A Moment of Jen
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Friday, December 03, 2004
posted by Jen at 12/03/2004 10:12:00 AM

I've been working for a few days on a long post about blurbs, in the wake of the Hartford Courant story in which the author seemed shocked -- shocked, I say! -- to learn that A., asking for blurbs is really humiliating; B., sometimes authors blurb works by their students/lovers/children, or those published by the same house or represented by the same agent; and C., Elinor Lipman really likes having her ass kissed.

The point of the long post was going to be that A., yes, asking for blurbs is really humiliating, but being the ask-ee instead of the ask-er is not necessarily any better; B., it's actually not that horrifying to consider an author blurbing other books represented by the same agent or acquired by the same editor. After all, if an agent or editor likes your book enough to take it on, you, the author, might also enjoy other books they've acquired, and be inclined to give a quote not because of back-scratching or log-rolling but because, hey, you really liked the thing and C., I wonder what's going to happen to Wally Lamb -- one of the authors interviewed for the story -- now that Oprah "I pick dead people" Winfrey presumably won't endorse his next novel.

On the one hand, the prognosis for the post-Oprah publications of her book club picks -- especially if she bestowed her imprimatur on their debut efforts, instead of picking a mid-career work -- has been pretty dire.

Even if you write a book that's just as good, if not better, than the one Oprah loved, it seems like it never attracts the same level of interest, or sales, as the first one. It's one of the reasons I'm sort of glad, in hindsight, that GOOD IN BED wasn't an Oprah pick. Sure, I would have loved it at the time, but, looking back, the book got a chance to grow slowly, organically, by word of mouth, and the subsequent books weren't published in the shadow of sales and review attention they could never hope to match.

On the other hand, if anyone's managed to build his own audience, instead of just borrowing Oprah's, I think it would be Lamb. (Who, by the way, gave my agent the flat-out "Not blurbing anything!" when she asked him to take a look at GOOD IN BED. Which was not, as it turned out, precisely true. But whatever. Not bitter! Go Wally!)

So I was going to write this long post, but we came back from Thanksgiving to find that the door to the garden had either been left open or had blown open, and now we have some little furry visitors, and every time I walk past the kitchen, I swear I hear something squeaking, so I'm a little preoccupied.

Speaking of preoccupation, the girl is obsessed with....eyebrows. "Eye-bow!" she'll crow, touching mine. Then her own. Then she'll pat the bed. "Wen-gell, come-come!" she'll say imperiously. When the dog hops onto the pillow for her inspection, she'll check out his face carefully, then say, "No eye-bow!" She seems very upset about this, like maybe Wendell's been cheated out of his eyebrows, and that some dark night he'll try to take hers.
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