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Archives: March 2008

UnBeige: Eggers Takes on the Art World

apexart.jpgStephanie Murg of UnBeige, mediabistro.com’s design blog, previews “Lots of Things Like This,” the Dave Eggers-curated art exhibition opening at downtown Manhattan’s apexartgallery next week, which is probably the only show that will ever feature drawings by Robert Crumb, Leonard Cohen, and David Mamet—not to mention the Tucker Nichols piece that gives the exhibition its title. Among the questions Eggers asked himself as he and his colleagues were building the collection: “Is humor allowed in art, and in what forms? Are captions allowed in art, and why?”

This Is Why We Have Fake Editors

“[Fake editors] are most definitely not an urban legend,” a freelance editor emailed me yesterday. “A company that I worked at in the ’90s not only sent out rejection letters under a fake editor’s name, but this fake editor also had a voicemail box and an e-mail address. I would bet this still happens. Most rejected authors are gracious, but those that aren’t can be horrifying.”

And how: The pseudonmyous “Moonrat,” an editor here in New York, writes on her blog that an aspiring author has turned into a stalker. The guy shows up unannounced at her company and drops off his unsolicited manuscript after waiting more than half an hour for her, then calls her assistant the next day wondering if there was any feedback yet. “Now he has somehow learned my direct line,” she reports. “I have had 3 (three) long phone messages from him today about his book and how it’s going to change the world.” (Via Maud.)

The New Trend in Women’s Fiction Covers

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Passing the time in an airport Borders, Jen Miller spotted a new trend in the book jackets for mainstream women’s fiction. (And it’s spreading: As Miller observes, John Grisham‘s latest novel has men in the exact same pose. Well, without the hair flip, anyway.)

Any more examples I should know about? Be sure to let me know!

This Fake Editor Story Is No Bull

clipart-ceramic-bull.jpgThis morning’s item about rejection letters sent out under false names sparked another recollection about the way things used to work in publishing. Colleen Lindsay, an agent with Fine Print Literary Management, recalls an episode from her years on the other side of the fence:

“Long ago, when Lester and Judy Lynn Del Rey were still heading up Del Rey Books, they had several small ceramic bulls that were named after various popes. One of the ceramic bulls was named Urban. Urban Del Rey. Now, frequently, when Lester and Judy’s staff and assistants rejected manuscripts or queries, they used the name Urban Del Rey as a signature. In several of the leading writers guides of the time, Urban del Rey was actually listed as an acquiring editor. And even when I was still working there a couple of years ago, we would occasionally receive slush addressed to Mr. Urban Del Rey. It always made us smile.”

Oh, wait: papal bulls. Now I get it! Lindsay adds that, as far as she knows, “the bulls have gone off to live with various and sundry long-time Ballantine employees.” And, no, they probably didn’t much look like the picture above, but I work with what I’ve got!

Collins Stockpiling of Executive Editors Continues

When Collins hired Adam Bellowas an executive editor two weeks ago, one of my first, private reactions was that if the hiring of Nancy Miller had been announced on January 24, and that of Gillian Blake on February 27, Bellow’s arrival to the Collins executive editor squad had come two weeks early.

Apparently somebody there read my mind, because Collins just sent out a memo about Caroline Sutton becoming its fourth new executive editor for 2008. She’ll take over the “Lifestyle/Wellness” imprint on April 14; her track record as an executive editor at Ballantine includes books by Deborah Tannen, Nicholas Perricone, Dean Ornish, and Sylvia Boorstein. “Caroline has an extraordinary talent for acquiring and editing books that inform, improve, and generally change lives for the better,” Mary Ellen O’Neill, the imprint’s publisher, tells HarperCollins colleagues in her memo. “I’m looking forward to seeing her continue that publishing tradition here at Collins, both in the industry and among her new colleagues.”

What’s With the John Hughes Nostalgia?

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First NPR reprints Adrian Tomine‘s “The Donger and Me“, a strip about the cartoonist’s resentment of the gross stereotypes perpetuated by the character of Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles and now, in a promotional video for her new novel, She Went All the Way, Meg Cabot breaks out her doll collection to re-enact a favorite scene from Pretty in Pink. Maybe I need to reconsider whether it’s too early to do that coffee table book on ’80s Hollywood…

(panels rearranged and made safe for work from Tomine’s strip)

Apparently, Fake Editors Aren’t an Urban Legend

clipart-rejection-stamp.jpgYesterday afternoon, I briefly ran an item based on a tip from a reader who was convinced that he’d gotten a rejection letter from a non-existent editor—and a very badly written one at that. Shortly after the item was published, other readers figured out who the (very real) person might be, and since the name was close enough to the barely legible scrawl on the copy of the letter I’d received, I pulled the item off the homepage, because a sloppily written letter on Big Publisher letterhead didn’t seem like much of a story if there was actually somebody responsible for sending it out.

But, one reader assures me, sending out rejection letters under false names, in the hopes of avoiding long, tiresome correspondence with would-be writers, really has happened—at at least one company. “I worked at a publishing house which used a ‘fake’ contact for slush submissions and rejections,” this woman emails. “The name used was the maiden name of the deceased mother of one of the editors.” (As far as she knows, though, the practice was discontinued a while back, and unsolicited manuscripts are simply directed to unnamed category editors.)

I’ll Be Speaking at the Ann Arbor Book Festival

annarbor-bookfestival.jpgI’m happy to announce that I’ll be one of several guest speakers at this year’s Ann Arbor Book Festival Writer’s Conference on Friday, May 16. It’s an all-day sequence of workshops that includes sessions on creative nonfiction writing with Ken Foster, memoir writing with Jane Bernstein, and novel plotting with Maureen Freely (who’s also Orhan Pamuk‘s translator). I’ll be talking about “blogging for the serious writer” with Claudia Mair Burney, whose books include Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man, its sequel Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz, and the perfectly titled The Exorsistah. The conference has a $100 registration fee, but the street festival on Saturday is free, and that features appearances by Lisa Tucker, Daniel Radosh, Nicholas Delbanco, and NEA blogger David Kipen, among many others.

How’s Book Publishing Handling the Election?

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GalleyCat‘s Amanda ReCupido swung by NYU’s Center for Publishing for a panel on “Publishing and the Election: the Books, the Blogs, and the Bold New Media Tactics” that brought together Newsweek‘s Jonathan Alter, Time.com’s Ana Marie Cox, and Simon & Schuster‘s David Rosenthal for a lively discussion that covered everything from Obama-bias to the influence of the resurging Saturday Night Live. “Publishing really shapes this election,” said moderator Jacob Weisberg.”This is the most interesting campaign, not only as a civilian, but as a journalist. There have been huge shifts in the media landscape.”

“One of those shifts,” ReCupido reports, “includes the ever-increasing importance of the internet and blogs (what a very meta observation) in an environment where anybody and their mother (if their mothers have internet capabilities beyond forwarding inspirational chain emails) can post their thoughts on the candidates and provoke discussion that the national media may not find in their journalistic interest to cover. As Weisberg noted, ‘On the internet, stories are incubated in the absence of news;’ indeed the conversation often continues in the lack of further developments.

“Furthermore, Alter distinguishes the advent of YouTube to be the largest change of all to the political scene. ‘It has both caused some problems and addressed some issues,’ he said, citing both the ‘macaca’ video and Obama’s most recent speech on race as fitting examples for each scenario. Even so, he reminds us that the tactics of our current media are nothing new: ‘Thomas Paine was a blogger,’ he said, mentioning the popularity and influence of his pamphlets. There was another writer, he said, who broke the news of Jefferson’s affairs with his slaves during his presidential campaign. As it turns out, media coverage of politicians’ sexual philandering did not just begin in the 90s.

Read more

So What Do You Do, Dominick Dunne?

Diane Clehane, mediabistro.com’s “Lunch at Michael’s” columnist, chats with Dominick Dunne about his multi-platform media career—and now that he’s finished writing about the inquest into Princess Diana’s death for Vanity Fair, he’s dedicating himself to finishing his latest (and possibly last) novel, A Solo Act. “I’m more than half-way through,” he reports. “But I haven’t actually worked on it for a long time. Now I’m back on it full-time—that’s my life now until I finish… I think it’s going to take me a couple months of solid work.”

Dunne also describes his role in writing the afterword to If I Did It:

“I did it for the Goldmans. I never read the book,” he explains. “When [Fred Goldman] asked me, I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t turn him down. I said to him, ‘I’m not going to read the book. What I will write about is my relationship with you and your wife and your daughter.’ That’s what I did.”

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