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Archives: September 2007

The Miranda July Backlash Has Begun

miranda-july-award.jpgJust a few days ago, Miranda July won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for her debut collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You. Now, Vancouver Voice columnist DK Holm is second-guessing July’s selection, arguing that “the current darling of the Eastern cultural elites” may have gotten the prize because Rick Moody was on the jury.

It’s a well-established element of the July legend that Moody encouraged her efforts at fiction; hell, the Village Voice profile Holm quotes as evidence of July’s iconic status among the Yankee bluebloods includes laudatory remarks to the reporter from him. (“She just does what she does, and as a result she’s a complete original.”) And then there’s the fact that earlier this year July starred in a Moody-scripted audio drama. And, much as I’d like to consider myself the GalleyCat regime that Moody doesn’t need to resent, you gotta admit: It all looks kinda hinky, no matter how good the stories are.

Asian American Writers’ Workshop Names 2007 Literary Award Winners

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The 10th annual Asian American Literary Awards have been presented to, from left to right, poet Linh Dinh (Borderless Bodies), short story writer Samrat Upadhyay, and essayist Amitav Ghosh. (Good show, Houghton Mifflin, which publishes both Upadhyay and Ghosh.) The three authors will formally receive their prizes at a ceremony hosted by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in late November.

Enabling Authors to Improve Their Catalog Listings

Jury duty has kept me from surfing the web as much as I would normally, so it wasn’t until last night that I was able to spend any substantial time with Avon‘s new AuthorAssistant site, much of which then turned out to only be available to registered users, and since I’m not a HarperCollins author, that leaves me out. (Which is a shame, because I would’ve liked to have had a look at the blog from Avon publisher Liate Stehlik.) But the author home pages I could access, like the one for Kim Harrison, seem pretty spiffy: the basic framework of, say, MySpace, without all the friends, which enables a much crisper, cleaner layout.

But is it enough? Seth Godin has some serious objections, especially when it comes to publishers being the source point for author home pages. “Few readers know which authors are published by which publishers, so there’s no way they’re going to visit a particular site,” he writes. Furthermore, “authors aren’t going to spend the time to build (and maintain) fancy pages… [and] because publishers have (legal/sales) trouble picking one bookseller over another, it’s really hard to close the sale and sell the book.” There are exceptions, I think: Genre fans are more likely than your average reader of literary fiction to be aware of publishers, which could make a publisher-centered directory useful, but at the same time, author resistance to “fancy pages” is steadily crumbling. Take, for example, another Avon author participating in the new program: What makes Sophia Nabb‘s HarperCollins home page more useful to a fan, or a potential fan, than the pre-existing home page with a domain name keyed to her identity?

But on one key issue Godin is absolutely correct: “Authors are brands. Some are billion-dollar brands, some are tiny ones. The web is custom made for authors, but so far, it’s largely going unused.” The question is, who’s going to take charge of establishing those brands: the authors, the publishers, or both? Avon’s move is, at the very least, a significant step in terms of publishers giving authors the tools to promote themselves. Now they just have to unspool the apron strings even further…

(Ultimately, it should be noted, Godin’s post is aimed at directing people to his new SquidWho system, a variant form of his Squidoo startup, which enables people to build “fanpages” for people they like, or even themselves.)

Incoming S&S CEO Assembles Her Team

Carolyn Reidy, the CEO-designate at Simon & Schuster, announced two executive appointments yesterday afternoon. First, Michael Selleck, the current senior vice president for sales and marketing in the S&S adult division, has been promoted to executive vice president for sales and marketing for the entire publishing company. The newly created position gives him oversight over the entire sales division, including the international branches, as well as key market stategy responsibilities.

Reidy also created a new executive vice president’s position for Dennis Eulau, who will now be in charge of operations for the entire company. Before the promotion, Eulau was the senior vice president and general manager for the adult publishing division.

It’s a Dirty Job, But…

sage-vivant.jpgHere’s a fun (albeit rather NSFW) variation on an author blog: For the last decade, Sage Vivant (left) has been writing personalized erotic stories for clients as Custom Erotica Source. At the Amalgamated Erotica Corp. blog, however, she pretends that there’s a whole factory-like operation behind the stories, introducing readers to the “staff”—most of whom are, in real life, erotica writers themselves (and have, in some cases, developed content for CES). Remember: This is a blog for an erotic story development company, so if you follow the link, don’t blame me if any of the content shocks or scandalizes you.

This Is Not Your Father’s Super Friends

justiceleague-alexross2.jpgA quick update on last week’s post about the greenlight for the live-action Justice League movie: the UGO movie blogger Patrick Sauriol claims to have been told about the script, revealing a lineup for the superhero team that closely mirrors the first season of the recent animated series developed for Cartoon Network. Fellow movie blogger Robert Sanchez of IESB.net confirms Sauriol’s revelations, which means that the plot will have strong similarities to a story arc from the JLA comic in which a database containing information on the world’s mightiest heroes—including their secret identities and weaknesses—will fall into the wrong hands.

“Of course, since this movie is scheduled for a 2010 release, this could all be crap,” observes Sami Ali of Newsarama. “There is plenty of time for a rewrite and I’m sure a lot will be changed around.” And, to add to my totally irrelevant obsession with what the movie poster will look like, Ali has another Alex Ross painting of the League, one that looks like an excellent template for an eventual one-sheet.

Another Attempt to Peer into Oprah’s Mind

After yesterday’s nod towards Love in the Time of Cholera as the next likely pick for the Oprah book club, another GalleyCat reader chimed in with an alternative 368-page Vintage paperback that costs $14.95: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

Personally, I think Garcia Marquez is a more likely candidate, but we all know my track record in this category.

Unbridled Turns BookSense Pick into Six-Figure PB Deal

I’ve just gotten word that Unbridled Books has sold the paperback rights to one of its big fall titles, Margaret Cezair-Thompson‘s The Pirate’s Daughter, to Random House in “a significant six-figure deal.” The novel, October’s #1 BookSense pick, tells the story of a fictional illegitimate daughter of Errol Flynn, the result of a fling with a Jamaican teenager. Cezair-Thompson, a professor of literature and creative writing at Wellesley, was previously nominated for the Dublin International IMPAC Award in 2001 for her novel The True History of Paradise.

Promotional Appearances, Real and Virtual

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At left, authors Saidiya Hartman and Tina McElroy Ansa share a quiet moment during last weekend’s Up South International Book Festival in Harlem. Right: M.J. Rose logged onto Second Life yesterday afternoon for a virtual reading from The Reincarnationist. Rose reports via email that about 30 people came to see her avatar (“me, about twenty years younger,” she jokes) and listen to an excerpt from the audiobook.

mediabistro.com Parses Book Biz Insider Info

Next Tuesday night, one of mediabistro.com’s most popular course instructors, Susan Shapiro* will moderate a panel on “The Secrets Behind Book Publishing” that features Amistad editorial director Dawn Davis, Knopf/Pantheon editor Deborah Garrison, recently retired Random House editor Dan Menaker, literary agents Gail Hochman and Henry Dunow, and NYT Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus. According to the press release, you can “find out the most common mistakes new authors make; how many pages you need to approach an agent; if it ever makes sense to go directly to editors or to self-publish; what determines the advance, buzz, and publicity campaign behind a book; and what you can do to enhance book sales, good publicity and positive reviews.” It costs $30 to attend, but absolute beginners in the book writing racket might want to give it a whirl to see what they can pick up.

*Yep, the one with the book party tonight.

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