How to Engage the Reader: The Secret to Good Publicity

It sounds disingenuous, not to say disrespectful, but as a writer of forty books give or take, I’ve never read propaganda. I can not cope. I love stories and am afraid to spoil them. There is no obvious misrepresentation or killer with obvious signs that I will try to guess as I read on. I don’t look at the end first. One of the greatest joys of books (and life, somewhat the same thing) is to be blissfully surprised.

I accidentally read a wonderful blurb by Karen Jay Fowler We are all right by ourselves, which gave the (cool) quilling in the first line. I can’t be the only one to get distracted, as the new version’s misinformation now says:

Rosemary is young, just in college, and has decided not to tell anyone about her family. So we won’t tell you much either: you have to find out for yourself, on page 77, what makes her family unhappy like no other.

And I look at the jacket quotes, just to make sure no one uses any of my great books – “transparent prose” is one, “enormous lyrical powers of description” is another. I once reviewed a novel in which the famous person quoting it, under pressure from publishers, said: “This is a story, well told”—which, frankly, one might consider something of a bare minimum.

As for the blurb, years ago I used to write it myself as “Dear Reader”, before what Louise Wilder calls the “innocence” of the world (after juice), and trying to address a stranger informally became like how a toilet talks to you on a train Virgin.

None of this detracts from the sheer fun and charm of this book, and I now consider myself a well educated, more convinced than ever that I am right to leave the mystery in the hands of the excellent pros of Little, Brown.

Wilder’s goal is to reclaim false propaganda as “a modest and laborious literary form … a narrow rhetorical space, less sublime than a sonnet, but equally precise”, in the words of Italian author and publisher Roberto Calasso. The writer is no less than Iris Murdoch, who considered false advertising a “miniature art form.” Roger McGough used to be swayed by his publishers to curate his book. And Richard Adams was very rude about it, though not quite as rude as Janet Winterson, who hated her publicity stunt so much that she took a picture of herself setting fire to the books she adorned—an act that earned her so much publicity. And the I got a change blurb. It’s genius in many ways.

This book is full of fun treasures and a library. There’s great advice on whether to swear or not (only if it’s cleverly sprayed); Should you ever mention Jesus (even in books all about jesus), and examples of some of the worst false advertising in the world, the best of which is Frank Herbert (awesome) Dunewhich begins:

When the emperor transfers oversight of Arrakis from the noble house of Harkonen to the house of Atreides, the Harkonnen fight and kill the Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Mrs. Jessica, his cell, escape into the desert. On the verge of death they are rescued by the Freemen, who control Arrakis’ second resource: giant worms…

Uh , secondlyGreat resource.

Then there are children’s books:

Meet Dave. Caveman dev.
Dave lives in the cave.
dev cave perfect
But Dave is not happy…
Dave want the new cave

As Wilder points out, this isn’t just a great way to set up voice, character, time, and space with less than 20 words; It also basically sums up the human condition. And try to find a scribal child who cannot complete by heart the poem that adorns the back of Susan Cooper. The darkness is rising:

When it gets dark, he must bring back Six…

There’s also propaganda for crime, romance, and erotica, and another for literary fiction, in a chapter called “Come and Go If You Think You’re Tough Enough.” It’s funny out loud. On every monochromatic jacket, Wilder complains, there is a “writer at the height of their power,” which begs the question, is everything descended from here, or is all that they wrote before that is just nonsense? Why is everything so “limited” these days?

She explains that when blurbistas have to write a copy for literary fiction, they try very hard to get as much of the story in as possible, because that’s what readers are looking for. Praise is reserved formilkman Written by Anna Burns, whose jacket reads: “It’s a story of inaction, with dire consequences”—an excellent piece of cake jamming. Wilder hates Thomas Pynchon’s blurb rainbow gravity – ‘We can tell you the year is 1944 and bombs are falling all over Europe, but that doesn’t really start to cover it’ – to imply that if you, the reader, are looking for a piece of land, you are ‘a bit basic’; But then she wonders if it matters, seeing as the only point of reading it is to tell others that you’ve read it.

Besides the bad, sometimes the good will take your breath away. How good is Halle Rubinhold’s publicity stunt the five Show you exactly what the book will look like?

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine, and Mary Jane are all known for the same thing, although they’ve never met.
They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales.
They wrote stories, ran cafes, lived in country estates, breathed ink dust from printing presses, and escaped human traffickers.
The common denominator between them is the year of the murder: 1888.

If that doesn’t make you immediately want to step into the world of this book, it’s hard to know what will.

The first edition of The great Gatsby In 1925 the line includes:[This novel]… imbued with a sense of the strangeness of human conditions in an oblivious world. My personal favorite is the near-perfect fusion of author and copywriter adorning the extraordinary Andrew Hankinson You can do something amazing with your life [You are Raoul Moat]:

message arrival. You have an appointment with a clinical psychology intern on April 29, 2008.
You do not attend.
Another message arrives. She says they don’t usually reschedule, but they know this is hard for you, so they offer you another date. It’s May 13, 2008.
You do not attend.
Two years later, you shot three people and shot yourself. You will be called a monster. You will be called evil. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, will stand in Parliament and say you are a cruel killer, end of the story. You have nine days and your whole life to prove that you are more than just a ruthless killer.
he goes.

Wilder also does several pretty cool twists along the way, following anything related to publishing that piques her interest. Did you know, for example, that erotic scenes in tie my shoes (Especially that unforgettable poor goldfish) wasn’t actually written by Shirley Conran at all, it was written by Celia Brayfield, and that they fell out for years because of it? Or does “bumf” come from “bum fodder”, as once upon a time in a world where books were so expensive, the books you didn’t want to keep were recycled as toilet paper? Or that by the middle of the fifteenth century AD there were already eight million books in print, which can be compared to the explosion of the Internet?

There is something funny, memorable or amazing on every page Impress your enthusiasm. Some books simply slide into your life like good old friends. This is undoubtedly one of them. />

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