Cover image for Publishing : a writer's memoir
Publishing : a writer's memoir
Godwin, Gail, author.
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First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury, 2015.
Physical Description:
xiii, 209 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
"A personal story of a writer's hunger to be published, the pursuit of that goal, and then the long haul--for Gail Godwin, forty-five years of being a published writer and all that goes with it. A student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1958, Godwin met with Knopf scouts who came to campus every spring in search of new talent. Though her five pages of Windy Peaks were turned down and the novel never completed, she would go on to publish two story collections and fourteen novels, three of which were National Book Award finalists, five of which were New York Times bestsellers"--
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PS3557.O315 Z46 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
PS3557.O315 Z46 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3557.O315 Z46 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Author Notes

Gail Godwin was born on June 18, 1937, in Birmingham, Ala. and graduated from the University of North Carolina and University of Iowa. Godwin writes about strong women, a perspective she gathered from her own life. After her father abandoned her at an early age, she was raised by her mother and grandmother. Her father eventually returned on the day of her high school graduation and she lived with him for a brief period before he ultimately shot and killed himself.

Godwin worked as a reporter for The Miami Herald, and later as a travel consultant before achieving her fame as a writer. Godwin's novels are about contemporary women, frequently Southern, who search for meaning in their lives. In Glass People, the heroine is a beautiful woman who learns that her husband is merely obsessed with her beauty and unconcerned about her as a person. Other popular titles include The Odd Woman and The Good Husband. Godwin has been the recipient of several honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Award in Literature from the American Institute and Academy of Arts and Letters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Godwin, whose most recent novel is the exquisite Flora (2013), shared her journals from 1961 to 1969 in a two-volume set, The Making of a Writer (2006, 2011). In this writer's memoir, she focuses on her adventures seeking and achieving publication and then figuring out how to survive as a writer. Godwin began writing very young, at her writer mother's side, and even attended her mother's alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where, in 1958, a scout working for publisher Alfred A. Knopf briskly turned down Godwin's novel-in-progress. Godwin recounts, with no small satisfaction, that Knopf ended up publishing four of her novels. As she chronicles her struggles to get each of her books into print in a time of constant turmoil in the book world, she candidly shares details regarding her contracts, relationships with agents and editors, and promotional efforts. Godwin also reveals the poignant inspirations for her novels. Avid readers and aspiring writers will find Godwin's generous and spirited meditation on publishing illuminating and affecting.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Novelist Godwin (Flora) traces the trajectory of her career in this memoir, revealing the personal and professional stamina it takes to succeed as a writer in the modern publishing industry. Godwin begins with her college days and retells the story of her first (rejected) submission to Knopf. She goes on to recount her tumultuous experiences with publishers, such as being forced to cut 10,000 words or realizing that the novel she just wrote is unpublishable. Bibliophiles will be delighted to hear about her education with Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Coover, both teachers of hers at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, as well as her friendship with novelist John Irving and, most endearing, her 50-year working relationship with John Hawkins, her literary agent. Godwin's chronicle is often informative but can at times feel self-indulgent-the result of a surfeit of anecdotes. Still, this book succeeds at giving an eye-opening look at the reality of what it takes to publish just one novel-or, in Godwin's case, 14. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

As a successful novelist with 45 years of experience, Godwin (Flora; The Good Husband) offers readers an up-close view of the publishing world and its changes over the years. In this unusual memoir, the author weaves events in her personal and writing life among accounts of her interactions with publishers. These include classes with Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving, meeting with Knopf scouts when she was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and dealing with the various mergers and buyouts that often left her negotiating with new editors. Though the corporatization of publishing must have frustrated Godwin, she seems to accept the changes with little angst. Of particular interest is how she arrived at her story ideas and their connection with events in her life. While she mentions her long-term relationship with Robert Starer and their house in Woodstock, one wishes she had said more about their artistic collaborations. VERDICT Memoir enthusiasts, writers working to get published, and readers interested in a gossipy look into the publishing world will enjoy this book. [See Prepub Alert, 7/7/14.]-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xiii
Publishing Hungerp. 1
The Girls Who Wrote
Pursuit with Interruptionsp. 16
Unhappy Wives at the Ocean's Edge
Unpublished Prosperitiesp. 30
Obscurity and Breakthrough
Publishing Partnersp. 47
The First Eight Books, 1970-1985
Publishing Partners, Continuedp. 76
The Next Nine Books, 1987-2011
The Wings of the Dovep. 109
The Life and Death of a Publisher
The Good Husband, The Sorrowful Mother, and The Red Nunp. 119
Skirmishes and Capitulations
Flora, the Fourteenth Novelp. 140
A Change of Heart and Style
Performancesp. 156
The Public Image
Chronologyp. 195
List of Illustrationsp. 201
Acknowledgmentsp. 205