Your First Novel arrived in my mailbox yesterday and by last night I had finished reading it. I have already written my first novel and yet I found this book useful–indeed, invaluable.
Dennis Lehane is winningly honest as he dishes out tough love in his inspiring foreword, leading into the first half of the book (written by novelist Laura Whitcomb) which focuses on the craft of novel writing and is filled with helpful hints, book recommendations, and exercises.
The second half of the book (written by agent Ann Rittenberg) focuses on the business side of publishing your novel. I devoured this section as even though I had what I thought was a clear understanding of how things worked on this side, I was not comprehending it as clearly before I read this book, as I am now that I have read it(also, I love that there are so many Fitzgerald references–perfect for my latest obsession). This section also offers reading recommendations, web site links, and much insider knowledge.
If you are writing your first novel (or your second, third, fourth, fifth, and even if you have already published a novel) this book is for you–as it leads you from inception to publication and beyond. You might find–as I did–that after reading this book you feel better about your work because you realize how much you are doing right by yourself and your work in the potentially intimidating writing life.
In short, where in the past I might have felt anxiety, after reading this book I feel empowered. And that is the strength of being informed.