Saturday, November 29, 2008
But now there is another name to add to the roster: Charles Dickens. His scholars surely already have known this, but I only just learned from Jonathan Yardley's review of a new book that he paid to have A Christmas Carol published because his publishers were not interested. In Yardley's words quoting the author: His publisher, Chapman and Hall, expressed little enthusiasm for the book, so Dickens decided to have the firm bring it out "for publication on his own account." All the risk would be his own: "He would be responsible for the costs of the book's production, which would be deducted from its sales. He would also oversee the book's design, hire its illustrator, and consult on its advertising. In essence, his publishers -- which would receive a fixed commission tied to sales -- had become merely his printer. In contemporary terms, then, A Christmas Carol was to be an exercise in vanity publishing."
The book is The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford (Crown 2008).
So perhaps you ask, "Hey Book Blogger, you're a Washingtonian, so why don't you point out great humor writing in The Washington Post?" The Post does have occasional writing that makes me smile, but much of it is too often obvious and lowbrow. I don't respond to it in an "I'm above this" way, but rather in a "potty humor is lame and too easy" way. Some of the Post's writers have earned kudos for their humor writing, and the recent humor Pulitzer was well deserved, but the day-to-day level of the wit could be better. If I see something, though, I'll post it.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
"Like all poets, I have hazarded a submission to POETRY magazine. Like all poets, I received my generic rejections--three times over. I crossed paths with the editor and sent again, hopeful; again, rejected (though gracefully, with a personal note, by which I mean a hand-scribbled sentence). When I sent again, I stacked the deck: a long poem, a formally acrobatic poem, an ekphrasis. I'm not sure if there's any particular code-cracking to POETRY--as safes go, it is dynamite-proof--but somehow, I made it in. Three poems forthcoming! (She says, before fainting in exhaustion and relief.)"
Besides the "I'm a genius" assumption, many authors come to me after one or two rejections, heart-in-hand, crushed that they weren't loved enough to be published (yet). Huh? I usually smile and say I don't want to hear any complaints until at least rejection number 30. Authors tend to exaggerate the number of times they actually tried, and they also think that rejections are even remotely personal. In fact, they're so impersonal that unless you made a particularly strong impression for some reason, you can probably try again in a week with no fear of even being recognized, let alone spotted as "That doofwad dreamer we so wisely bounced last time."