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Vanity Fair's How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding [Kindle Edition]

Graydon Carter , Keith Gessen
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $1.99

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Book Description

The highly anticipated novel The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, has just been published. But what is the riveting story behind the story—and what does it take to make a bestseller these days? As author and n+1 co-founder Keith Gessen reveals in this 17,000-word e-book (expanded from the article appearing in the October issue of Vanity Fair), the passage from MFA classroom to national book tour is its own treacherous, absorbing—and wildly unpredictable—adventure. Harbach, Gessen’s friend and colleague, was a struggling writer who toiled relentlessly for ten years on The Art of Fielding, before it eventually hauled in a $650,000 advance. At each step of the way several vivid characters fought tooth and nail to ensure the book’s survival, including Chris Parris-Lamb, Harbach’s passionate young agent; Michael Pietsch, a renowned editor at the publishing house Little, Brown; and Keith Hayes, the book’s tireless designer. In this e-book of sweeping scope and fascinating, behind-the-scenes detail, Gessen pulls back the curtain on the insular, fiercely political, and cutthroat literary world of Manhattan—a place where the “Big Six” publishing houses, owned by multinational conglomerates, reign supreme, while smaller houses are left to fend for themselves. Gessen exposes the modern-day book business for what it is: a largely uncertain enterprise—but rife with courageous, enthusiastic individuals—struggling to redefine itself in the face of its own digital revolution.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1183 KB
  • Print Length: 53 pages
  • Publisher: Vanity Fair (September 5, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,911 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Manuscript to Bestseller in Only Ten Long Years September 17, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Keith Gessen's article, Vanity Fair's How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding, is expanded from a piece that appears in the October 2011 issue of Vanity Fair. It reveals the haphazard process of turning a manuscript into a book.

If you've ever read about how an author becomes published, you'll know that luck plays as big a role as talent and perseverance. There is no by-the-numbers guide for how to get your book published, because every book seems to take a different path.

This is the story of The Art of Fielding, a first novel that is currently on the New York Times bestseller list and is getting very good critical reviews. That it is a "good" book is hardly a guarantee that it would be published, let alone be a bestseller.

Gessen's narrative emphasizes the quirky characters that populate the book industry. Author Chad Harbach sent his book to dozens of agents and publishers for ten years, until finding the one agent that loved it. Gessen also tells of the designer who created the artwork for the hardcover and had to change it half a dozen times to please everyone. Then there's the publishing consultant who has "zany" opinions about where the book industry will be in the next decade.

Considering the state of flux the publishing industry is in now, The Art of Fielding took a fairly traditional road to being published, going through agents and publishers and eventually an auction for the rights.

Self-publishing and ebooks are not part of the story of The Art of Fielding, but according to Mike Shatzkin, the publishing consultant Gessen writes about, once people migrate to e-books, there's no turning back.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Leah
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This long article is more about the book publication process in general, from agent to editorial acquisition to marketing and design, than it is about Chad Harbach and his novel THE ART OF FIELDING. Harbach's success is an atypical case, and author Keith Gessen downplays this while explaining the rigorous process of publication with a traditional publisher. Gessen contrasts traditional publishing with the modern e-publishing process and raises thoughtful questions about the future of books.

Any writers interested in the publishing process will find a succinct and realistic take on it here. In the end, I wanted to know more about Harbach and the long slog of writing FIELDING, but Gessen never delves too deeply into Harbach's personal story or offers much insight into *why* Harbach's novel became the crown jewel in Little, Brown's Fall 2011 list. Still, this is a fine overview of the steps toward publication, sprinkled with pithy and often mordantly cynical anecdotes from agents, editors, and other industry insiders.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it for its insight and inside look at book publishing September 29, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this e-article about the publishing history of "The Art of Fielding" before I read the novel. Article first, novel second or novel first and article second, the order doesn't make much difference. This is a stand-alone. It's interesting reading even if you aren't interested in picking up the novel.

"How A Book Is Born," as the title suggests, is the back-story and publishing history of the novel the "Art of Fielding," the 10-year effort to write it and the adventure and struggle in getting it published, which it eventually was and for a moneybag filled with $650,000. The article is nonfiction with most all the drama and narrative drive of a good piece of storytelling.

Keith Gessen and "Fielding" author Chad Harbach are cronies and co-editors at the hip journal "n+1." Their long-time personal relationship is important. It gave Gessen the inside scoop as the novel gestated just as it gave him access to the business of books at the very time the paradigm is shifting and the future of publishing is as unstable as it is uncharted.

For me what made this e-article worth reading (this Kindle Short is pretty much a reprint from an October 2011 "Vanity Fair" piece "The Book on Publishing") is the glimpse it gives inside book publishing in the age of e-commerce where no one seems to have anything close to a good formula for success and where more often decisions seem to be seat-of-the pants choices that can give shape to either success or failure, as defined by number of hardcover and digital books sold.

Publishing today is a $14 billion business (in annual sales and that doesn't count educational materials or textbooks) in an imprecise world where "No two books are the same book and no two authors are the same author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars provides a lot of insight June 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I read "The Art of Fielding" a few months back and really enjoyed it (you can read my review for that book here also). Last week, a friend told me about "How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding" and I immediately picked it up. With my debut novel ("The Holden Age of Hollywood") hitting bookshelves in August, I was very interested in this behind-the-scenes look at how "The Art of Fielding" came to be and how it became a best seller. And the book did not disappoint. I loved it and could have read another 300 pages -- it was that good.

The book is a very thorough look at the journey a book takes -- from writing to re-writing, querying to finding an agent, bidding wars to marketing. And it also explores the amazing changes going on in the industry since the inception of Amazon and the Kindle.

I'd recommend it to any and every writer I know as it really does provide a lot of insight into the craft of writing and the uphill battle of getting published. The one thing I'd recommend is to read novel before this tell-all because the latter will make you want to read the former, but the latter also contains many spoilers of the former. You've been warned. Now go get both books!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Will read today!!!
Have not read it but I know it's great!!!!
Published 5 days ago by Diana Welsch
5.0 out of 5 stars The Inside Scoop on Book Publishing
"How a Book is Born" is a "Good Read"!! A good overview and briefing concerning how a book is marketed today. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael W. Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into the publishing world
I was looking forward to an inspirational story about a struggling writer succeeding after years of struggle. What I discovered was tidbits of how Amazon got started and why. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MLO
5.0 out of 5 stars good
From the content, book condition to delivery time, item price, I feel that all as good as or even better than i expected
Published 7 months ago by Jack Chang
5.0 out of 5 stars a good journey
This is a good book to learn about America's book publishing industry and a comprehensive case study to compare with my country book publishing industry.
Published 8 months ago by ret
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting view into publishing world
Nice job of conveying complexities of the publishing industry, as well as the ups and downs that writers must endure to see their work rewarded. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jim
3.0 out of 5 stars Kind of makes me wonder...
This is the story behind the selling of "The Art of Fielding" by Keith Gessen to a major publishing house for a high-end advance and deal. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Hemlock
4.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating look at how a story becomes a book
If you've wanted to know what it's like today in the business of making books, this is a great, gory look at how the story becomes the book.
Published 14 months ago by Emily Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story of how the book was written and eventually was...
This short book is easy to read. In addition to telling about how the book was written and eventually published, it describes how the publishing industry works these days.
Published 14 months ago by David Walden
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Book
This e-book was an informative behind-the-scenes look at the publishing industry in this country. It also provided a great summary of Chad Harbach's attempts to complete and... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lillian K. Robinson
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