Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Twain's Folly (Part Three)

So Headcrash was released, and instantly hit the bestseller lists — and just as instantly vanished from the bestseller lists, but that's another story — and pretty soon these packages started showing up in my P.O. box. Not a lot of them; certainly not an overwhelming deluge; but a steady stream, just the same. Chapbooks of poetry, short-story collections, full-length novels; all self-published, all sent to me by people hoping I could somehow help them break in to the publishing business, most of them unsolicited, and most of them pretty damned awful.

I've kept a few over the years. One in particular I want to mention is Fallen, by Ben Rowlinson, which was a.) not unsolicited — Ben took the time and trouble to make my acquaintance and ask first, before sending the book, and b.) to the best of my knowledge, never published. It's a shame. It's a really funny and well-written book, and by rights should have been picked up by somebody, but that never happened and I couldn't help him.

Another I've kept all these years is one I won't name, by an author I also won't name, which I've kept because it came with a detailed study guide listing chapter and verse for every Old Testament prophecy the author referenced in the course of his story and suggesting lists of questions for discussion in your Bible study class. Much as you might want to include this sort of thing: don't. It's scary.

In time, I learned the truth of one of the things Vox had told me. He was talking about reviewing computer games, but it's equally applicable to books. "You can always tell the pathetically insecure ones," he said. "They put all their effort into the packaging, trying to impress you with how professional they are. The good ones just send you a burned CD with the title written in magic marker."