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The book biz

Agriculture.com Staff 11/11/2009 @ 12:14pm

The book business is fascinating, I gotta tell you.

I just spent two days fighting with a publisher over the letter "n."

Not the letter "n" in general, not all the "n's" in the world, just one specific "n."

Here's the deal. I have a new book that scheduled to be released soon (if we can settle this letter crisis). In the introduction, I talk about some of the trials of being a writer, but then I add that it's nothing like when I was a hog farmer and I started every morning checking to see what was broke, frozen, or dead. The publisher didn’t like that. He said I couldn't say "broke"; I had to say "broken."

Except, that isn’t what I would say. I realize "broken" is correct, but it isn't accurate.

He said if I didn't add that one letter English teachers would complain, reviewers wouldn't read the book and my cat would die.

Okay, that's not completely true. He didn't mention my cat.

I didn't see what the big deal was. English teachers already don't like me and no one reviews my books anyway. I'll probably only sell five copies of the new book, and that's if I don’t get in a fight with my sister.

Two days.

He said he wouldn't publish the book if I didn't add the letter, and I was thinking that I wouldn't let him publish the book if he made me put the letter in.

It went on to the point that I stopped sleeping, I asked everyone I met what they thought, and my stomach knotted up whenever I checked my e-mail.

The problem is that I'm not very good at arguing. I'm blaming my Norwegian ancestry.

Modern Norway is clean, friendly, and leads the world in charitable contributions per capita. The social system is so strong women can go on maternity leave as soon as they start thinking about getting pregnant, and there is that whole Nobel Peace Prize thing. On the other hand, 1,000 years ago they were Vikings. I think that leads to internal confusion.

If you get in an argument with me, you should probably know that half of my brain is cringing in embarrassment because I'm causing a scene and being a bother, and the other half is planning how I'm going to burn down your house and spread salt across the ruins. It's why I don't argue very much. It's not actually so much fun for me and there's the always the possibility that it could be really bad for the other person. If I'm around someone with whom I profoundly disagree, I'm just not around that person for long.

So, if we're sitting having coffee and you're explaining to me that Rush Limbaugh is the greatest American since George Washington, I'll probably just sit there with a slight smile on my face and listen intently to every word. Of course, don’t be surprised if I get up to go to the bathroom and never come back.

I realize I'm being rude, but trust me, it's not the worst thing that could happen.

Copyright 2009 Brent Olson

The book business is fascinating, I gotta tell you.

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