Candid observations and opinions about the past, present and future of publishing
A tribute to a man whose life's work has centered on the study of authorship and who is a scholar and book collector of the first magnitude, The Professions of Authorship examines the business of writing, publishing, and selling books—or what George V. Higgins describes in this volume as a "perplexing, disorganized, chameleonic enterprise." Twenty-three authors, publishing professionals, and scholars who share Matthew J. Bruccoli's love and knowledge of books unravel many of the mysteries surrounding this tradition-bound endeavor.
The first of three sections opens with a poem written by James Dickey in celebration of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary and includes essays in which writers of fiction and poetry share lessons about the idiosyncrasies, sacrifices, and rewards of professional authorship.
In the second section, agents, editors, publishers, and reviewers reflect on their function as bridges between author and audience. Charles Scribner III tells of his family's "accidental" entry into the profession and his grandfather's partnership with Maxwell Perkins, and John F. Thornton draws surprising observations about the Book-of-the-Month Club.
In the final section, eleven scholars consider how literary reputations are made and maintained, the practicalities of authorship, and the difficulties that scholars face in writing about authors.
Richard Layman is vice president of Bruccoli Clark Layman, Inc., and of Manly, Inc. He and Bruccoli are editorial directors of the reference series American Decades and the Dictionary of Literary Biography.
Joel Myerson is Carolina Research Professor of American Literature at the University of South Carolina. He has written or edited more than fifty volumes on nineteenth-century American writers.
"Some of the essays, while serious, don't lose sight of a sense of humor—a most welcome and surprising element in such a festschrift. The essays in this volume are of a high order and have been ably edited by two close friends of Bruccoli, Richard Layman—vice president of Bruccoli Clark Layman book publishers in Columbia—and Joel Myerson, Carolina Research Professor of American Literature at USC."—William W. Starr, The State