Saturday, April 05, 2008

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Here's more evidence that we have no clue how to predict success: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected by 121 publisher. One hundred and twenty one! Holy shite. I can't imagine living through so many rejections.

I liked the book, but I think it let down the reader by being a search for the definition of quality, and then giving up and never reaching it. I've addressed this before.

Why can't we predict success? When millions of people turn out to love a book, you'd think that one of them would be in the place of one of the 121 editors who the book went through?

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Saturday, April 05, 2008   13 comments links to this post

13 Comments:

At 5 Apr 2008, 17:59:00, Blogger Jimbo said...

How could they ever define it? Philosophy is a dead end. (I know you won't agree with that, but oh well.) The ancients never got anywhere explaining how the universe worked because you can't get there by reasoning from an armchair.

As for success, it might be impossible to predict - possibly because of the number of variables.

 
At 5 Apr 2008, 18:24:00, Blogger eolake said...

Philosophy is simply thinking about Life. That is only a dead end to a dead man.

 
At 5 Apr 2008, 19:25:00, Blogger kronostar said...

The first Chicken Soup for the soul book met with the same amount of rejection too.
I think part of the predictor of success is the tenacity of the person pursuing it. Like you said in an earlier post part of being successful is just sticking to it and not getting discouraged or bored with the job/success you are pursuing.

 
At 5 Apr 2008, 21:30:00, Blogger Jimbo said...

Philosophy is simply thinking about Life. That is only a dead end to a dead man.

Don't think about it too much or anything.

Never let it be said that Eolake Stobblehouse is not open to opposing viewpoints!

 
At 5 Apr 2008, 22:03:00, Blogger eolake said...

What's *up* with that bizarre accusation? I have never once seen a writer write about something and then suddenly say: "gee, you're right, it was just opposite of what I thought." Wouldn't that normally just happen if he had not thought about what he was writing about before he wrote it?

Try and point me to, say, three examples of this happening.

 
At 5 Apr 2008, 22:39:00, Blogger Jimbo said...

Wouldn't that normally just happen if he had not thought about what he was writing about before he wrote it?

Most people are able to at least acknowledge the possibility that they have not looked at something from all angles, that they could possibly be wrong. If you're not willing to do this, why bother with this blog?

I did not mean that all philosophy is useless, but in attempting to answer a question like "what is quality?" it doesn't have a chance.

 
At 5 Apr 2008, 22:45:00, Blogger eolake said...

We may or may not ever find a final answer, but I believe it's essential to try.

I *always* consider other viewpoints. That does not mean I always change my mind. Most things I write about I have thought about for many years, so it does not happen often that I change my mind again.

 
At 5 Apr 2008, 22:50:00, Blogger eolake said...

Hell, I even occasionally consider the viewpoints of people I loathe, like Dubya.

 
At 6 Apr 2008, 00:39:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would anyone in their right mind with an IQ more than twice their shoe size want to even consider what Dubya says about anything? He's a self-centered egotistical asshole.

Ray ('oldest living blogger')

 
At 6 Apr 2008, 00:42:00, Blogger eolake said...

True. I should have been more precise: I've briefly considered viewpoints shared by Dubya ("the war is justified") because they were stated by people I knew to be intelligent, for example writer Orson Scott Card.

 
At 6 Apr 2008, 01:27:00, Blogger Peaceful Blade said...

If I state a point and someone immediately rejects it, I don't judge that person as close-minded. I don't see them that way unless there's a pattern, or they hold completely unreasonable views and won't admit their fallibility. (IE, religious nuts)

Everybody has their own opinions. If they'd budge the first time somebody else shared a different perspective you'd be dealing with people that have no compass of their own. They're easily manipulated into following whatever the latest trend may be, whether it's a new cult or a ridiculous fashion craze. (Or a war that never should have started in the first place.)

You can't easily fault a man for sticking to his point of view when he makes a post that's related to stuff he's probably thought over a million times before. If the only reasonable solution is for someone to agree with you then perhaps you're the one being unreasonable.

This isn't aimed at jimbo specifically, nor is it a defense of Eo. This is more a general commentary on the attitudes that seem prevalent among various commenters, especially our beloved RAF.

 
At 6 Apr 2008, 06:31:00, Blogger The Mess said...

Yeah I really like that book. Perhaps many publisher thougt it was too heavy for normal readers?

 
At 6 Apr 2008, 21:53:00, Blogger Final Identity said...

From the point of view of someone who's been in publishing before, I'd have to say I'm not surprised the book didn't find a traditional outlet easily. It's the sort of thing which succeeded on the basis of a ground-swell (alone), and its internal content was not easily categorized. Publishers -- indeed, nearly all businesses -- prefer something they can identify and cubby-hole, because then they have more of an assurance that it will follow a predictable pattern.

Movies are very much like this. Tarrantino couldn't get anyone to produce "Pulp Fiction" in a traditional studio manner; he had to direct and produce it "himself" (through intermediaries, of course). It doesn't fit a standard category. Neither does the book in question. The ultimate question of "success" or "failure" (market-wise) in this thread, for that book, is more one of how many sales it got, not how good a book it turned out to be.

 

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