On 2010, Google and Not Giving Up

The blog The How to Write Shop has published a nice review of things that happened in the print and publishing world. Probably the most important item on their list is Google announcing its own online e-book store. Why? Because Google tends to dominate every market it enters. Search, e-mail, office applications, website statistics, online advertising…not to mention Android, the OS that powers every popular smart phone except the iPhone. Its impact on the e-book marketplace should be interesting. As of now, their store doesn’t play well with the current king of e-book retailers, Amazon.com, or its Kindle e-reader, but does mesh well with runners-up NOOK and Sony.

The story that wasn’t mentioned but should have been is Karl Marlantes’ book Matterhorn, a novel set during the Vietnam War. Matterhorn isn’t newsworthy because it’s a good book—it’s newsworthy because it was nearly three decades in the making. Marlantes, a former Marine and Vietnam vet, finished the book in 1977. However, he was turned down by publisher after publisher for three decades and given countless pieces of advice on how to change it.

First he was told it was too soon after the unpopular Vietnam War for a book about it. Then he was told that Hollywood had covered the war too recently (“Platoon,” “Full Metal Jacket”), and later that he should set the book in Iraq or Afghanistan to make it more current.

Finally, Barnes & Noble caught wind of the book and helped to line up a publisher. In the meantime, Marlantes was able to refine and improve Matterhorn (on his terms) and shrink it from a chubby 1,600 pages down to a merely stocky 598. The book spent more than two months on the New York Times bestseller list in 2010.

The moral? Don’t give up, and don’t give in to criticism that just doesn’t sit well with you. Marlantes’ 30-year odyssey is a testament to perseverance and telling the story you want to tell.

And watch out for Google in 2011.

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