Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Page 99 Test

I am preparing my paper for Kalamazoo, and so turned to thinking about visiting the table for Dream Press, where it has been suggested that a not-quite-published version of my book may be on display. Or not.

But really, the publication date (according to Amazon) is right around the corner. And so maybe it's fortuitous that, while I was supposed to be working on revising my paper, I stumbled upon a link (over at Historiann's place) to "the page 99 test" blog. I'd never heard of this before, but according to the blog owner, English novelist Ford Maddox Ford once said: ""Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you."

So for fun, I decided to apply this to my own book's page proofs. Here's what I found on this page:

Pro:
  • A rather interesting subtopic, and at least one intriguing (to me) question posed
  • Good weaving together of primary and secondary sources
  • An awareness of how this subtopic might play out in regions other than the one I'm studying/awareness of the broader scholarly field
  • generally good writing
  • where original analysis appears, it's generally good and subtle

Con:
  • no real link to the huge big argument of the book
  • overuse of scare quotes
  • most of this page is engaging with broader literature, so there's less of my work on display here

On the whole, if someone started with this page, do I think they'd want to read more of the book? You betcha. So I guess that's a success.

2 comments:

rootlesscosmo said...

On the whole, if someone started with this page, do I think they'd want to read more of the book? You betcha.

I would add that this puts you one up on Ford himself, at least as regards "The Good Soldier;" I just reread Page 99 at Google Books, and it wouldn't make me eager to read the whole book, though the book's opening line grabbed me when I read it 35 years ago.

Dr. Vehlow said...

I am pretty sure I have seen DreamBook safe and sound at the recent desert convention. I was gushing!!