Paul, on a related note, I'm looking at the cover of your book and thinking, "That's marketed wrong." I'm reserving judgment about Perry for now, but for all the reasons you note, marketing is important if you have a good idea and want people to pay attention to it. We wouldn't need to admonish people not to judge books by their covers if it weren't a fact that they do. That one says, "For a small circle of academics only."
How would creative people on Ricochet design a cover for that book? It should convey to the people who most need to know how interesting the words in the title really are.
First the good news: This is a great story. It has an exotic locale, mystery, and a narrative voice full of humor and sadness. Reading Fieldwork is like discovering an unpublished Robertson Davies novel; as with Davies, you can't stop reading until midnight (good), and you don't hate yourself in the morning (better). It's a Russian doll of a read, filled with stories within stories. ...
If this is such a good read, what's the bad news? That's easy. As of March 26, Fieldwork was No. 24,571 on the Amazon best-seller list, and not apt to go much higher. The reason why is illustrative of how the book biz became the invalid of the entertainment industry, and why fiction sales are down across the board (with the possible exception of chick lit). Critics, with their stubborn insistence that there's a difference between ''literature'' and ''popular fiction,'' are part of the problem, but the publishers themselves, who have bought into this elitist twaddle, are also to blame. Since we're talking Fieldwork, take Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Publishing houses have two faces. In the case of FSG, Jekyll belongs to the distinguished company that has published such award-winning novels as Gilead, The Great Fire, and The Corrections. Hyde is the side which seems to proclaim ''Don't read this, it's too smart for the likes of you.''
"Don't read this, it's too smart for the likes of you" is what the cover of Paul's book says right now. Let's improve it.