gives the positives, the negatives, what to expect, how much to expect for an advance, how to get an agent, Everything you need to know. I recommend this book to all published and non-published authors and poets.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Yanira

    Loved the "just chill" energy in this book.

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