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Valley Forge Hardships / book copy

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  • J. L. Bell
    David McKissack wrote:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2003
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      David McKissack wrote:
      <<So this is a book issued by a university press. Do you know if a
      professor/author has more control over these kinds of blurbs in a
      university press>>?

      My impression, and this is just an impression, is that it would depend on
      the book's editor. University presses usually put more words on a book
      jacket (in smaller type) than commercial presses, and they market for a
      smaller, more professional audience, so they don't push the same buttons
      and they don't push as hard. [See the Discovery Channel copy about its show
      on the Boston Massacre for real hard sell from the commercial media.]

      When I wrote copy for book jackets (for a commercial press), I always gave
      authors an early look so they could squawk. But I must admit to pressuring
      them to approve: "Marketing likes it. Sales likes it. B&N likes it. The
      Publisher LOVES it. You want your book to sell, don't you? DON'T YOU?"
      Hence my remark that authors have only "limited influence" over that sort
      of copy.

      What we saw from the Penn State U Press website is probably the publisher's
      catalogue copy, prepared by the editor months ago to help sell the book to
      stores. It may also be, or be the basis for, the text on the hardcover
      book's dust jacket. And that blurb may even have been created just for the
      website. ("Blurb" is a catch-all term for marketing copy, including those
      quotes from other writers and reviewers, the other text on a book, etc.)

      In my experience, authors have practically no input into marketing copy
      that's separate from their books, as on this web page. Add to that the
      near-impossibility of boiling down 200-500 pages of your life's work into a
      few marketable words, and we really have to read an author's writing before
      judging her work.

      <<I know more than most folks how much most academics hate America and its
      history. (Its one of the reasons it took private citizens, not academics,
      to catch Bellisles.)>>

      Michael Bellesiles's lousy research was revealed by a combination of
      scholars inside and outside the academy, plus some reporters new to the
      field. Independent researcher Clayton Cramer was crucial in the effort,
      without doubt, but Profs James Lindgren, Gloria Main, Laurel Ulrich, and
      several others (generally from the political left, as far as I can tell)
      played important roles. Also, it seems significant that ARMING AMERICA
      wasn't published by an academic press, but a commercial one: Knopf, part of
      Random House, part of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann.

      As for "most academics hate America and its history," I think we'll just
      leave that as your opinion.

      J. L. Bell JnoLBell@...
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