Reading between the lines
Those of you who are 24fans will remember that in Monday’s episode (semi-spoiler alert for those of you who have squirreled away the episode on the DVR) the President tells Jack Bauer to “do what [he] feels is right.” Jack interprets (correctly) that the president is tacitly authorizing him to use any means — legal or illegal — to stop the terrorists.
Fortunately, in book publicity — and book publishing in general — we do not, in fact, need to resort illegal means to sell books. (Or not yet, at least.) But the point I’m trying to raise is that it’s worthwhile giving instructions some thought rather than blindly following them.
For example, when a book editor asks an assistant or an intern to “Call the publicist for a copy of Fahrenheit 451,” they may not necessarily mean call. The publicist. For a copy of the book. What they mean, really, is get the book, and quickly more often than not. (For the record, calling a publicist you don’t know from Adam for a book is an inefficient way to request it because it’s difficult to pass on a message if the call comes to the wrong person — or department, as is often the case — it takes time to write down contact information and there’s no way file, and therefore follow up, on the request. Not to mention this process is made 10 times more difficult if, like yours truly, your handwriting is illegible.)
I’m not advocating disrespect for direction / instructions. I myself am a bit of a goody two-shoes when it comes to rules: heaven forbid I recycle a #5 yogurt container when only #1 and #2 bottles and containers are accepted by the sanitation department. And certainly, some times instructions should be followed to the letter — as in 1040A, for example. But some times, in some situations, it’s really the end that matters, not so much the means. For those of us accustomed to — quite literally — reading the lines, some times we need to read between them.
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