Sometimes I hear someone criticize me, or another author, by saying “he just wants to sell books.”     That has always struck me as a very strange thing to say.   Of course I want to sell books.  Why else would I write books?   Would I want to write books so no one would read them?  Has there ever been an author on the face of the planet who wanted to write a book that would not be read?

What people actually *mean*by that comment, of course, is far more sinister, snide, and offensive.   What they mean is: “he will say anything in a book in order to get people to buy it.”  There may indeed be authors for whom this is true.   I can’t speak for them, only for myself.   And for myself, this is one charge that I really bristle at.

Almost no one of course comes out and actually makes the charge directly.  But it must be what they mean, since, as I just pointed out, no one actually faults someone for writing a book and wanting it to be read.    So how would you judge if an author is simply making sensationalist claims in order to sell books?   In other words, how would you determine if an author has sacrificed his or her academic and personal integrity in order to become rich and famous?  (For that’s what the charge means: the person has sacrificed integrity.)

In my view, one way to determine this is….

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