Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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Great critique, Dan, but why not just try adding "if you want to succeed in society as it is currently constituted" to everything Dr. Larbalestier says? Also to fortune-cookie mottos. Interstingly, line-editing your books (or seeing that they get line-edited) is part of a writer's job, and even paying for corrections in the second printing of your books is part of a writer's job in the case of some publishers. At some point, thinking about how things useta was been and should still be gets too painful.


"Just a residual sense that your book has been officially pronounced fit by people who know good writing when they see it? Does anyone any longer believe that they do?"

A good word on behalf of editors: I have never, never had an editor who seemed "unfit." One book at Godine, four at FSG, one at LSU, plus six paperback reprints at various places, Harcourt and Bard, etc.: their editors were "fit" people. Sometimes they were very, very smart people. They were certainly quite capable when it came to line editing and interesting suggestions. (I have, however, never been asked to make large changes to a book that was being edited, so I haven't experienced that part of an editor's work.)

And there are some places that still have sterling copy editors who will double-check everything--not just grammar but house contruction in a certain county in England in the 17th century, say, or the action of a particular firearm. Picky writers (the ones who don't need a copy editor so much but dream of perfection) cherish those people.

I'm not in any way attempting to argue you out of anything else you have to say. You're certainly correct about what writers are expected to do, though there are hardcovers that receive a lusty "push" from a publisher. (Not mine, certainly!) Most have some amalgam of promotion by publisher plus the writer.

I don't think, however, that you are considering distribution as part of the equation. We happen to live in a rather large country, one with established methods of distribution. Getting your book on shelves, making a "national sale" to chains, and selling your book to the library trade: these things are rather difficult for the lone writer.

If one has the time and the energy to devote to founding a press that can both produce quality work and kick well on promotion and distribution, I think that publishing your own work (and that of others) is a wonderful way to go.

As for going it alone with a book, I don't know. It seems that such an enterprise works best for a person with no spouse or children and lots of nerve, who has the time to drive about the countryside flogging books.

If you plan to "self-publish" your own book, I think it would be an interesting thing to hear about the steps toward the book and toward success... I imagine that you and the readers of The Reading Experience would learn something--what, I don't know.


Does anyone think that Flaubert would have promoted his own books? Or Tolstoy? Going to Oprah? Promoting his own book is certainly something a writer may do if he wants it, but it´s no more his job than distributing visiting cards is part of a dentist´s job.

Lynne W. Scanlon

I feel it is a huge mistake to assume you can write a book, hand it over to a publisher, and sit back and wait for the money to pour in. If you want a sustained effort to promote your book, you'll be one the doing it, not the marketing department of a publishing house; they go through the motions for a limited time period, and then move on to the next book. If you have "bundled talents," use them.

The Internet allows you to have enormous economy of motion when it comes to promoting a book. Radio interviews allow you to stay in your pajamas and never leave the house. The cost is nominal, if anything, except for your time. (You didn't want to leave the house anyhow, did you?)

Only take your car out of the garage for a Sunday drive with the family, I say.


Steve Clackson

If you want to be a published writer with decent sales and a readership that will grow with each of your books you have to do as much PR as you can.
Welcome to the new millenium where few Tolstoy's or
Flauberts exist.

Dan Green

"Welcome to the new millenium where few Tolstoys or
Flauberts exist."

Which sort of makes the whole endeavor of writing, reading, and discussing books mostly beside the point.

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