Today We Have Naming of Parts
Dear Mr. Roseman,
First, I believe introductions are in order. My name is Eliza Torrance, and I’ll be taking over the editorial position here at Ramsette-Hill vacated by Art Hough, who is retiring after 35 years in the position. I believe he is moving to Costa Rica, or El Salvador, or one of those Spanish countries with two names. Anyway, this means — or at least I hope it means — that we will have the opportunity to work together in the near future!
To address the questions on your letter of the 5th: our reticence to sign you to a publishing contract at Ramsette-Hill has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of your work. In all frankness, Mr. Roseman, we believe that you are one of the most talented writers we have encountered in the last twenty years. The fact that you are able to to write with such skill and insight in so many genres makes your work all the more impressive; of the fifteen manuscripts you have sent us, which range from novels to poetry to histories to textbooks, we believe all of them are of substantial quality, and at least half-a-dozen of them have the potential to become best sellers. We so look forward to receiving new submissions from you that we are willing to indulge your curious habit of composing all your work in Ami Pro; luckily, we found a 1993 tabletop PC in the basement and had an intern do the necessary conversion.
I’m sure you know where you’re going with this, though, Mr. Roseman. While we respect the authorial tendency to resist making changes to their work — and even believe that they may have an editorial perspective that may turn out to be the right decision in the long run — it is your refusal to allow us to publish your books under anything but the original titles you gave them that is causing the delay in what we believe would otherwise be a financially and artistically rewarding relationship between you and Ramsette-Hall.
Let us take, for example, your first novel. It’s, in all honesty, a remarkable debut effort — accessible but artistically sophisticated, full of perceptive analysis of the human condition channeled through a handful of simply unforgettable characters. That’s why we believed then and believe now that Hot Wet Turd Party is a title that might very well prevent it from getting the critical and popular attention it deserves. Likewise, Blood of Acadia: A New History of King William’s War, 1688-1697 is an amazing piece of work — moving, thorough, and shining a brilliant new light on its subject. Unfortunately, it is not in fact a history of King William’s War, but a biography of Bram Stoker. While it is clear to me from reviewing the 231 pages of correspondence between you and Art Hough that you don’t believe this to be a problem, our marketing department begs to differ.
Your book of spiritual poetry, I confess as a devout Christian, I found extremely moving, and it encouraged me to learn new things about other faiths while manifestly reaffirming my own devotion to the Lord. I make this personal admission so as to drive home how strong is my belief that If I Eat a Chinaman, Will I Be Hungry An Hour Later? And Other Kooky Cannibal Queries is an absolutely inappropriate title for this, or any other, book. And while I don’t have much of a grasp of physics, our science editor assures me that your entry-level college text on the subject is illuminating and education, but written in a style that will appeal to even the most casual student, and stands a very good chance of becoming the definitive assigned reading in schools all over the country — all the more astonishing an achievement for someone with no formal scientific training. And to think that the one thing standing in the way of such a remarkable outcome is your adamant insistence on retaining the original title, a string of over 300 Cyrillic letters that our in-house translators assure me is complete gibberish.
Mr. Roseman, please believe that we honor your artistic integrity, just as much as we value your work and hope to be able to release it to a public that will value it just as much. But, as I’m sure you heard from at least a few of the three dozen houses you say turned you down before you came to us, publishing is a business. Wouldn’t it be worth just this one little compromise in order to open up your entire career as a writer? It’s a small thing, the title of a book, and what good will it do, in the long run, to cling to one as frankly unappealing as Hog-Fucking Saturdays and Other Reminiscences of Growin’ Up Arkansas, balanced against all the good it would do if you released it under a name more a suited for a book on diabetic nutritional health? Please consider what I’ve said. In the meantime, I look forward to your new collection of children’s cartoons — remind me again, is it Burning Triangle: A Statistical Analysis of the Holocaust, or Peachflesh, a Novel of Hebephilia?
yours in hope,