Following up on last week’s item about the multi-million dollar bids for Keith Richards‘ life story: Little, Brown announced this morning that it had acquired the autobiography, written in collaboration with James Fox, for publication in the fall of 2010. Publisher Michael Pietsch will edit the book personally, along with Alan Samson of fellow Hachette imprint Weidenfeld & Nicolson, which will publish the UK edition simultaneously. No word yet on whether the final cost actually rose to the $8 million Sarah predicted while the auction was still going on…
Archives: July 2007
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Publishers Marketplace reports this morning that Gary Gentel has been promoted to interim president of Houghton Mifflin‘s Trade and Reference Division, effective immediately. Gentel moves up from corporate vp, director of sales, a position he’s held the last four years. HM CEO Tony Lucki told employees today that “Gary will lead the division’s strategic direction with the support of the trade and reference management team, who will report directly to him. He will also be an instrumental part of planning the integration of Harcourt Trade with Houghton Mifflin Trade and Reference.”
Pamela Cannon will join the Random House Publishing Group as Editor at Large, Ballantine Books, specializing in acquiring and editing lifestyle books. Cannon’s hire is effective September 10 and she will report to Libby McGuire, Senior Vice President and Publisher, working from her office in Weston, Connecticut. Previously, Cannon ran her own literary services outpost and worked for Artisan, Pocket and Random House in a variety of publicity and editorial positions.
“I’m pretty pumped,” Nicholas Kulish (left) says over the phone Friday morning as he’s preparing to leave for Berlin, where he’ll be the new bureau chief for the New York Times. “This is the job I’ve always wanted, since back in college.” And, for Kulish, it’s a return to the city where he did much of the writing for his recently published Iraq war satire, Last One In, working off a Fulbright grant in the gap between leaving the Wall Street Journal and joining the Times as an editorial writer two years ago.
Kulish freely admits that his own experiences as an embedded journalist for the Journal during the invasion of Iraq weren’t much like those of his novel’s protagonist, a disgraced gossip reporter for a New York tabloid who’s sent to the frontlines because he happens to share the name of an incapacitated war correspondent. “Being with the helicopter squadron was really different,” he explains. “We flew in, we flew out. But I took tiny things from my experiences, and those of other journalists I worked with while I was there.” So far, the reponse has been positive—”I haven’t gotten any enraged emails yet”—and the novel recently went back for its fourth printing.
Once he reaches Berlin, Kulish won’t actually be spending much time in the city, as the Times gig bascially has him covering all over Eastern Europe down to the northern border of Greece. Not that he’s worried; in fact, he welcomes the travel: “Berlin is a city filled with young artistic people who don’t have to go to work,” he quips, “so I’m a little anxious about being the only person I know there with a 9-to-5 job.”
“I really loved the book business,” Mary South says as we sip our beers on the rooftop deck of Cabana yesterday afternoon, watching tourists line up along the dock at the South Street Seaport for a harbor cruise. “The job I had at Riverhead was the best job I ever had in publishing.” After helping the imprint launch in the mid-’90s, South took a detour into the dotcom industry, then came back to book editing for a stint at Rodale. “I like the Rodale family, and I admire the fact that they had a genuine sense of mission that was historic, going back to their beginning… It was a good company with good goals,” she reflects, “but it wasn’t a good fit for me.” In fact, the opening scenes of her memoir, The Cure for Anything Is Salt Water, detail how she reached her breaking point as an editor there, finally leaving the industry behind and buying a 30-ton trawler, which she then proceeded to navigate from its Florida berth back to New York. But it’s clear in the telling that the abrupt rebooting of her life wasn’t just about the job, but about everything else that was going on as she approached 40. “I’m always glad I took that job,” she emphasizes, “because it forced me to take the leap and have that adventure.”
We’ve met the day before she drives out to Sag Harbor with her girlfriend and two Jack Russell terriers to prepare her boat, Bossanova, for its latest voyage—a one-week journey along the New England coast, with stops at independent bookstores in Mystic, Edgartown, and Nantucket. As we talk, I discover that South had actually sold the proposal for her book before she took her boat out. “I always wanted to have the adventure,” she explains, “but then it occurred to me that there just had to be a book in here.” And, luckily, the advance helped cover some of the trip’s finances, as the process of selling her house and buying the trawler was pretty much “an even trade,” absorbing all her finances.
What was it like for her on the other side of the author/editor relationship? “I was a spoiled by my own experiences at Riverhead,” she admits, discussing her active involvement in every step of the publishing cycle for the books she acquired there, and her enthusiasm for creating the imprint’s paperback line even before they’d had their first hardcover frontlist. In contrast, she’s learned now what it’s like to be one project among the many on an editor’s agenda. “But I’m sure it’s difficult for any editor to deal with a former editor as an author,” she concedes. Is she ever tempted to get back into the game? “I can’t really see going back to being an editor,” she shakes her head. For now, she’s happily supporting herself with freelance writing and mulling over the proposal for her next book—which is also likely to be of a nautical nature.
Elizabeth Hayes worked on some small theater productions before she joined the publishing industry sixteen years ago, but she’s the first to admit that she’s hardly a seasoned show biz veteran. Nevertheless, after just six months as Scribner‘s publicity director, she’s leaving her job to work as a producer on Dancing With Shiva, the next Jonathan Demme film. She met the director through her role, back at Simon & Schuster, as the longtime publicist for Jimmy Carter, while Demme was making a documentary about the ex-president during the tour for Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
“Book publicity can be, visually speaking, painfully boring,” she recalls telling the film crew, but they ventured forth—and one day, as they were all crowded together in the back of a limo after an event, Demme—impressed by Hayes’ work orchestrating Carter’s itinerary—suggested that the two of them should work together again some time. She wrote it off as typical industry chatter, she says, “but darned if he didn’t do it,” asking her help in producing a film from a script by Jenny Lumet (Sidney’s daughter), to which Anne Hathaway has already been attached. “[Scribner publisher] Susan Moldow was so gracious about understanding my opportunity,” Hayes says. “It’s intimidating to start all over, but I would never have forgiven myself if I didn’t take this chance.”
Hayes’ replacement, Brian Belfiglio, comes to Scribner from the PR firm Hilsinger-Mendelson East, and has also run the publicity for three different imprints at Crown and served as marketing director for Workman. “That makes me feel a little bit better about giving this up,” Hayes admits, confident that she’s leaving the Scribner legacy in capable hands once she signs out Friday afternoon. And she doesn’t even have to go to Hollywood; Demme’s production offices are based in Nyack, allowing her to stay at home in Chelsea for most of the production cycle.
In a quiet corner of last weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, hidden under the glare of the blockbusters, the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers handed out their Scribe Awards for the best adaptations and licensed spin-off books linked to media properties. In other words, it was Christa Faust‘s novelization of Snakes on a Plane that won an award, not the movie itself. Marv Wolfman also won a prize for rendering Superman Returns into prose, which shouldn’t be too surprising since he was one of the comic book writers who rebooted the Man of Steel in the late 1980s and clearly knows the characters well. Alice Henderson took the YA award for her Buffy novel, while Stephen Niles and Jeff Mariotte won one of the spin-off categories for a novel set in the vampiric 30 Days of Night franchise; Mariotte grabbed another spin-off prize—solo this time—for Las Vegas: High Stakes. (Yes, there are novels set in the world of NBC’s Las Vegas; I didn’t know that, either.) And Donald Bain, the man who actually does the heavy lifting on all those Murder, She Wrote paperback mysteries “written by Jessica Fletcher,” received the Grandmaster title for helping keep that franchise alive more than a decade after the last original episode aired on CBS. (I know, I know, four TV-movies between 1997 and 2003; I was fortunate enough not to own a television for most of that period.)
Cleo (left) provided author Jennifer Niesslein with the inspiration to write Practically Perfect in Every Way, a memoir that tracks the results of following a whole lot of self-help advice. “She was diagnosed with liver disease, and it was my first day-to-day dealing with mortality,” Niesslein recalls. “As the cliché goes, it got me thinking about what sort of person I was, what I was doing with my own life, how I could make things better all around.” In the book, she describes the comfort she took in hearing Cleo’s nails clacking on the floor as she followed her around, “like the heels of a small, adoring secretary.” But, ultimately, “I think I mischaracterized–Cleo was really more of a taskmaster, barking orders.”
Mystery writer Clea Simon sent us a picture of her cat, Musetta, with no commentary beyond a simple “nuff said,” but I couldn’t resist tweaking the image just a bit. Simon is also the author of The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats, which leads us to an important point: If you’re wondering why we’re running all these cat/dog pictures—apart from the shameless bid for your affection—Da Capo publicity director Lissa Warren has a Huffington Post essay that explains it all.
Confessing her love for cat tomes, Warren points out that “book product” like The Little Grey Cat Book sells, and well. “I can’t say that they represent anything other than commerce,” she admits. “But there’s something about the honesty of them—the ‘we’re in it for profit’-ness of them—that I have to admire a bit.” Not to mention where that profit winds up being spent. “Want to buy a volume of poetry or a collection of short stories by a first-time author?” she asks. “Better hope that holiday sales of Catmas Carols were strong that year.”
The Bookseller reports that Trevor Dolby and Rosie de Courcy‘s new imprint at Random House UK has been named Preface Publishing. The announcement comes simultaneously with the launch of the imprint’s Spring 2008 list, comprising A POINT OF VIEW by Lisa Jardine and THE CLEANER by Brett Battles (a debut spy thriller published this month by Bantam Dell.) Dolby, formerly publisher at HarperCollins, joined Random House in April to set up Preface as a new list straddling non-fiction and fiction. “I am delighted that Preface has developed at such a fast pace since its inception in April,” he said. “It is very exciting to be able to formally name the imprint and give it a strong identity.” De Courcy joined the company as publishing director in March.
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