In case you haven’t been following the events surrounding the any-day-now publication of Liberal Fascism, the long-delayed book by sci-fi-nerd-turned-right-wing-gasbag Jonah Goldberg, Timothy Noah at Slate has vouchsafed us the information that there’s yet another hiccup. Jonah hasn’t actually finished the book yet, which, since it’s being put out by an actual, legitimate publishing house instead of Regnery, might be causing his editor some small dismay, as well as generating a few sternly worded e-mails regarding the disposition of his advance.
Not that I am eagerly looking forward to its publication – I’m sure it will be as worth reading as everything else he’s ever written, which is to say slightly less so than the publication indicia of a desk calendar – but I must say I feel for Jonah. Obviously, he’s been under a lot of pressure to deliver a book that was supposed to have been published two years ago and that he hasn’t bothered to get around to writing yet, and that pressure is starting to get to him.
I’m here to help. As a semi-professional freelance writer who has never missed a paid deadline, I’m willing to step in with some words of advice for a man who, unlike most writers, never had to go through the learning curve experienced by those of us who don’t have rich parents who lined us up with our cushy jobs. So, Jonah, here’s some things to think about while you work on that swell book of yours.
1. In the future, think about actually completing a significant portion of the book before you take the royalty check. I know that you were made to understand that your fame as a professional blowhard would insulate you from the requirements of stuff like professionalism, quality and originality, but you do actually have to write the book at some point, and maybe two years after announcing its publication is not the best time to start.
2. Speaking of making announcements, try and clear these with your publisher beforehand. So far, you’ve made seven public announcements of the book’s imminence, which, had you checked with the people at Doubleday, you would have discovered might have been better timed if they had come after the completion of the book.
3. I am not one to judge people for their hobbies. After all, I contribute to five separate blogs and/or message boards, and only two of them pay me to do so. So I’m not one to scold you for spending approximately seventeen hours a day online exchanging speculation with John Podhoretz at the Corner about whether or not Adama is a Ceylon. Then again, I am not going around telling everyone how I can’t make deadlines on my book because I’m just too busy. Maybe, since your book is only 272 pages long, you should spend some of the time you’d usually use for ragging on Kathryn Jean Lopez for not being able to identify all of the bridge crew of the starship Enterprise by their first names on writing Liberal Fascism instead. You’d probably be able to crank it out in a week with that substitution alone.
4. Blaming your inability to complete your work on the birth of your daughter is a tiny bit chickenshit, considering that she was not even conceived at the time the book was originally scheduled for publication. Also, “work distractions” is a whole lot of chickenshit: if you accepted money to write this book, which I’m guessing you did, then it is work. It’s only a hobby if you don’t get paid for it, and saying your ‘real’ work got in the way is pretty insulting to the people who paid you to write the book.
5. Speaking of insulting your publishers, your claim that the book “isn’t what the Amazon description says” is a bit odd, considering that Amazon’s description came from the publisher, and the publisher’s description came from you. What you’re really saying is that your book is not what you say your book is, which, honestly, wouldn’t surprise me.
6. Finally, while I’m glad that unlike most writers, you have maintained the necessary objectivity to claim that your book is “a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care”. However, you might wanna get that message to Doubleday, who believe that your book is on a level of serious thoughtfulness that deserves this on the cover.