Things Change

There are many aspects to publishing a book that I did not expect. Not that strange as it is my first, but in all that time imaging the process, there are a number of things that I did not foresee. Most disquieting is the constantly shifting finish line: much of that can be attributed to my neurotic “writerly” tendencies, which manages to hate giving up the text for review but can’t wait for an opportunity to edit. As much as I love to cut and craft sentences of mine, I have endured a strange dislocation when turning in the manuscript (Finished!) only to be reminded that of the editorial process (Not so fast, bub!).

And thank God for that process. So far, it has resulted in correcting the following issues:

  • first editorial pass of the manuscript reveals more than a few tortured and convoluted sentences meant, I can only imagine, to impress people with my vocabulary and syntactical prowess, but that instead lead to confusion and frustration in the reader: also abandoned was my theory that the entire second season was a dream of Don Draper’s … and I really thought I was on to something
  • second editorial pass from the proofreader reveals my unfamiliarity with the Chicago Manual of Style, despite the presence of said tome next to my desk: in all fairness, it’s a really big manual and I’m really lazy: upside is I learn the meaning and power of the word “stet” and wedge it into everyday conversation (for audience reaction, see “confusion and frustration” above)
  • third pass from the typesetter exposes a pathetic reliance on “typecasting” in the cast bios, as if that is the only spine on which to build the body of someone’s life and work: I also discover that I have a bizarre reliance on the phrase “pop culture landscape”, as if I am the Mercator of unauthorized television guides

Perhaps just as interesting to me (and possibly nobody else) is how the book has changed from pitch to publication. Notably, there are a few things I wanted to cover in the book that I didn’t. They are almost all in the realm of literary reference and context, and I admit that I wish I’d had the time to cover Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and W.H. Auden’s The Age of Anxiety (although the latter would have been quite a stretch, refracted through the title bestowed on the works of Richard Yates). I also didn’t write a chapter on the Gaslight Cafe, as I felt it was too season one centered, and the same with a proposed chapter on the mainstream acceptance of psychoanalysis.

Oddly, the one thing that didn’t change for me was the title of the book. Fortunately, it wasn’t until well after writing the book that I realized how close the title was to an autobiography by advertising legend David Ogilvy. I’d like to say I was savvy enough to hope for accidental search engine hits, but that’d be a bald-faced lie.

I did craft a list of possible title alternatives. I think you’ll agree I was right not to change it.

Madison Avenue Swells
The Show in the Gray Flannel Suit
Madison Avenue Freak-Out (for when the series hits the late sixties)
Ring-a-Ding-Ding: The Cool Cats & Kittens of “Mad Men”
How to Succeed in Advertising Without Really Mussing Your Hair
Kings of Madison Avenue, Princes of Sterling Cooper


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