Category Archives: Non-Fiction Reviews

Emma Maree Reviews: Dear Agent

Book: Dear Agent by Nicola Morgan

Genre: Non-Fiction/Writing Advice

You’ve written the best book you can and you believe there are readers for it, but how do you persuade an agent or publisher to take it on? The first thing they will see is your letter or email and this short document must sell your book, make it stand out from the crowd, make it (and you) desirable.

Dear Agent contains detailed expert advice, covering the best structure for your letter, what to put in (and what to leave out), the answers to the questions writers ask, and all the horrible mistakes to avoid. Make your book stand out for all the right reasons.

This is a sister book to Write A Great Synopsis, but this time the focus is on UK-style covering letters to help you net a UK agent. UK covering letters are a lot more laid back than US queries (by which I mean you won’t get instantly rejected dun dun duuun if it’s not perfect) but they’re still important enough to stress writers out.

“Dear Agent” is a short, sweet, and to-the-point read that covers all the important questions, such as should I mention multiple books, being rejected, my pets, or that my mum liked it…

It also pays special attention to the tricky bits: that dreaded hook, how to write the bio section even if nothing very interesting has happened to you, and how to inject a bit of personality into the letter. It covers both fiction and non-fiction, multiple Points of View, and other sticky situations that can make the thought of summing it up in a letter more nerve-wracking than it needs to be.

If you’re new to the submission process, or trying out the UK system for the first time after submitting in the US, then this is a great starting point. Authors who’ve been submitting in the UK or US will already be familiar with a lot of the advice, but the tips are still useful no matter how long you’ve been wading in the query trenches.

Emma Maree Reviews: Save the Cat!

 Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

Genre: Non-Fiction/Writing Advice

One of Hollywood’s most successful spec screenwriters tells all in this fast, funny, and candid look inside the movie business. “Save the Cat” is just one of many ironclad rules for making your ideas more marketable and your script more satisfying – and saleable. This ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a show biz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat.

A clear, well-written guide to presenting your story to other people. It’s aimed at screenwriters, but it’s also a well-known tool for fiction and non-fiction writers. A lot of the information (such as know your genre, have a one line pitch) will be familiar to anyone who’s been following writing blogs or lurking in the query trenches, but if not then it’s a great place to start.

It covers lots of essential information, including genres, character archetypes, and my personal favourite the ‘beat sheet’, which breaks down most plots into a simple structure and can be very helpful for working out pacing problems and structural issues.

Blake can come across as irritating with his every-other-page self-promotion. I loved when he pulled out popular movies for examples of genres and styles, but I got sick of him reference his own ever-so-successful films and TV ideas. I’d never heard of any of them. This would have been fine in a smaller dose, but there was just too much of it.

I think I’ll dip into this book occasionally when I need a refresher on cliches, tropes, and plot structures – but it’s a difficult book to read from start to finish without Snyder’s comments getting on your nerves.