REVIEW: How to Write and Sell True Crime by Gary Provost

Originally published 2016-07-13: Do all crimes make for good true crime books? How to Write and Sell True Crime by Gary Provost


I picked up How to Write and Sell True Crime for two reasons:

  1. It was cheap. (Library book sales, despite selling books for pennies on the dollar, take most of my money.)
  2. True crime? Yes, please!

I have always been interested in true crime books. I love reading about the depths of depravity people will sink to when money, lust, or covering their tracks is on the line. People do the sickest things – usually for the most ridiculous reasons.

So, a book about how to write true crime? I figured I’d give it a read and see if it struck a chord with me.

cover of nonfiction how to book How to Write and Sell True Crime by Gary Provost

Book Description

It all starts with a newspaper article depicting an unthinkable crime in a local community. From these headlines, a skilled writer can weave a full-length book – developing the characters, determining the motives, reporting on the judgment. That writer could be you.

If you’re fascinated by unusual crime stories; if you want to know how to determine which stories have book potential; if you want to learn how to ferret out the details, the motives, and the psychological dramas that make up these crimes, this book is for you. Gary Provost, author of several true crime books and numerous other titles walks you through the process of writing a true crime story.

My Rating

The book holds true to what the description promises. Though it’s a little dated (it was published in 1991), most of the advice in Gary Provost’s reference book is still relevant today. Even for those who choose not to pursue true crime, it has valuable tips for querying, research, and interviewing sources that will help most writers.

How to Write and Sell True Crime by Gary Provost gets four of five stars for delivering on its promise and giving me food for thought. Who knows… maybe I’ll write a true crime book one of these days.

This is book #16 on my quest to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks.


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