Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

AN APPEAL TO MY READERS

My Memoirs are almost at the 500 pages mark, and a number of you have asked whether they will be published. I contacted a big deal New York agent, who said in no uncertain terms that there is no market for my Memoirs, since I am neither famous nor infamous. I would love to bring them out in book form when they are done. Does anyone have a concrete suggestion?

17 comments:

Benjamin said...

You could try a print-on-demand service. These work making the book available for order on a website, and when people order a copy the publisher prints out a copy and ships it. This way those of us who have been enjoying your blog and would like a hard copy can order a copy, without needing to interest a publisher or put up any of your own money for vanity publishing.

Andrew Sepielli said...

I wasn't aware that you had to be famous or infamous to publish a memoir these days. What about all the 20-something writers whose FIRST BOOKS are memoirs -- Dave Eggers' Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, etc.? Last time I checked, that sold okay.

Also, I wouldn't ignore the effect of this blog in creating a market. I'm hooked, and I'm know lots of others are, too. I'd try another agent.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Benjamin and Andrew, thank you both for the advice. I am going to pursue it somehow.

M said...

One of the university presses may be interested, especially given the enthusiastic reception that you have received from the philosophical community after Leiter's link to your blog. Yale University Press published the autobiography of another academic, Richard Pipes, a few years ago (sorry to mention such a conservative author; I bring up the book only to suggest a publication opportunity). The University of Chicago Press published Noel Annan's book The Dons, which was not an autobiography, but did profile of a number of professors from Oxford and Cambridge.

Besides the university presses, Harper Perennial published the memoirs of the philosopher Colin McGinn in 2003.

Awesome said...

I think Penn State Press published Morton White's memoirs.

I agree with Andrew Sepielli that it would be more sensible to opt for the Eggers over the Quine model of marketing the book. That is, as an interesting piece of writing that happens to be a memoir rather than a sequence of events connected by the fact that the same famous philosopher was present at all of them.

JACK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

It seems hard for me to believe that there's less of an audience for this than for McGinn's memoir, noted below. That was, to my mind, much less enjoyable and harder to understand the market for. (The philosophy in it seemed likely to be too introductory for philosophers but too dry or abstract for non-philosophers, and the gossippy parts were not, to my mind, likely to be of much interest to people who were not Colin McGinn or his close friends.

JACK said...

by happenstance I came across a Harvard professor named Israel Schaeffer, who printed a set of philosophical memoirs sort of like these, with reminiscences of Nelson Goodman, Noam Chomsky and others. The publisher information and a preview is available here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=q_UI5cC3QlsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=9781402027109&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false

sort of edit: His name is Scheffler, so maybe be prepared to get your named spelled wrong if you follow his path

A student said...

Strictly speaking, A Heartbreaking Work is better framed as creative nonfiction, rather than memoir. I think it also presented, basically, as _a_ story, rather than a set of stories.

To the question at hand: I know nothing about the phenomenon called "self-publishing," but I've heard the term tossed around quite a bit. It might be what Benjamin described.

I see the publisher's point from a financial perspective. However, it isn't uncommon to publish works regarding the lives of figures only known in some circles. Hume and Rousseau are probably very little known outside of academia (perhaps a broad understanding of academia), but Eidinow and Edmonds managed to push that through; and Popper and Wittgenstein are still less famous, but the same authors published Wittgenstein's Poker.

While you wouldn't qualify as famous, per se, I think you're likely known well enough among academics, and certainly among philosophers, that there's a real possibility. Still, in order to do that, you might have to toy with your presentation quite a bit, tying the events together and so on.

Alternatively, you could do something to become infamous.

NotHobbes said...

http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/design/crossmedia_resources/ebooks_software.html

Go with the times Professor, stuff the publishers!

Ann said...

You are at least as entertaining as Julie Power. Just let us "followers" make your case for you!
:-)

andrEw said...

I realize you are not as popular as Quine, but your memoirs are much more interesting, and that has got to count for something! I cannot imagine why these wouldn't get printed somewhere, there are a lot of small university presses, and from reading about you recently it does not seem as if you're on OUP or nothing type of person. I'd say just keep plugging it, I'm looking forward to picking up a copy!

Jim said...

I just received an email alert from Amazon.com titled "This Week's New Biographies and Memoirs". Topping the list is "No Wonder My Parents Drank" by SNL alum Jay Mohr and the new paperback edition of Christopher Buckley's "Losing Mum and Pup". Given the diverse amount of offerings in the marketplace, there should certainly be room for the memoirs of Professor Robert Paul Wolff. I, for one, would definitely purchase a copy upon release.

bill said...

Perhaps you got to know John Edgar Wideman while he was teaching at UMass. He's recently published a collection of essays with what might have been considered a 'vanity' press. I believe he's given a few interviews on why he chose to do this - in any event, his lead might be an option for you. I'd certainly buy a copy.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Bill, I did know John, but not well. It is an interesting lead. I know a number of people through whom I might approach him. Thanks.

Königsberg walker said...

It's important not to sell oneself short with a vanity press or print on demand service. Quite a few academics get their memoirs published in larger presses, reaching a wider audience. These memoirs are certainly well written enough to deserve that.

b.f. said...

The university of illinois press, which published stefan bradley's Harlem vs. Columbia University book, might be interested in publishing your memoir, perhaps.