Vanity Fair's How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding
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Vanity Fair's How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  368 ratings  ·  49 reviews
The highly anticipated novel The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, has just been published. But what is the riveting story behind the story--and what does it take to make a bestseller these days? As author and n+1 co-founder Keith Gessen reveals in this 17,000-word e-book (expanded from the article appearing in the October issue of Vanity Fair), the passage from MFA classr...more
Kindle Edition
Published September 5th 2011 by Vanity Fair
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Patrick Brown
This is as good a behind-the-scenes for contemporary publishing as I've read. I'm a Keith Gessen fan. I think he can really turn a phrase, but more importantly for a work like this, he has a brain that can handle the complex web of relationships, connections, and constituencies involved in producing a book like The Art of Fielding.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants an entertaining and yet still thorough account of the literary side of publishing.

One note: There's so much focus on the mone...more
Oct 17, 2011 Louise rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone who reads books
Recommended to Louise by: Patrick Brown
Shelves: non-fiction
Holy moly. It's very rare that I finish a book and feel like I *must* post my 5-star review of it on Goodreads right away, but here I am.

First thing's first. Don't let the boring title and cover throw you off. This is a very good case for how a book with a mundane title can still have compelling content.

The entire title of the book is "Vanity Fair's How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding" but I think it should be "Vanity Fair's How a Book is Born: and How to Write a Book to Get Yo...more
I thought it was a fascinating look at how books are published, and the present and future states of publishing. They even had me very excited to read the book they were focusing on until I realized that was really the entire purpose of this article... to sell more copies of that book. I still give it 4 stars for being interesting and informative, but I have no intention of getting the book on which it focuses.
Phil Brody
I read "The Art of Fielding" a few months back and really enjoyed it (you can read my review for that book here also). Last week, a friend told me about "How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding" and I immediately picked it up. With my debut novel ("The Holden Age of Hollywood") hitting bookshelves in August, I was very interested in this behind-the-scenes look at how "The Art of Fielding" came to be and how it became a best seller. And the book did not disappoint. I loved it and co...more
Dec 18, 2011 Ellen rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
This is going to sound like an odd criticism for a nonfiction work, and maybe I'm just blinded by my appreciation for the novel this extended Vanity Fair article is about (being The Art of Fielding) but this had one of the most infuriating endings of any article I've read this year. At the moment where Gessen could provide some actual insight into the author (who is a friend of his), the fiction editing process (since he lived through it) or the future of publishing, he just throws up his hands....more
Brian Ayres
Great primer on current state of publishing but Gessen is way too close to the author to be taken seriously...Having just finished the novel, I found it to be good but not great. I can understand why so many publishers passed. Regardless of what Gessen and others say it is a baseball novel...a darn good one at that. I am glad it was published after 10 years.
Pat Monahan
For a $1.99 I couldn't resist. I read this on my Ipad Nook app. It's about how the book, The Art of Fielding was written and produced. I now want to read that book.

If you ever wondered about the book publishing business and how ebooks are effecting it, this will be well worth your time.
Despite the title, this is a book about the current state of the book publishing industry. It's not a long read (it was originally published in Vanity Fair magazine), but is engrossing. It uses Chad Harbach's "The Art of Fielding" as a way of introducing Harbach's attempts to get a publisher, then an agent, and then... well, whether you've read "The Art of Fielding" or not, this is for everyone who is interested in books and publishing and distribution and reading and e-readers and the state of...more

An eye-opening eBook I just finished is How a Book Is Born by Keith Gessen with an introduction by Graydon Carter. It first appeared in shorter form in Vanity Fair magazine and shows how the novel The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach came to be written, agented, sold, published, and turned into a huge hit for Little, Brown.

Harbach barely scraped by financially for ten years as he worked on his novel, writing and rewriting. When he finally stopped tinker...more
King Wenclas
This book is the voice of the conglomerates.
Articles like Keith Gessen's create the illusion of American literature. American literature is what they say it is, because they say it. In glossy outlets. They say it often enough that people believe it. Even though they represent a tiny fraction of American writers. Not the best of them either. Definitely not the most original of them. What this crowd has is the biggest megaphone.
Wake up, Keith! There's a great big land of writers and writing outs...more
John E. Branch Jr.
This essay, expanded from a Vanity Fair article, tells a number of tales: It’s about a friendship over time, that of the author, Keith Gessen, and his friend Chad Harbach, who met as freshman English majors in college. It’s about how Chad worked for years on a novel, his first, which he called The Art of Fielding, while struggling to make ends meet and fend off the calls of collection agencies. It goes into some detail about how he eventually found an agent, who found a publisher, and what went...more
Margaret Sullivan
An enjoyable and interesting look at modern book publishing, how a book--in this case The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach--is acquired and publicized and marketed, and what the author and publishers do in their collaboration. Though it should be pointed out for you aspiring authors out there, this is not what you should expect if you aspire to write genre. This is the treatment that only a super-special literary novel gets, because they are super special.

It's not a full book, of course, but real...more
Absolutely superb, as one would expect from Keith Gessen. A very thorough look at how books get published today, a story that is both horrifying and fascinating, at least to book lovers. The subject of the book is the newly published novel The Art of Fielding, a literary first novel just out from Little Brown (the publisher of David Foster Wallace, by the way.) Reading Gessen, one has to wonder how anything gets published at all, much less anything of worth. Gessen and the author are friends and...more
This short book grew out of a long Vanity Fair article detailing the publishing journey of Chad Harbaugh's "The Art of Fielding." I would not even have known about it had not the Little,Brown editor sitting next to me gushed all over herself when she saw my husband holding the novel as we stood to depart a flight in New York last summer. Neither he nor I shared the acclaim that the novel found in publishing circles or among other readers whom we respect, so I'd hoped this article might cast on l...more
A well-written and fascinating trip down Modern Publishing Lane. But seriously, author Keith Gessen used basically every available opportunity to reference his own literary career. As he and Chad were friends-from-way-back pals, it was sometimes interesting to track their mutual journeys together. A lot of times though, it was like "Gessen. Stop plugging your career and the career of your twenty best friends" If you want to write a book about plugging you and your friends careers, write a book c...more
Erin Goettsch
This fascinated me!
Jan 12, 2012 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Patrick Brown
Shelves: on-nook
(4.0) Quite informative, didn't feel like an article stretched longer to sell as ebook (but it was)

Well written and interesting. And great promotion for The Art of Fielding; I want to read it too now! :) It's a quick run through how The Art of Fielding came to be published. It's written for us outsiders; anyone in the industry probably thinks it to shallow a treatment.
Graeme Aitken
As an author and a bookseller I found this fascinating. I had just finished reading the novel and had gone online to read some reviews which is where I found a reference to this e-book. I think with a debut novelist trying to sell a book, the difficult thing is to get your book into the right publisher or agent's 's hands (i.e. one can see the potential) at the right point in time. Luckily for Chad Harbach that came together and his book slowly gathered enormous momentum.
Dan Rimoldi
A cool and very interesting behind the scenes look at the publishing industry and how it works. It's especially interesting given the challenges the business faces in this day and age of e-books and such. A must read for anyone who likes to read.

Also, The Art of Fielding is good. Read it!
A fascinating inside look at the world of publishing, with just enough name-dropping to make you feel you might be able to fake your way through a New York literary 'do. Though Gessen's work was available in an abbreviated form in Vanity Fair, it's easily worth the few dollars to read the whole thing. Well-paced and well-written, it's almost enough to get me to read The Art of Fielding... but not quite.
Michael Vagnetti
Longread advertorial. I'd rather read why the book is so good rather than about the biz of "celebritizing" yet another author. Anybody remember Nell Freudenberger? At least there is a quote about connecting readers and writers. Sift through the politics and play the game.
Otis Chandler
May 25, 2012 Otis Chandler rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone in publishing
Recommended to Otis by: Patrick Brown
This is a fun quick read, but particularly well written, which makes it a great insight into the struggle an author takes to get published. I don't think I learned anything per se, but it's great to see it all put together and told fluidly and so that you empathize with the characters. It almost - almost - makes me want to read the Art of Fielding, despite my lack of love for Baseball.
Arlene Walker
Based on what this author says, it's a MIRACLE any book ever gets published; even the great ones like The Art of Fielding. Just like everything else, it's more who you know and less about the talent. No wonder folks are going the self-publishing route. The big pub houses are killing their own industry. But maybe that's a good thing.
Very interesting and informative. Filled some gaps in my knowledge of the publishing process, with even a couple of unexpectedly funny moments (re: Ice T). Now I really want to read The Art of Fielding!
Very interesting and informative. Filled some gaps in my knowledge of the publishing process, with even a couple of unexpectedly funny moments (re: Ice T). Now I really want to read The Art of Fielding!
Jim Belcher
If you are a writer or just love books, this is a fascinating long article (turned into a short book) about the NY publishing industry, its potential future demise, the rise of and how a book is made in the current climate. A terrific read. A terrific overview of the publishing industry.
Kambri Crews
I haven't read The Art of Fielding, but it didn't matter. I found the insider info very interesting, though I was left feeling a bit disheartened at the whole publishing industry.
Aaron Goldfarb
A nicely plotted telling of the writing and eventual publishing of the $665,000-advanced "Art of Fielding." For any one who loves writing, writers, and publishing. Us people in the "industry" won't learn all that much, but it's still a quick, compelling, and even inspiring read.
First ebook I finished reading in my life has to be about... books! Interesting account about how one specific book came to be. Also interesting for those who want to understand how the American Publishing Market works. And some toughts about the future of the book, of course.
This is a cheat review, since I didn't read the e-book, just the article in Vanity Fair. But it was an informative, engaging article about the publishing industry--its deficits, its passionate employees, and so on. I am going to have my novel students read this piece...
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Keith Gessen (b. 1975) is editor-in-chief of n+1, a twice-yearly magazine of literature, politics, and culture based in New York City. He graduated from Harvard College and earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University in 2004.

Gessen, who was born in Russia, has written about Russia for The Atlantic and the New York Review of Books. In 2005, Dalkey Archive Press published Gessen's tr...more
More about Keith Gessen...
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