Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Masters of Sex 3.4: The Bookstore

One of the pleasures of Masters of Sex for me this season is to see how well - both seriously and comically - Masters and Johnson's excursion in publishing has depicted.   I have no idea if the two actually went through these experiences - actually, it's Masters who's leading the charge on this - but the point is that the experiences are valid and instantly recognizable to any published author who's not comatose.

In episode 3.4, we find Masters wrangling with a bookstore displaying his and Johnson's book.  In days gone by, many's the time you'd find me haunting a Barnes and Noble or a Borders - an activity no longer as fruitful or even necessary with Amazon on the rise, which I otherwise am undilutedly happy about.  But back in the day, I'd check out the sections in the bookstore with my books, and occasionally even stoop to "fronting" one - that is, turning the cover face out, so the browser would see the great art work, and have more to go by than just the spine. One of my peak experiences was actually seeing a customer pick out my novel - it was The Silk Code - then go up to the cashier and buy it!  It had a great cover, but, come to think of it, it was spine out on that occasion.

Masters is under pressure from his traditional publisher to move more copies of his book if he wants to see a second edition.  This portrayal of traditional publishing is spot on.   Maybe William Henry Appleton, a leading character in my Plot to Save Socrates trilogy, cared more about quality than money for his Appleton's press in the 19th century, but he cared about money, too, and in the twentieth century there was decreasing difference between a shoe manufacturer and a book publisher, as far as moving products.  Masters is hoping a little book tour might help.  Johnson resists for personal reasons - she's wanting to stay close to her family - but she's right about the waste of time of most book tours, anyway.  They may boost the author's ego, but usually not sales, or at least not enough sales to justify the effort.

Books play another role in this episode, which finds Masters obsessively reading How to Win Friends and Influence People.  What comes out of this is a fur coat for Johnson - which Masters' wife unfortunately sees - and a dinner invitation, which seems to herald a new tenderness from Masters to Johnson.

Much enjoying this season.   More soon.

See also Thomas Maier: Masters of Sex and Biography Come to Life ...Masters of Sex 3.1: Galley Slaves ... Masters of Sex 3.2: The Shah, the Baby, and the Book

"resonates with the current political climate . . . . heroine Sierra Waters is sexy as hell"
-Curled Up with a Good Book 


my first novel

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