Top Ten Things Not to Do at the First Publication of an American Novel in 1789

The Power of Sympathy

 

This post continues the Top Ten Things Not to Do with a historical background. Today is the 230th anniversary of the publication of the first American novel. Its title was “Power of Sympathy,” and it was written by William Hill Brown. If you were there when this event happened, there are some things you should not have done. In case you have a time machine and plan to go here is a list of the Top Ten Things Not to Do to keep you out of trouble.

Top Ten Things Not to Do at the First Publication of An American Novel in 1789. By John W. Howell © 2019

10 If you are there when published, do not complain about the nine shilling price. If you do, at best you’ll come off like a cheap skate. At worst, the publisher will take your name and vow never to publish anything you write. (I guess you can take this guy off your query list, Gael. Of course, you never got a response to the ten you did send already.)

9 If you are there when published, do not try to take more than one bookmark being handed out by Tiny the WWF champ. If you do, at best Tiny will merely take the extra back, At worst, Tiny, who has just been expelled from empathy school, will assume you are challenging his authority, (Looks like it is time to head for the door, Gino)

8 If you are there when published, do not wear your I love New York t-shirt. If you do, at best no one will notice. At worst, since the book was published in Boston, you might have to deal with rabid Bostonians who hate New York for whatever reason. (Don’t try to write it off as loyal Red Sox fans, Griffith. Baseball is still not played. The first game was in 1846 fifty-seven years from now.)

7 If you were there when published, do not write a review before you have read the book. If you do, at best no one will read it. At worst, the author will have his second call upon you. (The subject at hand is a duel, Gabian. I hope you know your way around flintlock dueling pistols.)

6 If you were there when published, do not ask when the Kindle edition will be available. If you do, at best you’ll get puzzled looks. At worst, once you explain the Kindle, you’ll be spending some quality time in the stocks. (They don’t exactly believe in witches, Gadhi, but you are as close to one as they can imagine. Look forward to some moments of panic in the dunking chair. I would just tell them you are a witch.)

5 If you are there when published, do not say to the author that you are thinking of writing a book as well. If you do, at best he’ll just laugh. At worst, you’ll experience the weightlessness that comes from falling through a trap door leading to the swamp. ( Now you know why the author stood in that one location with his arm resting on a lever, Gaelan. Authors hate it when folks think writing a book is so damn easy.)

4 If you are there when published, do not ask for an author autograph on anything but the book. If you do, at best he might sign your paper with the name of his carriage driver. At worst, the people behind you who are holding a book will shame you into a purchase. (By shame we are talking about that musket in your face, Gairbhith.  These people really love the author)

3 If you are there when published, do not ask the author if he has been thinking of getting a real job. If you do, at best you will be shown the door. At worst, you will have asked the question that the author’s spouse asked over breakfast this morning. (This seems to be a sore spot with the author, Galeun. Time to think of a graceful way to get out fast.)

2 If you are there when published, do not ask the author when his next book is coming out. If you do, at best the author has another book coming out. At worst, the author has a bad case of writer’s block and is near insanity with worry. (Yes he is holding the cleaver that used to be on the sideboard, Galton. Yes, he has a fiery look in his eye. Yes, he is coming for you.)

1 If you are there when published, do not suggest a plot that you believe the writer will want to write. If you do, at best you will get a kind smile. At worst, the author, having heard ten other plot ideas already today, will walk away. (I wouldn’t call it rude, Galyn. I would call it your life-saving technique.)

58 comments

  1. Despite them all being great (as usual), my favorite is number 3.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, GP. Looks like the majority view.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I will carry your list around with me at the next reading I attend. Everyone in “Women Who Write,”a state wide group in NJ, has aspirations of being the next great, best selling author. Your advice will come in very handy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ronnie. I hope it keeps you out of trouble.

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  3. Have to agree with GP. 3 really strikes a chord with me. Some things never change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Thanks, Charles.

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  4. You know what would be a good follow-up to this list, John…wait, is that Tiny? I think I’ll be going now.

    57 years before baseball? That must have been a glorious time to be reading. Of course, it was also about 90 years before electricity. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good old candelight. Thanks, Dan

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Can I have another bookmark? Mine caught fire in the candle.”

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  5. Gwen Plano · ·

    I couldn’t help but chuckle at #3. Writers might fantasize about or hold a “real job” but they are driven to write. 😀

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    1. I guess that is the reason. Thanks, Gwen.

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  6. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    Wow 230 years since the first American novel was published! A great list with some timeless sdvice:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Denise.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. …so when is next coming up? lol
    and sigh, I’m always complaining :)))

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wait a minute. In a duel, I get the choice of weapons. I choose dry-cured salami’s.

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    1. I thought you would go for the potato. Dry cured salami’s it is. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No way, your little potato bites.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Only toes. Her greeting.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. So funny, John! Number 7 is a hoot. I’ve read many reviews on Goodreads where it seems the reviewer hasn’t read the book. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are right. A few of mine appear to be that way. Thanks, Jill

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So many of these sound familiar, John, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You think? I just had to pull from experience. The one I didn’t list was, “Have you written anything I might have read?”

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  11. I had no idea! I bet that first edition is worth at least nine dollars now.

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    1. Ha haha. I’ll bet so. Maybe even nine-fifty. Thanks, Susie.

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  12. Can’t help but wonder just how many of these you, yourself has experienced, John 😉
    Great list, as per usual!!

    Wonder what that 9 shillings is worth today? Yes, I know, I could look it up…ok, I did…without taking up my whole morning, 9 shillings in 1790 (would not let me choose 1789) would be worth £34.54 in 2017 (couldn’t get it for another year) which equals $44.40 US… quite the bargain in today’s prices, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, a bargin for sure. Thanks, Dale.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the warning, John. As a time traveller, I may avoid 1789. However, if I do visit, I may pick up a signed copy of the book, but I won’t ask why there aren’t any coloured pictures in the book or tell the author that it’s missing an ISBN on the back cover. And, if I mention selling it on Amazon, I will agree that there is a market for books in the Amazon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He might think you are talking about the river. Give it a try anyway. Thaks, Hugh

      Liked by 1 person

  14. John,

    Nine shillings huh? I’ll remember not to ask if there’s a Barnes and Noble club member discount . . .

    And the dunking chair SOUNDS like a great time, but it lies. And no, I’m never going to admit I dabbled in witchcraft to these peeps. I have no desire to be a human s’more.

    Great history lesson in ten easy steps Boss!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Marc. Fun too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Palenty of fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Wow, John. This is an extra-cool bit of “this day in history” — love it. The image of the book interior is icing on the cake. And so true about the cleaver. LOL.
    Mega hugs.

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  16. HaHa, things haven’t changed much, have they??!

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  17. Oh my! I can just imagine the reaction to the question about Kindle. 🙂 Fun ones, John!

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  18. Nothing has changed in 230 years! Spouses are still asking you when you will get a real job and everyone is still giving out plot ideas. I’ll have two bookmarks please, one for my friend.

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  19. Hmm…Good notes for the modern writers too! 🙂

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  20. Loved this as always, my friend. Writing is soooo easy. I love that quote from Ernest Hemingway “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” With a little assist from Tiny of course.

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  21. Some of these apply no matter the form of writing. When I began my blog, my mother’s most often-asked question wasn’t “Which topic did you choose today?” It was, “When are you going to stop playing with that computer?”

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    1. Ha ha ha. Sounds pretty typical. Thanks, Linda.

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  22. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this great post from John Howell’s Fiction Favorites blog with the Top Ten Things Not to Do at the First Publication of An American Novel in 1789

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Don.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Tiny expelled from empathy school, explaining Kindle and avoiding being a witch, and the New York T shirt. That’s a hat trick of hilarity, John. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jennie

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, John.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Haha, John. Number 10 might help the author with Number 9 though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Thanks, Robbie.

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  25. This is going to come in handy when I finally finish that time platform, John.
    Though I suppose if I did ever complete it, I’d already know about it, wouldn’t I?
    Well this just sucks…

    Great post, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Okay. Here my take on this post. Unless I missed something, we’ve come a long way since those days. Nowadays we put the author’s name on the cover, and I’m impressed that you knew we still used shillings in 1789 (I didn’t).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As usual you have reduced the post to its essence, Andrew. Authors on the cover. Yes, the resarch came up with shillings. I too was surprised. I would have thought we had thrown off the monatary system of the oppressive monarchy. Which makes me wonder when the penny, nickle , dime , quarter, and dollar stuff first stared to be used. Well the answer is, after the establishment of congress the system was established but no one used it. It wasn’t until before the civil war that the system was accepted throughout the country. Phew. Glad to know that information. Thanks for the comment. I know TMI in my answer.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. […] https://johnwhowell.com/2019/01/21/top-ten-things-not-to-do-at-the-first-publication-of-an-american-… “This post continues the Top Ten Things Not to Do with a historical background. Today is the 230th anniversary of the publication of the first American novel. Its title was “Power of Sympathy,” and it was written by William Hill Brown. If you were there when this event happened, there are some things you should not have done. In case you have a time machine and plan to go here is a list of the Top Ten Things Not to Do to keep you out of trouble.” […]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for th elink, Traci.

      Like

    2. Thank you, Traci

      Like

  28. Referring to #9, why am I not surprised Tiny has failed empathy class? This guy from the future should take his one bookmark and shut the heck up before he’s turned into a human pretzel or a human bookmark. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha haha. I love your advice, Suzanne. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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