Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Dope

"So I bought this novel recently: a foreign publisher gave me a tip, long story short, the agent and the author and me, it's one of those love-at-first-sight things..." --Mar. 24, 2005

Hi, it's me. Max.

Long ago and in a land far, far away, I wrote in this space about editing a novel I'd acquired, and of the singular satisfactions that came from that experience. Of the dozens of posts I wrote during the six or seven months of BookAngst 101, "What makes it all worthwhile" was my favorite, the one that best captured the myriad rewards that the editorial life can provide when the stars allign.

It seemed to strike a nerve with readers too--perhaps because it was about the joy of the process, as opposed (for once) to the innumerable frustrations and disappointments experienced so frequently on all sides of the writing/publishing/bookselling universe. Or maybe it was because it was a story with a happy ending. An editor fairly in awe of his talented author, and grateful to have been granted such access and trust; an author, it might be inferred, who gets the editor she deserves.

Whatever the case, that "report" seems to have represented the high-water mark in the short, happy life of Mad Max Perkins. I gauge this both by the nature of the comments that it elicited, and by the fact that so many of you expressed interest in finding out more about the author and the book.

That interest was both gratifying and encouraging; for me it had the effect of making a little bit less preposterous the preposterous notion that's at the core of every author/editor partnership. Not just that we might be able to make a great book, but also that, somehow, this great book might wind up being embraced to some reasonable degree beyond the walls of our little two-seat incubator.

* * *
Ten months later, that book now exists. It's got a handsome cover, blurbs from a number of generous authors whose work I admire, and handful of pre-pub reviews (including a starred Kirkus, sez he proudly). A second printing is already in the works. Sometime in the next week or two, I'm going to have the experience of walking into a bookstore and seeing this book "live" for the very first time. (A special feeling, that.) One thing that I know for sure: if the books aren't where I want them to be when I arrive, they'll be there by the time I leave. Another thing: I'll linger in a semi-predatory fashion. On two prior such occasions that I know about for sure, my innocent comments to a book-in-hand browser have resulted in confirmed, watched-'em-all-the-way-to-the-cash-register sales. I'll be gunning for more this time around.

* * *
Back in March, a lot of people sent me comments to the effect of

Wow. I want to read this book. How are we going to know to run out and get it when it hits the shelves?

If you're still interested? The novel--DOPE--goes on sale any day now. The author--Sara Gran--has a website, and a blog, and two previous novels. And an editor who, though he should know better, can't help but be excited about what might unfold in the weeks ahead.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dope sounds like an offbeat, good book, but then "offbeat" usually equals "good" to me. Is there an excerpt posted somewhere? I can't seem to find one.

Quite a few moons ago, I worked on two nonfiction books (for Da Capo--I didn't get name credit or anything, nor did I work with the authors directly, but I did all the line-by-line work and analysis on the initial proofs). I've never read the published versions. I enjoyed working on one book so much, sometimes I think about buying a copy; other times I cringe at that thought. When I was in-the-moment editing something or am in-the-moment writing something, I could and can easily look at that something. But once that moment's done, I usually see too much stuff I'd like to change. Guess I'm like those actors who can't easily view the final results of their own film acting.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you back, Max.

M Harold Page said...

Welcome back!

Jayme Lynn Blaschke said...

Despite some niggling annoyances he points out, Bill Crider has generally positive things to say about DOPE. And Crider's a fellow with high standards (weird standards, sure. But high nonetheless). Here's the link to his blog entry:
http://billcrider.blogspot.com/2006/01/dope-sara-gran.html

Buffy said...

Checking Amazon now......

Anonymous said...

Your enthusiasm is infectious and that alone is enough to peak my curiosity. But what really sold me on buying the book is the relationship between editor (you) and writer (Sara) – and how the creative process of two minds can create a masterpiece. I don’t know that DOPE is a masterpiece. What I know is that you think it’s a masterpiece and you gave me a look into your process as an editor and how you work with writers, and in turn, you gave me a small glance at the author.

As a side note: I came here today because I am doing a write-up about this blog, which I happened upon a few weeks ago, maybe as long as month ago. I have a small writing resource directory attached to my blog and I’m writing about some of the sites I have listed in the directory. When I last visited this blog, the last post was your good-by speech, so I was a little surprised to see this post. It would be great if you continue posting – I love your writing style and the information is exceptional. I would have been in writers heaven had something like this been around when I was actively pursuing a writing career.

Since I believe the information here is a valuable resource for writers and since some of your old posts have been spammed by slimy spammers and since you are probably too busy to keep up with old posts and remove the comment spam and since I’d hate to see something good ruined by low-life-spammers, I’d like to offer you a possible alternative; one that I can guarantee zero comment spam. Drop me a note at glo (at) wild-mind.net, if you’re interested.

Anonymous said...

Missed you.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you gotta come back and start posting again on a regular basis. The posts don't have to be long. They don't have to be heavily researched. Just put some things on here that happen to be on your mind (about the book business).

I really miss your blog posts.

mb at reference said...

I think things must be going well for the book. I just checked our catalog: we've ordered Dope and there several library patrons are lined up waiting for its arrival. Yaay for you, and for Sara Gran. Keep posting.

sufferwords said...

Talk about Dope. I just stumbled on your site. Nice to see how the big fish swim.

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King Wenclas said...

It's still just another conglomerate product. No real literary excitement has come out of your skyscrapers in decades-- which is why literature is marginalized in this culture.
A lot of precious bourgeois wannabes who don't understand the essence of literature; well-trained robots lacking any idea of the authentic. My two cents.
Have a good day!

Anonymous said...

I think things must be going well for the book. I just checked and there several library patrons are lined up waiting for its arrival. Can't wait.

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The Dolphin Smiles said...

Max, thank God your back, love the details about watching your book make it to the cash register. It's a shame that the publishing world is as hard as it is and your blog makes it better! I invite you to mine-- davidsalvage.blogspot.com -- I write about a variety of current writers but if you've got a book and would like me to review it I'm seeking to expand in that direction. I also run a reading series on literture for a psychoanalytic society in New York and am always interested in putting events together for people. It can be great exposure to a readership! Cheers, David Salvage

Jenna said...

Congratulations to both you and Sara. Hope the book soars!

Anonymous said...

Hope the book does great. Waiting to see it in Video Book Review!

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welcome back dude

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