Over the past 30 years I've been a bookstore clerk, a typesetter, a proofreader, a published novelist and a book critic — and I still...

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Over the past 30 years I’ve been a bookstore clerk, a typesetter, a proofreader, a published novelist and a book critic — and I still don’t have a clue as to why certain books get published and others don’t. Most readers and writers feel the same way, so maybe this new book by MacAdam/Cage founding publisher Pat Walsh will hit the spot.

Its title: “78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might” (Penguin, $14).

Walsh is nothing if not frank. Chapter titles in the book’s failure-focused section include “You Do Not Care About Language,” “You Cannot Tell a Story,” “You Fell for Self-Publishing Hype,” “You Submitted Your Work Too Early,” “You Scare Away Agents” and, the most devastating, “You Do Not Realize That Nobody Cares.”

Chapter titles in the much slenderer, success-focused section (24 pages vs. 170) include “You Do Your Homework” and “You Learn from Rejection.”

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Walsh’s tips are practical and well-informed, but they can also be brutal: “You can never forget that it is in the publishing industry’s best interest to reject you, discourage you, and ignore you. We — editors and agents, big and small — have more writers than we need.”

A better title for this book: “Reality Check.”

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic