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The Making of a Bestseller: From Author to Reader [Paperback]

Arthur T. Vanderbilt
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 30 1999 0786406631 978-0786406630
An exploration of that mysterious place in publishing where art and commerce either clash, mesh, or both. Along the way, a wide range of authors - from the literary greats to today's commercial superstars -editors, agents and publishers share their thoughts, insights and experiences: what inspires writers? (John Steinbeck, for example, wrote every novel as though it were his last, and death was imminent.) Why are some books successful and appreciated, whilst others fall into oblivion? The answers are often elusive, never absolute.

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"A blurb--for a man who knows about blurbs and everything else that goes into the making of bestsellers, even including the writers thereof." -- Tom Wolfe

"It's a joy to take this tour of the book business with its eye-opening emphasis on writers." -- Judith Appelbaum, author of How to Get Happily Published

"Mr. Vanderbilt's book is teeming with lore and advice and warnings and imprecations. It is a joy as a book to read." -- William F. Buckley, Jr.

"Publishing a book is something like going to the track. There's a favorite--but you never know. It's a mystery--though Arthur Vanderbilt's book, The Making of a Bestseller, goes a long way towards penetrating it. Apart from scrutinizing the mystery, Mr. Vanderbilt guides us, with wit and erudition, through the Byzantine world of publishing. Why shouldn't The Making of a Bestseller be a bestseller? It's a hell of a good read." -- Frank McCourt, Pulitzer prize winning Author of Angela's Ashes

"Vanderbilt tells all that every aspiring writer should know about publishing today, and every reader too." -- Louis Auchincloss

About the Author

Arthur T. Vanderbilt II served as deputy attorney general of New Jersey and is now a partner in a New Jersey law firm. He wrote Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt, and his Order in the Courts: A Biography of Arthur T. Vanderbilt won the American Bar Association's award for book of the year. He lives in Summit, New Jersey.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Depressing look into the world of authors Jan. 30 2001
If you ever had hopes of becoming an author, NEVER read this book. A look into how the technical process of writing works, all this book shows the reader is the various disappointments that an author will encounter while trying to get his book published.
Although it presents what I imagine to be a realistic view of the creative process, the author presents a plethora of examples of well-known authors and their experiences. The problem? He uses the exact same examples over and over again. The language that he uses is very colloquial and the laid back tone is quite surprising, considering it is a "scholarly" work.
The biggest problem I have with the book is this. How is it possible for an author that is clearly not a best-selling author know what exactly the best-selling process is like? If not for the examples of other authors, it would be impossible for him to talk about the process.
All in all, this book was a big disappointment, and all it shows is the negative aspect to book publishing.
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Whether you're trying to publish a book -- or just enjoy reading -- this book is a necessary delight. From the clever chapter titles to the extensive Bibliography and Index, this book has fantastic info and insider sizzle on each page. It offers practical insights on sales reps, best seller lists, books on consignment, cyber sales, literary reviews and convincing a publisher to take a chance on you in an industry where 500,000 books are published each year and "only a handful hit the jackpot". Wonderfully interwoven are fascinating stories of authors whose wives practiced the sensitive art of selecting the right book title (Steinbeck) and writers who pack their literary offspring into car trunks and drive onto the bestseller list by visiting local newspapers, TV, radio and book shops (Dyer-The Erroneous Zone). Captivating stories and quotes by authors from Jacqueline Susann and Truman Capote to Ernest Hemingway and John Knowles march through this book like caustic, vulnerable and sometimes vicious soldiers hell-bent on winning the publishing war. The elegant language and style of this compendium make IT as appealing as your favorite book. Perhaps, Mr. Vanderbilt says it best: "how ... unknown authors journeyed against all odds onto the best-seller lists is a story that rivals their fiction".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacularly Interesting! Feb. 7 2001
This book was lent to me by a University Professor who recommended it as the most comprehensive and thought-provoking study of the publishing industry he's read in years. I couldn't agree more. As a potential author, I found The Making of a Bestseller an encouraging and thought-provoking work. It offers a clear look into the world of publishing, therefore, demystifying the process for those of us just embarking on this sometimes frustrating journey. Insightful and uplifting, one cannot fail to come away without a great deal of encouragement. I, for one, found myself wondering, if F. Scott Fitzgerald faced similar adversity and prevailed, why can't I? One thing we writers must learn: A thick skin is required in this business. This book is not for the unrealistic or faint-hearted. But neither is a career in writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Celebration of Creative Writing March 26 2000
This hand-wringing book is about bestsellers; it does not (and can not) define how bestsellers are made. This celebration of creative writing is about writers paying their dues and being discovered. Vanderbilt discusses the effects titles, advertising, author name recognition, perseverance, bestseller lists, reviews, testimonials and blind, dumb luck had on books that made it to the charts. It is a well-written, scholarly study of successful literature with references and footnotes. This book makes a couple of references to nonfiction but is almost entirely about fiction. If you like this book, you will also like Seven Strategies in Every Bestseller by Tam Mossman. I liked them both. Dan Poynter, author of 82 books (nonfiction). DanPoynter@ParaPublishing.com
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By A Customer
All book lovers should read "The Making of a Bestseller." All hopeful authors must read it. This isn't another one of those formulaic, "how to" texts. This author has thoroughly researched the publishing industry, and the book abounds with provocative and inspirational experiences. Aspiring authors will be heartened to find the impressive company they're in as the voices of well-known writers speak of the trials and tribulations encountered on the road to publication. Mr. Vanderbilt's book not only provides encouragement to hopeful authors, it presents a frank and invaluable overview of the publication process. No reader or writer should miss this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a novel! July 22 1999
By A Customer
Anyone interested in how an author writes a book will surely be fascinated by "The Making of a Bestseller". A must for any writer mystified by how a book finds a publisher and then an audience. This is the book. I found it an intriguing peek behind the curtains of a big business that seems to act like it's still a cottage industry. This book by Arthur Vanderbilt, which I just happened to see at a local bookstore, reads like a novel. Terrific wordsmith! I am so glad I spotted it and have read it. I think it will become a classic. Well deserved, and anyone interested in the world of books would find its reading well worth it.
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