How to Write Personal Essays Using The Byline Bible

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I received this book for free from Bookish First in exchange for an honest review. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that if it's bad, I'll say so, regardless of how I received the book.

How to Write Personal Essays Using The Byline BibleThe Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks by Susan Shapiro
Published by Writer's Digest Books on August 21, 2018
ISBN: 1440353689
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Source: Bookish First
Buy on Book Depository

All readers are wannabe writers, right? Well, not exactly with me. I have no desire to write a novel, but I have considered writing short articles once or twice, which is why The Byline Bible by Susan Shapiro caught my attention.

Disclosure: I admit I’ve only read 20% of The Byline Bible. It’s too good, and I can’t read it all in time to meet my deadlines. It’s also why there’s no giveaway for this book. I want to keep it, read it all, and reference it many times.

Really, it is that useful. I keep getting distracted and start making lists of essays that I can write and have published. I have gone from never wanting to write a novel to planning personal essays and wondering which stories can make a full book.

Susan Shapiro is a professor, teaching more than 25,000 students non-fiction writing and how to get published. She designed the course to teach what she wishes she learned in school: how to make money from your writing.

In the book, Susan takes writers through writing the essay. The first chapter gives many examples of introductory paragraphs from her published pieces (referenced) and those of her students. She references David Sedaris many times as the kind of essays and stories she teaches to her students, and that editors buy. Susan explains why and how to make it instantly engaging. I liked the original sentence and the improved sentence examples. From the first 20%, she mentions being cheeky or daring with your writing several times, and accept it will insult people. Twice she says that if you want to be nice, write a cookbook. I can see how even a cookbook may offend, but I get her point. All the best stories have drama.

I only made it to the first assignment (the font sizes are tiny to pack in more tips), but they take the writer through the process. She stresses how much research is needed. You research, and fact check your story, and you study potential publications to ensure it’s a good fit to be published. I love the little tips, like keeping records like love letters to support your story if an upset jilted lover from your essay claims slander. Her advice is precise too: don’t embellish the truth or pass fiction off as fact.

I know I’ll be a better article writer from applying the knowledge in The Byline Bible, and hopefully, get paid and published. It has already helped: I changed the headline of a piece I want to pitch to a large book news site. Fingers-crossed they accept it, but I should finish working through The Byline Bible first.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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More about Bianca

Bianca's a nerdy, book worm who is constantly curious and appreciates being alive while the internet exists. During the day, she's a content writer for a huge multinational tech company. The rest of the time she's reading, and running, and bike riding, and sipping coffee, and taking photos around Melbourne, Australia.

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