As If It Weren’t Depressing Enough

June 4th, 2004 · 1 Comment
by Booksquare

Being an author is sort of like, well, the life of the slug we accidentally squished last night (we do feel very bad about the abrupt end of life and will do something karmically good this weekend, though we’re not sure how we’ll fit it in, what with our quarterly “we must do something about this garage” day occuring on Saturday). It seems just as you crawl out of the slush pile, you’re crushed in a new and different way. For example, a woman famous for sex and a frank blog is (we’re sure) on the verge of a book deal. She’ll probably get one of those advances that fall into the range of never-to-be-recouped. She hasn’t, particularly, exhibited a talent for writing, nor has she exhibited a talent for constructing anything longer than a few paragraphs. But she’ll be overpaid while another author will toil in obscurity. We don’t mean us, of course…. Because Ben Brown runs a small press, and because we actually own a book from said press, we’ll include a link here.

File Under: Books/Mags/Blogs

1 response so far ↓

  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden // Jun 5, 2004 at 5:57 pm

    Jessica Cutler isn’t taking money out of anyone’s pockets. All writers whose books aren’t a sure thing are subsidized by writers whose books are. The distribution is uneven, but the principle is true.

    Also, she hasn’t made a deal yet.

    You and Ben Brown should stop moping about whether her angling for a book deal “proves” something about the mainstream press. If she gets one, it’ll be perfectly clear what it proves: that the mainstream press has an enduring interest in subjects the public is eager to read about. In this case, the appeal is obvious. Jessica Cutler is an uninhibited and confiding young woman who writes in a breezy style about perennially engaging subjects: sex, Washington politics, sex and Washington politics, and what really goes on in your senator’s office, anyway. This may or may not get her a book deal, but it’ll get her a certain amount of public attention until she runs out of stories to tell.

    Let’s suppose she makes a book deal. Worse, let’s suppose it turns out to be a bestseller … and that she sells a second, and a third, and perhaps even a fourth. What do you say then? You say “Good for her.” Because hat would mean that readers who bought one book by her liked it enough to buy another, and liked that one too, and bought still more. Never sneer. A reader who buys and enjoys any book is likelier to buy and read another; and somewhere along the line, the book they buy and read may be yours.

    The only way Ms. Cutler can take anything away from you is if you, too, are a ditzy young lady trying to sell a book about sex, the Senate, and Washington life in general, and Ms. Cutler beats you out. You aren’t, are you? I must say, you don’t sound like one.

    Speaking of sounded-like things, Ben Brown ought not make remarks like the one about how Jessica Cutler’s tell-all article in the Guardian was “…the final nail in the coffin of the idea that mainstream publishing cares at all about quality.” He is of course free to say anything he wants. What he should realize is that it’s impossible to say things like that without sounding like you’re saying “They bought her book, but not mine?” This is true whether or not you’re actually thinking that when you say it; and it never sounds good.