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Posts Tagged ‘M.J. Rose’

The Book Club Hustle

kitchenboy2.jpgThrough the magic of the Internet, conference calls, and Skype, book clubs have found a whole new level of interaction with writers.

According to Book Beast, the trend has created some book club superstars: Joshua Henkin has spoken with 175 clubs about “Matrimony,” Adriana Trigiani has spoken with two or three clubs a week for years, and Laura Dave has already spoken with 100 groups for “The Divorce Party.” However, author M.J. Rose has some words of caution for book club bound writers.

Here’s more revealing intelligence from the article: “The first draft of Robert Alexander‘s ‘The Kitchen Boy,’ the first novel of his Romanov trilogy, was initially rejected for publication 15 times, at which point Alexander hired an outside editor. She told him to shoot for a book-club ‘gem’ to cut the manuscript from 460 pages to 250 and hone in on the historical fiction. Alexander did and got three offers in eight days. His Viking and Penguin contracts, he says, even state that his books should be around 250 pages.”

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The Jewish Book Network Puts Authors on Audition

One of the most common stories I heard throughout BEA came from authors who had survived one of the several evenings sponsored by the Jewish Book Network right before the trade show began. Almost American Idol-style, authors were asked to get up onstage, recite a two-minute speech about why Jewish Book Fairs and JCCs should invite them to their events, and wait for a judgment call to be awarded later. Nervewracking? Certainly. A story idea? Absolutely.

So it’s no wonder the NYTBR’s Rachel Donadio not only got to the idea first but sat in on one of those evenings, which featured a cavalcade of authors from M.J. Rose to Katharine Weber to Howard Jacobson and Charlotte Mendelson, two UK-based authors who’d flown in – on their own dime – to audition. None of these authors would have taken part if not for Carolyn Starman Hessel, director of the Jewish Book Network and in possession of an “uncanny ability” to get people excited about books and authors like Nathan Englander, Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer, whose early careers owed some debt to the Book Fair circuit.

For most authors, Donadio writes, the audition experience is ” somewhere between JDate and a camel auction,” said Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for The New Yorker who toured last year to promote PRISONERS his memoir about serving in the Israeli Army and befriending a Palestinian inmate. “Camels are very skittish, and so are writers. We don’t like having our teeth inspected. But if we’re going to sell, we know we have to have our teeth inspected.” His advice? “Do not follow the woman who just published a book on how all her children were murdered in Treblinka. It’s much preferable to follow a woman who has 100 halvah recipes.” Sound advice, to be sure.

The Return of the Literary Thriller

Of course, it’s debatable whether it ever really went away or if market forces dictated that it “disappear” and re-emerge a few years later, as many trends do. But the idea gives the WSJ’s Robert Hughes a peg to feature a couple of dozen thrillers (highlighting future releases by Daniel Silva, Barry Eisler, Martin Cruz Smith and Joseph Finder, among others) and explain why they are making a so-called comeback.

Behind the revival, Hughes writes, is the confluence of a world grown more scary and a sluggish, $24 billion publishing industry seeking a new formula for hits. There’s another factor: Hollywood’s movie machine is hungry for such books. “Thrillers will definitely be the next cycle” in Hollywood, says Howard Sanders, a partner in United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, Calif. Whatever that means. Of course, here comes the obligatory nitpick: all the thrillers Hughes & co. write about and they couldn’t find a single woman? Granted, thrillers of a certain variety are male-dominated for the moment, but it would have been nice to garnish some attention on say, R.J. Hillhouse‘s OUTSOURCED, M.J. Rose‘s THE REINCARNATIONIST or the recently released THE ACCIDENTAL AMERICAN by Alex Carr, which fits this bill more tightly than any of the titles on offer, male or female.

Scene @ Linda Fairstein’s Book Launch

fairsteintrio.jpgIf the trio on the left – Donna Hanover, Linda Fairstein and Mary Higgins Clark – isn’t indicative that former prosecutor-turned-bestselling crime writer Fairstein’s launch party at Montblanc for her newest crime novel, BAD BLOOD, was a cut above the usual fare, then the swarm of TV cameras (Extra and Fox, we were told) and Cindy Adams rushing up and down in boots that could only be described as Uggs on steroids might be the best sign that this event will merit more media attention than most GalleyCat-able book parties. The adoring crowd – which included Fairstein’s husband, Justin Feldman, FOX News anchor Rosanna Scotto and M.J. Rose) marveled at the store’s collection of luxury watches, jewelry and especially its pens – the last item especially dear to Fairstein’s heart. “I never leave the house without a Montblanc pen,” she remarked to the crowd after signing dozens of copies of her new novel.

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