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Inside Straight: Provide ‘Advance Praise’ For ‘Inside Straight — The Book’!

I’ve relented.

Under extreme pressure from all quarters — well, my wife thought it was a good idea, anyway — I’ve committed to publish a compendium of “Inside Straight” columns in the form of a book. ABA Publishing tells me that, in June, you’ll be able to hold in your hands Inside Straight: [followed by a clever subtitle]! (This obviously remains a work in progress.)

I have two items of good news about the forthcoming book and two requests for your help. First, the good news: The book will not simply be about me; it will also be about you! In addition to reproducing a collection of my columns, the book will include assorted “comments” that you, my readers, have appended to my posts. The book will thus answer many of your burning questions: Do I read the comments? Will I reproduce in the book the nastiest of the comments? (That raises the obvious derivative issue: Am I a self-loathing lunatic?) When I choose which comments to publish in the book, will “Bonobo Bro” make the cut? Will “Concerned Pastafarian”? Find out the answers to those questions — and more! — in Inside Straight: The Book!

The other good news is that David Lat has agreed to contribute a foreword to the book. Whatever you think of the quality of my writing, you know that Lat can write. The foreword alone is worth the entire price of the book!

So much for the good news; now, the requests for your help . . .

First, the book needs a subtitle. We started with Inside Straight: The Story of an On-Line Legal Column, but that doesn’t do the trick. That subtitle doesn’t tell a potential purchaser that the book provides (1) my ruminations about the legal profession, plus (2) intelligent conversations that occasionally break out in the comments to my columns, where readers debate issues of life and law, plus (3) the commenters’ usual vicious attacks on me, my family, and the horse we rode in on. I’m currently leaning toward calling the book Inside Straight: The Advice of a Blawger, the Vitriol of the Commenters, and the Wisdom of Crowds. That would tell a potential purchaser what’s in the book, but I hate the word “blawger,” which is both too obscure and likely to quickly fall out of fashion. So help me: Please suggest a subtitle for the book.

I also need your help on another front. Before a book is published, the author must solicit “advance praise” for the manuscript. “Advance praise” is those silly little blurbs raving about a book that appear on the back cover and first page or two of the published work. I figure that you, my loyal readers, may be a uniquely good source of “advance praise” for my book, so I’m asking you to contribute.

If you’re a regular reader of “Inside Straight,” then you have a pretty good sense of what the book is going to say. You should thus be able to provide a short (150 words or fewer) reaction to the manuscript for us to reproduce in the final work.

If you’d like to contribute advance praise, feel free simply to post your words as an anonymous comment below. We’ll pick and choose from among your contributions and publish the best (attributed only to your screen name) in the book. (Actually, we may publish the worst of the advance praise, too. I personally might be tempted to buy a book if I popped open the front cover and read advance praise that said something like: “Herrmann, you idiot! You’ve wasted our time for 18 months on-line and now you’re assembling that pablum into a book? What in God’s name is wrong with you?”)

If you’d prefer actual attribution of your reaction to the forthcoming book, then use the link provided below to send me an e-mail that includes both your praise and your name and contact information. We’ll again pick and choose from among the suggestions that we receive, and we’ll publish the most interesting in the book.

And that’s not all!

I’m not simply going to reproduce in the book the advance praise that you provide. I’ll probably also use this post — and these very words — as the final chapter in the book. That means that the book will have a pretty dull ending unless you, my readers, do your most creative work in the comments that you append to this post.

If this book is going to end with a bang, not a whimper, then it’s up to you! Commenters, don’t fail me now!

Mark Herrmann is the Vice President and Chief Counsel – Litigation at Aon, the world’s leading provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human capital and management consulting. He is the author of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law (affiliate link). You can reach him by email at

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