The allure of the Captain Underpants series is lost on some adults. Rife with flatulence jokes, characters with puerile names like Professor Pippy P. Poopypants and starring an unlikely superhero in tighty-whities, the series topped the American Library Association's list of Most Frequently Challenged Books in both 2012 and 2013.
Forty six years ago, when I was an 18-year-old Yale freshman, my scholarship job was to clear away the dishes three nights a week in the Yale Law School dining hall. I have little doubt that among those whose plates and silverware I picked up were Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton.
Vanity presses, otherwise known as "self-publishing companies" or "subsidy publishers," will publish any book written by anyone with a large bank account and a spendthrift attitude. In the ocean of publishing, vanity presses are the sharks.
In a nutshell, Medley admits that Gardham has sold a solid number of books over the years, but questions whether or not it was worth the effort. The entire piece is oozing with thinly veiled pity for Gardham, who hopes to someday catch the eye of an agency or traditional publishing company.
I work in an industry that has difficult to measure and sometimes subjective standards. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Most authors are in love with their book babies, as they should be, but one of the pitfalls of self-publishing has been--and continues to be--authors who either don't know what they don't know, or who go renegade at some point during their publication process.
I think of my friend often when I listen to writers talk about their latest idea for a new book. Every writer is a visionary in their own way. Our stories, like my friend's schools, begin in a place where only we can see them. It is so exciting, it is so life-affirming, to perceive something tangibly before it exists. At such times we are in touch with life's complete creative potential. It is as if we can perceive, not just the apple tree, but also all the apples it will produce.
My infatuation with Beatrix Potter began not long after my first child was born, when we received a gift set of her "little books": twenty-three enticing hardcovers each no bigger than my hand, in their own little box-bookshelf.