Tomorrow, Full Stop will publish its first-ever book, titled, fittingly, Full Stop: The Book. Collecting the best work of our first five years, the book will help support Full Stop’s goal of paying young writers for expansive, interesting, and often strange literary criticism. Here’s one of the book’s two introductions. You can pre-order the book here.
If, for some reason, you read the introduction to the other part of this book first, you may have heard that Full Stop is the product of deep resentment, a futile endeavor persisting in the shadows of our more esteemed contemporaries for no other reason than spite. Well, we think that’s a super philosophy. Our fellow editors mean well, they really do. But just between us, they are a pathetic lot. Just look how far we’ve come: Five years ago, we were making a silly little WordPress site at a terrible domain name. And now? We’re self-publishing a freaking book! Just like Edgar Allan Poe. Just like E. L. James. Just like Hugh Howey.
Our colleagues view self-publishing as a sign of defeat. They crave the acknowledgment and approval of elites: high school English teachers, socialist professors at small liberal arts colleges in the Midwest, commissioning editors, Jon-Jon Goulian. Apparently it isn’t enough that former MTV VJ Jesse Camp once called us the “Mad Men of 2012.” That’s like being called the Breaking Bad of 2013. Or the Walking Dead of 2014. It’s not their fault, though. Some people can never believe in themselves, until someone believes in them.
We, on the other hand, see this self-published book as a badge of honor. Remember: In 1905, there were hundreds of professors renowned for their studies of the universe, but it was a 26-year-old Swiss patent clerk doing physics in his spare time who changed the world. That’s because the biggest names have always been the outsiders: C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Diane Lane. We would like to say that we follow in this proud tradition, but we don’t. We lead it. We don’t know much, but we know that.
Therefore, the book that you hold in your hands as you take a number two, or maybe even a number three, is not the product of resentment. No, it is a victory lap—the culmination of five years of spinning the literary world on our fingertip before throwing it off the backboard for a self-published alley-oop. You come to us now as we stand atop the rubbish heap of history—atop The American Reader, atop Al Jazeera America, atop the New Republic, atop Muamar Gaddafi Monthly. And to you we ask: How do you like them apples?
So instead of the Keebler Elves’ stages of death or whatever the others were talking about, here are Full Stop’s five stages of success. If you’re reading this book, you probably already know them, but it won’t hurt to brush up. And if you’re not reading this book, then how are you reading this book?
- We brought the novel back from the brink of death by focusing on small presses, debuts, and works in translation.
- We got over one million visits from people searching a period on Google.
- We told a room of UPenn brats to go ahead and switch the style up.
- We made Jonathan Franzen answer to NPR about his suspicious library dealings.
- We cemented our legacy by self-publishing a book of our greatest hits, including the best criticism, interviews, and essays money can buy after reading them for free on the internet.
Time’s up. Good day, readers. And until that day comes, keep your ear to the grindstone.
—The Other Editors