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Archives: November 2006

A Lesson in Self-Promotion

David Louis Edelman catalogs all his efforts to promote his first novel, the SF/thriller Infoquake, breaking them down into “well worth doing,” “may have had some positive impact, but it’s hard to tell,” and “seemingly no impact.” What he’s learned, he says, is that good self-promotion doesn’t have to be a financial suckhole, but perhaps more importantly, “you, the author, are the only one who really gets to decide if you succeeded or not.”

Turns out author marketing was also on Miami Herald contributor Richard Pachter’s mind. The idea that “authors are now expected to play an active role in book marketing and promotion” is probably old hat to ‘Cat readers, I suppose, but writers like Joseph Finder, Edna Buchanan, and Les Standiford provide a good introduction to the issues, while Da Capo publicity director Lissa Warren discusses what authors should be bringing up with their publishers about their support of the book.

“Tell Me What You Want Me to Draw”:Behind the Scenes with Heroes Artist

timsales-artwork.jpgIn a New York Post interview, comic book artist Tim Sale describes his work as the man behind the artwork on Heroes, the hit NBC drama about a world in which people struggle to come to terms with their emerging superhuman abilities, including a painter whose brightly colored canvases depict a horrific future (which, as the example at left shows, centers around the fate of a cheerleader with mysterious invulnerability). “The art drives the narrative much more than I thought it would have,” Sales admits. “The point of the artwork is for it to be eerily familiar to the viewer – ‘Where have I seen that before?’”

One interesting aspect of the process is that Sales is colorblind, so all the vibrant hues in the “paintings” (and the comic book within the fictional story) are added to his original drawings by computer before the artwork is printed on canvas.

Six Writers, United by Sculpture

roots-sculpture.jpgTonight at the Yeshiva University Museum (15 W. 16th St.), six writers will come together for a reading of new works inspired by the Orna Ben-Ami sculpture “Roots” (right). The fiction, non-fiction, and poetry that Lynda Curnyn, Tracy Marx, Sima Rabinowitz, Hasanthika Sirisena, Lisa Sklar, and Dorothy Spears will read was commissioned by the museum as an added feature to its “Feminine Principals: Works in Iron, Fiber and Glass” exhibit, in which the sculpture is showcased, and focuses on “the contrasting experiences of rootedness and rootlessness.” The gallery opens at 6 p.m. with the authors starting up an hour later.

Laura “JT Leroy” Albert on Internet Radio

I admit it—I’ve only just started listening to R.U. Sirius’s podcast interview with Laura Albert, I couldn’t tell you everything she says about her career as JT Leroy, though she starts out by explaining why she agreed to give her first post-controversy interview to The Paris Review rather than Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair: “When Paris Review came, I just felt like, they’re a literary magazine, and I’m a writer, you know? At the end of the day, what I was interested in were people who take problems of the spirit, problems of the soul, and transform them into problems of craft.”

Some of the other parts of the show I did sample include some NSFW words, so you might want to break out the headphones if you plan to listen at your desk. Also, you have to fast-forward through a bunch of stuff about whatever it is that happened over at Valleywag.

Survival Tips from the Great White North

Canadian publisher Raincoast Books is sponsoring a contest to promote the bestselling Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook franchise, inviting people to submit their own amateur instructional videos illustrating various “survival” tips, from (to use their examples) how to get gum out of your hair to how to win a hockey fight. Or, in the case of this promotional video, how to jump into a dumpster:

According to Monique Trottier, Raincoast’s internet marketing manager, putting that video up on YouTube has already landed the animator a gig making a rap video. Trottier adds that although they haven’t received a huge number of entries since the contest began two weeks ago, she expects the majority to arrive just before the entry window closes at the end of January. “This audience likes to spend a lot of time planning, creating and then adding finishing touches,” she says. “What I am hoping is that holiday time is typically when people receive new technology presents such as cellphones with video cameras, digital cameras, new computers, etc., and that during the holidays those folks will be looking for a fun way to test out their new toys.” The winner will receive a $500 shopping spree at one of several participating Canadian retailers…and, yes, you do have to be a Canadian resident to win.

Free Sci-Fi for Our Soldiers in Iraq

Science fiction novelist John Scalzi has made arrangements with Tor Books to release free electronic versions of The Ghost Brigades for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. All they need to do to get their copies is email Scalzi with a .mil address, and he’ll send them an RTF file. This is actually the second time Scalzi’s done a giveaway of this nature; last year, he offered active military personnel his Hugo-nominated debut novel, Old Man’s War, and received “a few hundred” requests. “Since we told folks in Iraq/Afghanistan that they were free to make copies for others over there,” he observes, “it’s possible the number of copies in circulation increased over there; it’s easier to make a copy off your friend’s laptop than to send me an e-mail and have me mail you a copy, after all.”

Random House UK gets Wodehouse backlist

Random House, Rogers Coleridge & White and the Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate today announced that Arrow Books will publish 43 P.G. Wodehouse titles in paperback when the Penguin licenses expire in 2008. The books will be published in new editions within the space of a single year as part of a major campaign designed to revitalize the sales of one of the world’s greatest writers of humor. The new paperback editions will join the existing trade paperback omnibuses of selected Wodehouse titles published by Hutchinson and will be represented by the same sales team as the uniform hardback editions published by Everyman.

Anthony Whittome, Editorial Director at Hutchinson said in a press release issued late yesterday: “Ever since we acquired rights in P.G. Wodehouse we have wanted to publish his major titles in Arrow and it is a huge vote of confidence in the strength of our mass-market division that the time has now arrived. The energy, imagination and professionalism of the Arrow team will further increase sales of an author who since the time of Hilaire Belloc has been universally acclaimed as the master of humorous writing, and will introduce him to a completely new range of readers.”

In a separate but simultaneous deal Hutchinson and Arrow have contracted an authoritative new volume of the Selected Letters of P.G. Wodehouse edited by Sophie Ratcliffe for publication in 2009.

Bebe Moore Campbell dies

Bebe Moore Campbell, a best-selling novelist known for her empathetic treatment of the difficult, intertwined and occasionally surprising relationship between the races, died yesterday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 56. The New York Times obit reports that her death resulted from complications of brain cancer. Campbell burst on the scene with YOUR BLUES AIN’T LIKE MINE (1992) which was inspired by the murder of Emmett Till, and followed it up with many more novels for adults (published by Putnam) and two for children (most recently 2006′s STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY.)

She is survived by her husband, Ellis Gordon Jr., whom she married in 1984; her mother, Doris Moore of Los Angeles; a daughter from her first marriage, Maia Campbell of Los Angeles; a stepson, Ellis Gordon III of Mitchellville, Md.; and two grandchildren.

Surviving the prodigy label

Seven years ago, Richard Mason wasn’t just anointed the Next Big Thing in British literary fiction – he was awash in attention, good and bad. No wonder, since he was only 19 years old and in his first year at Oxford, behaving as a proper overachieving Etonian is supposed to. And then THE DROWNING PEOPLE came out, the attention increased exponentially, and Mason was seemingly never heard from again.

Not exactly. He did write a second book, US, in 2004, and now that further time has elapsed, it looks as if the former wunderkind might settle into a long-standing career. The Bookseller reports that Wiedenfeld & Nicholson has signed Mason up to a two-book deal brokered by Patrick Walsh at Conville & Walsh, with the first, provisionally titled NUMBER 17, HUNTLEY GARDENS, due for release sometime in 2008. (No delivery date was given for the follow-up.) And with Mason due to be over thirty by the time the book’s out, perhaps the focus will stay on the novel and less on the hype.

Borders’ New Internet Strategy

When Borders decided to outsource its Internet book sales to Amazon, the move raised many eyebrows – after all, why hand over a potentially huge revenue source to someone else? So no wonder new CEO George Jones has announced that the company is developing a plan to distinguish Borders from larger rival Barnes & Noble, and is reviewing options for its Internet relationship with Amazon, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

“We need to differentiate ourselves so that a customer is willing to drive by our competitor’s stores for certain products we carry,” Jones said. “We want to focus on certain key categories where we will really stand out.” But Jones declined to be more specific about what categories would get primary focus. The plan will be unveiled in February or March, at which time more specific information will be revealed.