The Tangled Web of Accountability

Last week, when, in our comments section, several minor piles of waste byproduct were hurled with force at the circulating cooling device, Candy and I were emailing each other back and forth about writing, accountability, and who you blame when the stuff you read sucks a butt.

Laura Kinsale’s essay challenges some of our discussion with each other, but as we’re somewhat outsiders to the publishing industry, and as we’re Smart Bitches with endless opinions and bandwidth on which to voice them, we figured we’d share our rumination and invite discussion.

Unless you’re tired of the topic, in which case, Man-titty! Talk amongst yourselves.

Sarah

Author vs. reader arguments are hard to read because it brings up all this latent stuff that exists when we discuss reviewing, bad reviews, Amazon, and royalty portions, because writing, although a solitary creative endeavor, is something of a service industry, but in service to whom?

That is a big question right there.

Is the writer in service to herself and her muse? Is she writing because she has a drive and a story and a goal to be published? Is she unable to prevent herself from writing, as some have described their experience? I’ve had that experience writing prose, where it was either “write this essay out of your brain or go nuts debating the topic in the confined space of your brain.”

Or is the writer in service to her publisher, the person who pays for her work and edits and markets it?

Or is the writer in service to her readership? Are the people who read her writing the clients of her labor? I feel often as a reader that when I pay full price for a book that sucked an ass that somebody let me down. But is the writer accountable for quality in her product?

Candy

What? You’re trying to get me to think right before lunch? Don’t think I’m not on to you and your tricks, missy!

The three options you provide aren’t mutually exclusive, though some aspects of each are in tension with each other. How each author resolves these tensions probably differs quite drastically.

I think that most authors do it because it’s a labor of love. I know exactly what you mean about the pressure to write—I can feel a physical sensation that builds up in my head and my chest when something is niggling at me, and it goes away only after I’ve set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, which doesn’t sound nearly as romantic). Makes me wonder about how pre-literate cultures deal with these sorts of pressures, or if they feel them in quite the same way people who can read and write do—I imagine that a lot of pre-literate cultures are too busy surviving and working to have the sort of leisure.

However, I don’t doubt some authors do it mostly for the money. The only service they care about is their wallet—and their egos. Perhaps they didn’t start out this way, but initial successes allowed them to work the system.

I’m not sure the writer is in service to the publisher, necessarily—the relationship here is a lot more tangled than that, I think. I’ll need to ponder on this a bit more, and get back to you later.

And I absolutely think that the author is accountable for putting out a shitty product. It’s not only the author’s fault; the publisher shoulders a good deal of the responsibility, too.

But on the flip side, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to pander too much to the audience, because let’s face it, unlike the two of us (who have FABULOUS tastes in everything), sometimes people love and demand drek. That’s perhaps where the biggest tension lies: the need for the author to create a commercially viable work while retaining her artistic integrity.

Sarah:

Think before lunch! Email before food? Damn right! I am a vicious taskmistress and have a big whip. Or, keyboard.

And I know exactly what you mean about the I Have to Write feeling. It never happens with fiction for me, as my fiction voice is a weak, shy thing that doesn’t know what to do with itself, but for prose, essays, etc, esp. on the online journal, there are things I have to Get Out Now and the only way to do that is keyboard in hand, ass in chair. Occasionally I grab a pen and sketch out ideas on paper, but it’s rare.

The integrity vs. profit thing is a big fish, to be sure. I know one author I spoke to had a major problem with the way RWA allows itself to be pushed around by publishers, and how the romance market, despite appearing to grow, gets ever more narrow. I was shocked when she said it, but after some thought, she’s right. There’s a lot of vampires and paranormal, but that “expansion,” which isn’t really because it’s turning into cookie cutters of the same, arrives at the expense of other genres that are being shut down.

The peculiar thing about the author/publisher relationship is that in some ways they are in service to each other, but in rapidly unbalancing ways. The author submits her work to the publisher for review and editing, and the publisher shapes it for publication, but the publisher wouldn’t have product without the author (or without the Harvard undergrad to put her name and face on the promotional materials at least). And once a writer is under contract for more than one manuscript, it gets very tangled, as you say.

Candy:

Caveats up front: Have not published anything. Very likely never will. Am very much on the outside looking in. And what I say does not apply to all publishers across the board, and a lot of what I’m talking about covers what’s happened (and is still happening) to mass media in America in general, and not just romance novels.

In short, what we have in modern publishing is an oligopoly, and as has always been the case when an effective oligopoly is set up, the people running the show get to dictate terms. There are a huge number of people trying to get published, and only a few publishing houses out there—and if we take into account the big, big publishers that are responsible for over 90% of the books (especially fiction) that’s stocked in bookstores, then we’re talking about a tiny, tiny number of big names. The names that immediately occur to me are Hachette Book Group (which owns Little, Brown and Co. and Warner Publishing), Random House (which runs Ballantine, Bantam, Dell, Doubleday and Knopf), HarperCollins (imprints include Avon, Harper, Harper Perennial, Eos and William Morrow), Penguin Putnam (Berkley, Viking, Penguin, Puffin, New American Library, Signet [actually, does the Signet imprint exist any more?], G.P Putnam, Riverhead Books, Dutton), Simon & Schuster (Scribner, Simon & Schuster, MTV Books, Pocket Books, Downtown Press, Touchstone, Atria), Macmillan (St. Martin’s Press, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Pan, Picador, Tor) and, of course, Harlequin (Harlequin, Silhouette, Mira, Red Dress Ink, Luna). I may be missing a couple of names, but I think these are the big ones.

So these huge multi-national conglomerates run the show, and as several readers have noted, there’s a definite push towards treating authors as raw labor and books as some sort of a mass-produced, interchangeable product. This is something that makes me deeply uncomfortable, my snarky analogies comparing grammar to car engines notwithstanding, because books aren’t fungible, dammit, the way car parts are. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko isn’t the same thing as Savage Thunder by Cassie Edwards. Hell, Savage Thunder by Johanna Lindsey isn’t the same thing as Savage Thunder by Cassie Edwards.

(Side note: What are the freakin’ odds that there would be TWO books with such hideous titles running around. I mean, next thing I know, somebody’s going to tell me there are two different books out there entitled Eager Hot Butt. Oh, wait….)

Anyway, the “books are commodities” sort of attitude seems more prevalent in genre fiction, and seems especially evident in much of romance publishing in America. The publishers seem to abdicate much of their responsibility once their book has been printed. Plagiarism? The author’s fault. Book tanked? Well, shit, the author should’ve marketed the book more effectively. And by the way, amnesiac vampire cowboys are hot hot hot, so please write those, set in Regency England, if at all possible. What, you have a sweeping non-paranormal, non-amnesiac romance set in ancient Egypt? Well, can’t the hero have really, really sharp teeth and occasionally forget his name? And instead of pyramids and sand in 2030 BC, how about you set it in, say, Bath in 1811?

Not to say this treatment is the same across the board. Superstar authors like Stephen King could shit out a phone book sideways and someone will still publish it and market the hell out of it (actually, I’d argue that this has happened already—dude, why the fuck was Gerald’s Game ever published, and more importantly, why did I feel like I had to finish reading it?).

More often than not, I get the feeling that the publishers don’t really give a crap one way or another about ensuring that the books they release are as good as they can make it; they mostly want to get product out and on the shelves. And like Robin said somewhere on AAR (I think the post has been deleted by now), there’s little incentive for publishers to change their ways because by the time readers have realized they have some deeply flawed product on their hands, they’ve already paid for it.

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Megan says:

    I love the way you guys analyze this stuff. Nothing to add, except—no, nothing to add. Thanks.

  2. 2
    Tonda says:

    The three options you provide aren’t mutually exclusive, though some aspects of each are in tension with each other. How each author resolves these tensions probably differs quite drastically.

    This sums it up nicely for me. First and foremost as one of those people who have to write I’m in service to myself. I’m writing the best book I can write. Secondly I’m in service to my publisher (who is, after all, the gatekeeper), who is buying my book based on the fact that they think enough people out there will plop down their hard earned $$$ for it to make publishing my book worth their while. Thirdly I’m in service to the reader, who, if I’ve done my job and written a kick-ass book, and my publisher has done their job and put a good cover and blurb on it (by good I mean not misleading) then the reader will hopefully be well serviced by us all (wow does that sound sluttly).

    What happens too often for my liking is that there is a breakdown somewhere in the line.

    You get a sweet, Regency-esque cover for a HOT book . . . and it doesn’t sell (and the readers who buy it looking for a Traditional feel fucked off and give you one-star reviews that call your book porn).

    You get a sizzling hot cover and they call your book Sweet Savage Nookie and the one and only sex scene is in the penultimate chapter (and the readers who buy it looking for HOT get fucked off and give you one-star reviews that call your book dull).

    Whose fault is this? Mostly I’m going to pass the buck and say it’s the publisher’s fault (to get even more specific, I’m going to lay the blame before the doors of making and art like a flaming bag of dog shit). I don’t get to pick my cover (hell, I didn’t even get to pick my title), and most of us don’t have ANY control over the back blurb (I thank my lucky stars that I got to help draft mine!).

    You write the best book you can and then HOPE HOPE HOPE that the stars that rule the marketing department align and all goes well for you.

  3. 3
    Stephanie says:

    Not much to add here either, except to say… Gerald’s Game. God.

  4. 4
    Stephen says:

    Having just sent my nth rewrite back to my agent a few minutes ago, I know exactly who I am (re)writing for at the moment. But I also know that if I didn’t trust completely that she was helping me make my book better I would probably not be doing it. So I am still writing for me, but for her, my future publisher and future readers like y’all too. It only really works if we all like it in the end. There will be compromises on the way, but so far (and things may be different here in Brit-land) I have seen no sign of undue pressure to conform to other people’s fixed ideas (also, I’m not writing category romance, where the pigeon-holing and tight sub-genre definitions are possibly at their least forgiving).

    When it comes to reader reaction, and a feeling that a book is a pile of poo, I think that there are three possibilities.

    First, it really is a pile of poo. If it’s from a first or second-time author then I would not blame them, but their editor, who should never have let it go out like that, or possibly at all.  If it is from a more experienced writer riding on their reputation, then things are different. Bad writer, no cookie.

    Second, it isn’t what it claims to be. Tonda covers this one very well. Probably not the author’s fault, but somebody goofed.

    Third and last, it just isn’t the book that you, dear reader, hoped it would be, despite the fact that it never actually promised you a rose garden – lit fic without a happy ending, say, or SF without guns ‘n’ robots. It happens. In that case I think that you just have to take it on the chin. I didn’t write it for you, oh so very dear reader, and if you didn’t like it, well that’s a pity, but it isn’t really anybody’s fault.

    Or is that all a load of bollocks? Look! Over there! Man-titty!

  5. 5
    anu439 says:

    I don’t get the argument here. Is it about how in Romance, like in the rest of mass media, corporatization has resulted in homogenized crap? Is this news?

    Also, I feel like there’s some conflation going on between the writer’s relationship to her *art* and her *fans*, and the publisher’s relationship to its *product* and its *customer base*. Whatever a writer’s personal relationship with her story, I hope she’s enough of a businesswoman to understand that her *art* becomes a *commodity* once she shops it around in an effort to get *paid* for her *labor*. I’m emphasizing certain words here not to be bitchy (that’s just a bonus), but because the terms have specific meanings and assumptions in the marketplace, and I get impatient with the idea that publishers have any obligations beyond the contractual and other legal parameters in which they operate.

    The publisher has no obligation to experiment. It has no obligation to art or literature or any other lofty ideal. It doesn’t even have an obligation to fix the typos. It *should* do all that if it has any appreciation of quality, standards, reputation, and care for the written word, but it’s not *bound* to care about these things.

    And why is that?

    Because of the customer base. If lack of quality resulted in lack of sales—I’ll be optimistic and even throw in the possibility of a vociferous group of customers—the situation might change. But as Romance customers on even the AAR boards—certainly a critical bunch—have said, they’ll buy mediocre books, even when they know they’re mediocre, just because they want to read a Romance. Now really, where is the incentive to change with such a guaranteed customer base?? Experimentation takes money and effort and time; so does fixing typos. Why would any sane business bother doing that stuff if they know their customers are gonna buy regardless?

    This is not to say that publishers aren’t responsive. They know better than any of us here to the thousandth percentage point the falloff in sales over the last five years, say. That’s why we see new lines touting kick-ass heroines, paranormals, erotic romance, etc. This strategy may not please everyone, but there’s no reason to believe that publishers aren’t responding as they feel they must to the shifting marketplace. After all, for us it’s about a good read, for the publisher, it’s survival.

    Money talks. Why the romance customer base chooses to be the publishers’ bitch rather than flexing its market power is beyond me. I just do not understand the concept of buying a romance just because it is a romance. I mean, I’ve done it, but only occasionally. Generally, I rarely buy romance anymore, and then usually only after I’ve read it in the bookstore or through the library, or if it’s a cheap e-book, or an unknown author. I’m very clear about the messages I send with my money. So if you hate the state of the romance publishing today, place the blame firmly on the customer. Not the writer, not the publisher, both of whom are generally responding to what’s coming off of store shelves.

    But this is all assuming that the vast majority of romance customers are unhappy with most romance, which I’m not ready to say. Just cuz most of us recognize the dreck that Cassie Edwards puts out doesn’t mean everyone does. Does everyone care about typos and grammar and flat characters and bland stories and stale settings? Really? I can’t fully accept that in world where Dan Brown and Danielle Steele are bestsellers.

    As for the relationship among authors, readers, and books: I don’t care whether an author believes that Barney is entering her dreams every night and singing her plotlines (though obviously…ew), or whether she calculatedly writes to market. I want a story I can fall into, characters I love, writing that moves me, that I can admire and savor. I don’t ask for much, do I?

    An author has responsibilities to her publisher, to her writing, her muse or whatever lofty imagery you want thrown in. I don’t see what responsibility she has to the reader. The reader is not owed a story, or for the story to go where they want it to, even clean copy. Again, it would be nice, but why do readers feel like they get ownership of anything but the copy they plunked down money for? You’re the idiot who bought it!

    (Continued in next post because I freaking hit the word limit, I mean can you believe I have THIS much fascinating stuff to say?? MAN are you guys lucky!)

  6. 6
    Beverly says:

    There’s a lot of vampires and paranormal, but that “expansion,” which isn’t really because it’s turning into cookie cutters of the same, arrives at the expense of other genres that are being shut down.

    Huh? What other genres are being shut down?

    (Side note: What are the freakin’ odds that there would be TWO books with such hideous titles running around. I mean, next thing I know, somebody’s going to tell me there are two different books out there entitled Eager Hot Butt. Oh, wait….)

    Ahem, not the same titles, not but check out what I found the other day because it’ll either make you laugh or groan: http://bevsbooks.com/?p=130
    I’m still scratching my head over this one.

    Anyway, back to the topic, I think you’re right that the big breakdown occurs somewhere between writing the book and it being published. And I do believe publishers are managing to lay blame for a lot of things onto the authors that the poor authors don’t have any control over in the first place.

  7. 7
    anu439 says:

    (continued from previous post)

    I guess readers feel betrayed because we *are* part of the storytelling process. Once a reader dives into a story, it becomes hers, not the author’s. Because while the reader re-creates in her mind the story that the author told, she really kinda doesn’t. The story unfolds differently for the author and for every reader. We picture different people, hear different voices, emphasize different scenes and phrases. It’s not the same as what the author wrote. So if the act of creation is personal for the author, it is no less so for the reader.

    Still, you may bitch as a *reader* of a book, but you’re not owed anything as a *customer* of the publisher.

    Happily, I have no obligations to anyone or anything as either a reader or a customer. I can be as rude as I want—which I won’t. I can bitch as much as I want—and I do. And I’ll return a book filled with typos—because I can.

  8. 8
    tisty says:

    Stephan, you made me snort my pepsi max!!!! And we are not so feeble that we are easily distracted by man titty. (oh wait a minute…..)

    On the upside, what your saying isn’t a complete load of bollocks. Maybe the problem is people get hung up on who a book is written for. The writers say they write it for themselves, the readers think it should be written for them, the publishers and agents also think they have a stake in it all. And don’t get me started on what my mother thinks!

    And perhaps we should remember that for every book we think is a pile poo, there is someone who think its great. It is all very subjective. My Hist rom has a blind heroine and when i was submitting it to every one who stood still long enough, the most common response i got was that you can’t sell a blind heroine, not as a first book.

    Guess what I sold it~!

    is it a load of poo? Possibly, but my mum thinks it’s great!!!!

  9. 9
    Beth says:

    Well, this article is timely and though it starts out about jut lit-fic, it ends up talking about the whole shebang, comcluding with “There is, after all, a difference between a reader and a market.” Which is ever so true.

  10. 10
    tisty says:

    comcluding?????

    What is that a euphamisim for? :-D

  11. 11
    Stef says:

    I’m just curious about the publishers pushing RWA around.  In what way?

  12. 12
    Beth says:

    Man, I need more sleep.

    Or more scotch.

    Or both.

    Hmmm.

  13. 13
    Lynn M says:

    Right now, as an unpublished entity, I feel like I’m writing for myself and myself alone. The stories I’m working on are ones that I want to tell. I try hard to find a happy medium between writing things the way I want them to be written and the way I believe will help them to sell, but since I’m still stupid and naive enough not to know better, I can lean toward writing it my way.

    However, I have this (scary) feeling that if/when I ever get published, things will change. My “hobby” will become a job, and if I want to make a living at it, I might have to be more flexible about taking advice from those who are supposedly in-the-know.

    And I already feel ambivalent about that. I honestly don’t know if I have that ability to be creative by committee, to have someone else tell me what kind of stories I can or can’t tell based on what’s hot and what’s not.

    As for who I blame when I purchase a real clunker, honestly, it’s usually the publisher. From what I understand, publishers reject pretty much 99.9999% of the stuff they get. Which means, to me, that they are looking for the best of the best of the best of the very very best. When I pick up a wallbanger, all I wonder is how in the world such crap managed to get published in the first place if so many things are getting passed by. If this piece of garbage in my hands was the best that the publisher could cull out of their mountains of manuscripts, what must all of those others be like?

  14. 14
    Candy says:

    anu439: you bring up several interesting points. I don’t have the time (or the brains, or the energy) to give them the attention and treatment they deserve, but I’m going to (inadequately) address some of your arguments:

    1. The whole free market/the consumer is the one with the most power and ultimately, the one to blame for shitty product: I have ambivalent feelings about this sort of argument. I think there’s some truth in it, but I think it ignores two important factors:

    a) A consumer can buy only what’s available in the marketplace. Take, for example, shirts. A couple of years ago, I wanted a plain long-sleeved button-down shirt in white or pale cream. Could I find one? Hell no. I found shirts with wacky cuffs, wacky collars, three-quarter length sleeves, shirts with patterns and furbelows galore, but NO PLAIN WHITE SHIRT. I was going nuts. In the end, I had to settle for a shirt that had semi-wacky oversized cuffs, but was otherwise plain and unobjectionable. I’m very conscious about voting with my dollars, too, but sometimes, when you can’t find what you want, you have to vote for the next best thing, y’know?

    I can’t help but feel that sometimes, the publishers don’t understand that what we’re reacting to isn’t so much a new idea or sub-genre so much as we are to excellent writing (whatever the hell that is). I’m more likely to pick a book up by a favorite author who’s demonstrated that she can write well and who branches into a new genre than to than to pick up a book that includes elements I happen to like but happens to be written by an unknown author.

    Which sort of illustrates one of the points discussed in the NYT article Beth linked to, about how people tend to like old favorites as opposed to new flavors.

    I do agree with you, however, that the on-line community seems a lot more critical than the average romance reader. It has to do with the fact that our sample is severely skewed. This would be especially true of Smart Bitches, because if nothing else, the name of the site tends to filter out certain types and attract others.

    b) Placing the responsibility solely on the shoulders of the consumer seems to assume that there’s some some sort of parity in information and bargaining power, when I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Marketing efforts and such can often obscure the truth about a product; for example, most people tend to assume that the “Recommended Reads” tags on bookstore shelves are endorsements by bookstore employees and other book lovers, when sometimes they’re bought and paid for by the publishers.

    2. Thank you for pointing out the reader’s crucial part in the storytelling process. Yes, yes and more yes.

    3. I don’t agree with you that readers, as customers and consumers, aren’t owed anything—though I’m willing to admit that this varies a great deal from country to country and culture to culture. Do you see all other products in the same light, by the way? Say, toaster ovens, stereos, shoes, etc. Not that books are quite the same thing, but I’m having a hard time coming up with something equivalent.

  15. 15

    Well I have personal experience to relate. I wrote a book about a duke (in this case he needed to be a duke, and he’s my one and only) and a lady’s companion. He was a gentle, kind soul, and she was shy and sweet, but not weak. She knew what she wanted and what she would put up with. They met in Scarborough, Yorkshire, and they went to York. A Regency that never went anywhere near London, and included a murder mystery (someone wanted to kill my duke – or was it the heroine?)

    I got two publishers (at different times) interested. They wanted me to make my duke more alpha, and give him a mistress. They wanted me to set the story in London, not Yorkshire. And they wanted my heroine (who was working as a lady’s companion) to be the secret daughter of an earl or something like that (she was the daughter of a country vicar).

    I couldn’t do it. Trying as hard as I could, the rewrites blanded the book out. I really didn’t want to, and I knew, once I’d done that, I’d be on the treadmill.

    I’m not rich, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So the book is out, but with a small publisher. I’m not sorry. It’s the book I wanted to do.

  16. 16
    --E says:

    Although it seems that the publishing world is monolithic and hidebound and driven to find “more of the same,” the fact remains that it does not.

    No one in the publishing industry knows what will be the next hot (sub)genre. No one in the industry really knows why a particular book by a heretofore unknown or midlist author suddenly took off. They guess it’s the subgenre, and scramble to publish more books “like the DaVinci Code” or to find books in their own backlist to repackage like DVC.

    (I’m going to use DVC as an example here, because it isn’t Romance. This situation is universal.)

    Will the readers of DVC like the other book? Some will, some won’t. Packaging—that is, the cover design, art, and copy—is all about signalling to the potential audience. Publishers want to link readers to books they think the readers will like.

    Even the marketing department understands that if you burn readers too often, they will no longer trust the color-coding. Does the other book have to be just like DVC? No, but it has to be in the ballpark; a thriller about stock brokers committing corporate fraud would not get the DVC-like cover.

    (Also, recall that every time a publisher puts a DVC-like cover on a book, they are eliminating the book from consideration by any reader who *didn’t* like DVC, or is bored by the subgenre.)

    All subgenre trends die eventually. It is a process subject to evolutionary forces: the market becomes saturated, the readers become bored. In the meanwhile, some author wrote a truly original novel that was three steps removed from the trend, morphing into a new trend.

    “Experimental” and wildly different is not evolutionary. Evolution happens with small changes over long periods of time. In an industry with as narrow a profit margin as book publishing, evolution is low-risk.

    It is also inevitable.

    The current fad for supernatural romance: how much of that can we credit to Laurell K. Hamilton, whose books were never published under a romance imprint? Or Anne Rice, who made vampires sexy and sympathetic in the first place? It may be a fad as a Romance subgenre, but its progenitors didn’t start there. It moved into Romance because the books become more Romance-oriented. (The flip side of that coin is Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books.)

    Sometimes I despair when another trend-chasing manuscript crosses my desk. But enough “different” (not exerimental) stuff passes as well that I have confidence the readers are being considered.

    As to the merde that sometimes gets published:

    1. One woman’s crap is another woman’s gold. If everyone liked the same thing, the world would be boring.

    2. Sometimes the publishers really do chase the trend. They want to make money. And sometimes they don’t get in as many supernatural-romances-starring-mystery-solving-Scottish-lairds-descended-from-Jesus as they would like. But they *really* need something to fill that #3 slot on the list 10 months hence, and a SRSMSSLDFJ crossed their desk that isn’t *too* bad… It happens. More often than any of us would like, but probably less often than any of us think.

    ———————

    Who is the author serving? I hope to god it’s the author. The problem is when the author’s service to self is in the pursuit of filthy lucre, and the author is writing books she doesn’t actually believe in.

    Yes, publishers will not want to publish an author’s book if it’s a hard sell. This is simple economics. The smart thing for an author to do is to have more than one trick in their bag, and to adapt to the market. If you’re writing dinosaurs and the market is looking for birds, poke around in your subconscious and see if there isn’t something in there with feathers—or at least leathery wings.

    The other thing a writer can do—and unfortunately it’s a lot harder to do than to say—is to write a book so fucking compelling that the genre is irrelevant. It helps if the author is able to say, “It’s sort of like Bestselling Book X” so the editor can get the marketing and sales people to understand why this is a book to push.

    (And, I don’t care what you’ve written, there is *some* book out there you can compare it to without being a total liar. If you can’t, then you are too gorram close to your book to see it. Ask your friends if they can bullshit some comparisons for you.)

    Gah. Too much blithering at the end of the work-day.

  17. 17
    Beverly says:

    Thank you, E, for a very thought provoking post.

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