July 22, 2014

What to write to your author after he is gored by a bull


BullfighterDear Bill,

So, aside from the goring, Mrs. Lincoln, how was your trip to Spain?

Ha, ha. I kid, I kid. But our team was sorry to hear about all that and hope you’re resting well.

When you’re back on your feet, we should talk about a revised edition of Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona. It’s an e-only title and our production department is eager to get these changes up soon. Though we’re sorry you’ve suffered in recent weeks — boy, it would be great if they could get your right leg working again! — you’ve handled the publicity like a champ. There’s a renewed interest in your book, even from people beyond the bullfighting community.

So, as discussed, a new edition is in order. First: the title. We’ll want to add some sort of parenthetical to the end: (Updated Edition). Let’s also talk about changing the subtitle, something like How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona… From Someone Who’s Been There. Or How to Avoid the Bulls of Pamplona Altogether.

It would be great if you could add some sort of introduction. You might expand your column for the Washington Post  (love the part where you say “Danger has always been a part of my life”), or write something about the personal changes you’ve experienced since you experienced goring firsthand. You could talk about the friends you interviewed about their goring experiences, and how their suggestions helped or didn’t help. Was there anything that surprised you? How has the goring affected your marriage? (We can talk with your publicist about putting something together for a “Modern Love” column, when we’re closer to the re-release date.)

In chapter three, section six, after “Callejón (The Tunnel),” you have the opportunity to add a chapter. We could call it, “What to do if you’re struck by a bull,” “Plan B,” or “Uh-oh: Worst-case scenario.” Your readers will learn how to get out of the ring and what to expect from the healing process. Share as much as you’re comfortable sharing.

Another idea: In appendix one, after “Where to stay” and “What to eat and drink,” let’s add a list of local emergency numbers. Better safe than sorry.

Remember, you haven’t lost any credibility. If anything, you are more qualified to be the author of this book after such an experience. Think of Hemingway: “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bullfighters.”

Looking forward to discussing your revisions at the earliest opportunity.

All best,

Your editor

P.S. If you can, try to wear a color other than red for your next interview. For obvious reasons. Talk soon!


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.