The First Time I Got Paid For It
Edited by Peter Lefcourt and Laura J. Shapiro.
This is one of my favorite books on the business. Maybe because it's very much like our podcast: real writers telling real stories. There are some crabby postings on Amazon about this book, criticizing it for not fulfilling whatever expectations the readers came to the table with. It isn't "inspirational" enough. Or the stories are about how hard it was to break in until some better connected friend opened a door. The whining pissed me off enough I actually wrote my first Amazon review. People need to get a grip on the very, very basic truth that writing for Hollywood is NOT winning the lottery. As well assume that all coal miners stumble across the Hope Diamond, 'cause, y'know, diamonds are carbon and it just makes sense that if you dig awhile you'll hit one.
Okay, the odds aren't THAT bad, but you take the point.
I found these stories entertaining and inspirational in the much more grounded sense: these people (mostly) worked hard for a long time and it paid off. Some of the stories are funny, some are alarming, some are just plain weird. Some of these writers aren't as good at writing prose as you'd think. But the one thing all of these stories share is that they were written by people who've actually made some success in Hollywood.
Good, bad, or weird, this is what they chose to say about breaking in, and it's therefore valuable reading for anyone else thinking about trying to do the same.