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Archives: March 2008

Manga Biz Book? Anime Trailer!

Animator Lindsey Testolin goes to town on Rob Ten Pas‘s manga-style artwork for The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, a new kind of career advice book from bestselling business author Daniel Pink:

Sounds to me like they got an actual movie trailer guy to do the voiceover—or at least a highly credible imitation of one.

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Two NYC Reading Series Launch in April

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As many GalleyCat readers know, I started Beatrice.com, one of the Internet’s first literary websites, back in 1995, and have kept it running ever since (sometimes, admittedly, not as frequently as I’d like). After 13 years of introducing readers to writers online, I’m excited to join forces with the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction to establish a new reading series aimed at bringing debut writers together with passionate, enthusiastic readers. Our first event is coming up on April 16, and it’s an all-debut night, featuring Ed Park (Personal Days) and Jane Kotapish (Salvage). Future readings will pair first-timers with established authors: Arthur Phillips and Paulina Porizkova will read on April 30, followed by Rivka Galchen and Cathleen Schine on May 14. If those work out, we may do a few summer events before mounting a full season in the fall.

Technically, St. Mark’s Bookshop‘s program of readings at Solas began last week, but they’re billing Thursday night’s event with A.M. Homes, Charles Bock, and Samantha Hunt as a second inaugural, so there you go. They’re booked through early June, and co-curator Greg Purcell tells me he’s got some fantastic writers lined up beyond that. Good thing we’re not running opposite each other, so I can go see some of those shows!

You’re Still Finding “Backside” Covers

Drea Thew says she didn’t have to look too hard for these three additions to our growing portfolio of “back of the head book jackets,” because when people on Amazon.com buy one, they seem to wind up buying at least one of the others as well…

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Jessica Cutler: “I’ve Been Through This Before”

alleged-cutler-headshot.jpgWhen the NY Post reported Friday morning that sex-blogger-turned-novelist Jessica Cutler was linked to the Wicked Models escort ring, Neal Ungerleider at FishbowlNY tracked down her alleged agency profile. In an email exchange Friday night, Cutler told me what she told the Post: While she knows Wicked’s proprietress, Kristin “Billie” Davis, her head had been Photoshopped onto pictures like the one above (cropped from the alleged original) . Though she came across as somewhat rattled by her experience with the press, she was doing her best to take the situation in stride. “I’ve been through this before,” she wrote, “and trust me, I would MUCH rather have everyone think I was an escort than be suspected of money laundering or something actually illegal.”

Cutler also had questions of her own about Davis’s attempt to shop a memoir, which purports to tell the story of how she ran an escort service “that grosses over $6 million per year, conducts business in five countries and works with famous models and clients.” A brief item announcing the project was posted to Publishers Marketplace shortly before the raid that led to her arrest. “So is there interest in the America’s Next Top Madam proposal?” Cutler asked, before emphasizing that she was totally uninvolved in the project, the timing of which she considers questionable: “At this point,” she observed, “a proposal would be treated as a written confession.”

(So, how about it, publishing insiders: Anybody care about this book proposal?)

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David Gross Revs Up for NYC Reading

david-gross-headshot.jpgPerhaps you remember an item I wrote last summer about memoirist David Gross‘s return to Manhattan during a summer lull in his job as the creative director at Ducati. Well, I hear he’s back in town again this week, and he’ll be reading from Fast Company at the motorcyle company’s SoHo showroom tomorrow night. As general manager Bill Shelton notes, “David has been credited with taking this classic motorcycle manufacturing company and redefining it as an iconic international design engine that churns out heavily branded products… that personify everything that is cool about motorcycles.” And the story of how he did it is pretty darn fun, so if you get a chance, go!

You’ve Spotted More “Back of the Head” Covers

After spotting Friday morning’s post about the shot-from-behind look in women’s fiction book jackets, an amused Kristy Kiernan passed along the cover art to her second novel, Matters of Faith, which comes out this summer…

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(Thanks also to Jessica Allen, Jeff Golick, Clayton Moore for spotting some more books—and for establishing this particular “trend” back to at least 2006…)

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GalleyCat‘s Big Media Weekend

Reporters sought out my commentary on two of last week’s most prominent book deals: I told the New York Times I was “shocked and amazed” by the $300,000 Stuff White People Like deal, while Boston Herald readers learned, in reference to Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick‘s $1.35 million signing, that “books are increasingly seen as the political equivalent of a marketing tool.”

One point I made sure to bring up in both conversations—because both journalists wanted to know how these particular proposals had generated such high bidding among publishers—was that the clarity of a nonfiction book proposal is critical to its successful reception among editors. I haven’t seen what Gov. Patrick and Christian Lander‘s agents sent to publishers, but the articles written about their book deals suggest that their “messages” are well laid-out; Gov. Patrick’s emphasis on “certain realizations and lessons about life” suggests a motivational component that would certainly be considered an attractive way to elevate his profile outside Massachusetts. Of course, platform doesn’t hurt either; the size of the audience Stuff White People Like amassed in just two months, and the promise of being able to deliver a book for publication by the end of the summer, was no doubt one of the main reasons Random House is, in Times reporter Allen Salkin‘s words, “willing to take a chance it will attract attention in the bookstore.”

After all, that’s exactly what drove publishers to take a chance on the I Can Has Cheezburger book and the Go Fug Yourself book, which I see the Times is still bashfully referring to as “a book based on a popular Web site focused on fashion disasters.” (And remember the Flying Spaghetti Monster?)

Scene @ Last Night’s Last Parties

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FSG editor Paul Elie offered a toast to debut novelist Fiona Maazel early into the party last night celebrating the publication of Last Last Chance—or, since Maazel (a mediabistro.com writing instructor) preferred to have the spotlight on books and writers in general, rather than her specifically. To that end, people were just as thrilled to speak with David Markson in his corner booth as they were to cheer on Maazel’s success, and when I introduced Charles Bock to Karen Abbott, his enthusiasm about wanting to read Sin in the Second City was vivid. Other authors who came to Bella’s for the event included Amanda Stern, Amy Hempel, Leigh Newman, Wesley Stace and Myla Goldberg.

Then I wandered up Lafayette a few blocks to catch Adam Mansbach reading from The Last of the Jews at McNally Robinson, and found myself standing next to Keith Gessen at one point before we were pushed apart by a bunch of people trying to get at the free He’Brew beer.

The Accompanied Literary Society’s Forward-Looking Party

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I just realized that I never got around to posting these pics from last Friday night’s Accompanied Literary Society party in the penthouse of the Forward Building, the original office of America’s leading Jewish newspaper. Hostess Brooke Geahan posed with Arnon Grunberg, shortly after he’d read a hilarious scene from his new novel, The Jewish Messiah. Watching from the audience were Victoria Redel—who had just read from her latest, The Border of Truth—flanked by fellow authors Porochista Khakpour and Donna Masini. Before, between, and after the readings a klezmer band kept things hopping, while literati like Zadie Smith, Barry Yourgrau, and David Margolick mingled in the wide open space (which is, I’m told, available for sale as a residential apartment, if you have a couple million lying around).

One More Look at Science Fiction Book Jackets

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The conversation sparked by my post about science fiction book covers took a few more turns across the blogosphere. Tor art director Irene Gallo offered a thoughtful perspective on reconciling her personal aesthetics with marketplace realities, describing her job as “[getting] books past book buyers.” (As she puts it, “If the books don’t make it into the stores in the first place, readers can’t buy them in the second place.”) On the other hand, she reflects, “the breadth of what is recognized as sf/f art today is so much more varied and vibrant than fifteen/twenty years ago,” as the three Tor covers above demonstrate.

“Cover art is explicitly commercial art,” John Scalzi elaborated. ” It’s designed first to convince shopkeepers that this book will move, and second to convince readers in a glance what the book is about and that it’s worth their time.” And if you’re writing a series, he adds, there’s a ‘third dimension” of visual consistency to respect as well.

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