One of my resolutions for 2014 was to make an effort on behalf of my first child, by which I mean my book Willing Dogs & Reluctant Masters: On Friendship and Dogs. A year later, I’m determined to follow through on it. So, welcome to my resolution.
The book is now two years old. Looking at it from some distance and in light of feedback I’ve received, I still think the tyke worth helping along. For awhile I fantasized that others might help care for it after I’d labored to conceive it and bring it into the world. Oprah, for example. Back in grad school I had a job in a bookstore, and I’ll never forget the frenzied days when Oprah’s book-club shows aired and we’d sell boxes and boxes of the enviable author’s book.
I have abandoned any hope that Oprah will call to help the book and solve in an instant the difficulty of making a living. Nevertheless, I still harbor modest hopes that the kid may live long enough to find more readers. (I reflect on some deeper reasons why authors desire readers here.)
Back to my resolution. Here’s the deal. At no cost, I will send an autographed copy of my book to the first 10 people who contact me and agree to review it at Amazon, or at Goodreads, or some other venue that publishes reviews of books. (If you’ve got a connection at the New Yorker or NYT or Washington Post, etc. all the better!) It’s that simple. If you are interested, leave a comment to this post that includes your email address, and we’ll sort out the details. (Your comment won’t be posted.) If you know someone who might be interested, please send this offer along to them.
If you have already read the book, I’d be grateful if you’d consider taking a few minutes to review it or otherwise help get the word out.
Like many introverted types, I find it awkward to promote my work. For one thing, I’m haunted by Aristotle’s observation about artists and other makers (including most parents): that because of the attention and love they’ve lavished on their work, they tend to love it excessively—certainly “more than they would be loved by it if it were to become alive.” Ouch. Now there’s a weird thought experiment for you. Imagine how your book or sculpture or painting or poem would feel about you, if it could feel.
However my book may feel about me, I’m persuaded by the positive reception it has received that its finer qualities are not merely my projections, and that in its better moments it lives up to the aim the book’s publisher, Paul Dry, has for his books, that they “awaken, delight, and educate.”
But you don’t need to take a fond parent’s (or publisher’s) word for it. You can find a gathering of book-related reviews and interviews here. I’m especially encouraged by Diana Schaub’s review, and by Donald McCaig’s unpublished* remarks. Both of them know dogs and know writing. (Indeed, McCaig’s novel Nop’s Hope is a gripping and unsentimental page-turner about humans and dogs, Shakespearean in the reach of its themes.)
*Actually, he asked the editor at Bark if he could review my book in their pages, but despite his reputation he was refused. Apparently they disapproved of an ear-nipping episode I tell about in the introduction. (Needless to say, I did the nipping.) So perhaps in my case to “awaken, delight, and educate” should be amended to include “set hair on fire” and “outrage” some souls. What a lively, provocative child it must be if it’s worth censoring!
Still, I’d rather they’d published his review.