cover image Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir

Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir

Gail Godwin. Bloomsbury, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62040-824-7

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.)