Sunday, August 18, 2019

An Insightful Book about Publishing -- "The Novel"

I just finished reading James A. Michener's "The Novel," a multi-layered book about publishing, rural life, diverse characters, and writing.

While the novel has its shortcomings—it's a slow read—it provides insights into the book-publishing industry, even though it was released in 1991, before the digital age and the advent of ebooks. 

Michener, a prolific author of more than 40 books (including a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for "Tales of the South Pacific"), writes about what happens after a manuscript is sent to a publisher. And unless the author is a Stephen King, Danielle Steel,  or John Grisham (you get the idea), the book goes through several steps (slush pile, editing, rewriting, marketing, and promotion) before it sees the light of day. 

James A. Michener
Michener approached this 400-plus page novel with four points of view (author, editor, critic, and reader), with each confronting their own personal and professional challenges. He even throws in a murder near the end that takes the story off track. 

For those who want to understand the publishing process, "The Novel" fills that need. The book was recommended to me by an avid reader who found the publishing aspect fascinating. And as a published author, I found it interesting as well. 

Another aspect about Michener that caught my attention was that he was 84 when "The Novel" was published, and he went on to write four more books before he died in 1997 ("Matecumbe" was published posthumously in 2007).

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