Writer Unboxed is a web-based community of writers, some traditionally published, some self-published while others write as a hobby, but everyone within the community wants to learn more about the craft and to share their experiences. I was sent an ARC of Author In Progress for an impartial review as I’m a member of that community. The thing is, though this is impartial, I knew I was going to love it even before it arrived.
One of the benefits of being in the WU community, is that every few days one of their essays arrives in my inbox. The topics of these essays vary hugely, ranging from where to find ideas on what to write, to how to deal with agents once those ideas are moulded into fully-formed novels. Some of the essays are from authors whose books I already own and whose views I value (Donald Maass and Dave King for example), others are from unpublished members of the community who despite their amateur label still have experiences that can benefit the group.
Author In Progress takes these essays (I’m not sure if they’ve been written fresh for the book or whether they’re recycled or adapted from their website) and groups them into the various phases of writing – preparation, writing, editing, etc. All essays are short, 4-5 pages, so the book is easy to dip in and out of. With such a wide range of topics and voices, some essays resonate stronger than others, but just because some, for me, missed the mark today, it doesn’t mean they won’t have greater value when I’m further down the writer’s path tomorrow.
My only criticism is that I would’ve liked to have seen a couple of essays on the nuts and bolts of writing, something akin to Dave King’s co-written Self Editing for Fiction Writers, but that’s only a minor point. With over 50 authors giving advice on all aspects of writing and the publishing industry, you’re guaranteed to find something of interest.