President’s Report: Every Book Has an Audience with Its Own Expectations, and Other Insights from an Editor

August 2005
by Kent Sturgis

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This month I want to share
with you a terrific book about publishing that is impressive in its insight,
wisdom, and unvarnished truth about our business. Every serious aspiring author
should read this book, and it has many applications for self-publishers and
independent book publishers, too.

Released this spring, 78 Reasons Why Your Book
May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might (Penguin,
trade paperback, 192 pages, $14) was written by Pat Walsh, founding editor of
the San Francisco-based literary publisher MacAdam/Cage. Walsh, a former
reporter for the San
Francisco Chronicle, describes himself as a “failed novelist.”

These were a few of the 78 reasons
that I could relate to from my own experience as a publisher:

You
listen to false praise.
“Listening
to family and friends gush about your storytelling and writing skills is good
for your vanity, but do not believe it. Do not believe them when they tell you
they think your book is wonderful. What they mean is that you are wonderful or
the fact that you wrote a book is wonderful. The only people’s opinions that
can help you are those who do not care about you at all.”

Walsh also warns writers that
their worst fears “are probably true” when a favored reader is slow to praise.
“When they waffle about the writing, saying they ar

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