Popular novels today are generally introduced to the reader in terms of the publications that have, wittingly or unwittingly, awarded them five stars on some unknown and unscientific ranking systems.

Books scream to the potential reader, “read me! read me!”, reading this book will change your life.

In some ways it has always been thus, eighteenth and nineteenth century publisher produced glowing lists of forthcoming titles to remind and to tempt the reader to come back for more. But these were often tempered by the author’s own advertisements and addresses published at the start of volume one. These were often altogether more humble and realistic addresses which many modern authors might benefit by considering.

Purely for information and entertainment i shall reproduce a few as I come across them.

This from Eleanor Sleath’s first novel The Orphan of the Rhine published by Minerva in 1798.

THE AUTHOR OF THE FOLLOWING PAGES
presents them to the Public with a sentiment of
respectful diffidence. She avows them as her first
performance, and must therefore appeal to the
candour and indulgence of the liberal.
As works of this kind are universally read, and,
if written with discretion, are allowed by the
strictest moralists to be, at least, innocent, she
feels the less need of an apology for thus adding to
the amply supplied treasury of literary amuse-
ment, of which this country boasts; and should
her production contribute, in the smallest degree,
to the entertainment of those who may honour it
with a perusal, she will consider the hours spent
in its composition as having been not unprofitably
employed, and will deem her exertions more than
adequately rewarded.

The punctuation is all Mrs Sleath’s.

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