Review: Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner

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Betsy Lerner’s “Forest for the trees” is part biography and part publishing advice. While this book is not strictly speaking a how to write book, Ms. Lerner provides valuable insight into the publishing business and psyche of the writer.

Ms. Lerner outlines the specific types of writers and their personalities: the Ambivalent Writer, the Natural, the Wicked Child, the Self-Promoter, and the Neurotic. She follows these outlines with examples of specific authors she worked with during her time as an editor.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this book is the publishing advice. Who is more qualified to give advice on editor-writer relationships than an editor? She dedicates a chapter to making contact with agents and publication.

Make sure to check out her dos and don’ts for query and manuscript submission. You will also benefit from her advice on interpersonal communication skills between you as the author and your agent, editor and publisher. She provides advice regarding rejection as well as information regarding what editors want.

Her final two chapters contain some of the most valuable information: the Book and Publication. She outlines the process that the book will go through prior to publication including re-writes and jacket art. She also advises what to expect when publishing time comes and to keep a realistic perspective regarding the sale of your book.

Even if you don’t find the experiences (biography) portion useful, the addition of the publishing advice and her insight into the mind of a writer makes this book a good buy.


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