Friday, September 21, 2007

Quote Of The Day

“On the surface we all get on brilliantly, but on a personal level we all fucking loathe each other...In my view what’s happening in publishing in the past few days is a catastrophe. Everyone is horribly excited.”

--the editorial director of one of England’s largest publishing houses, responding anonymously to the mass resignations at literary agency PFD
do tell,
the editor

Ask Slunchie

We here at Slunch (well, really, I) believe that the time has come to start our very own advice column for those of you looking for new ways to deal with your interoffice romances, intolerable bosses, flaky coworkers, insane authors, vampiric agents, and ineffective assistants... just to name a few. So please, email your questions to Slunchie c/o the editor at

I can't wait to tell you what I think ;)

do ask,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why I Love The Observer

Now, I know I've already written about James Frey, but when I saw the cartoon accompanying the New York Observer article , I couldn't resist one more mention. Yes, the article is great, informative, blah, blah, blah, but it's already been written about in the more respectable lit blogs, so I'll leave it alone. But this cartoon people! James Frey as Humpty Dumpty - cracked open and putting himself back together again with…money glue. Hilarious. And the caption - "Humped, Dumped, Pumped!" OMG, New York Observer. I heart you.



Excerpted from:
The Savvy Author’s Guide to Book Publicity (Carroll & Graf)
By Lissa Warren

A savvy author is going to have a lot of questions about the publicity for his or her book. Yet there are some questions that are notorious for riling publicists. I list a few below, and reasons to avoid them. I encourage you to think of them as the seven deadly sins.

“Have you tried Oprah? (or Larry King, Charlie Rose, Regis and Kelly, or Terry Gross)?” Publicists know that these people’s shows really sell books, and go for them before anything else if you and your book are even remotely appropriate. They’re already under a lot of pressure to get you on these programs. They won’t appreciate more.
“Could you overnight a copy to . . . ?” You’re asking your publicist to stop what she’s doing (perhaps preparing for a big marketing meeting where she’ll discuss your book) and send a copy by the costliest means possible. If it’s a major show or publication and they’ve expressed real and urgent interest, by all means ask for this. Otherwise, just e-mail the info to your publicist and ask her to mail the book or send it via UPS Ground as soon as possible.
“Anything new?” If there were, your publicist would have told you; we’re not shy about trumpeting success. Keep in mind that your publicist constantly hears this same question from her immediate supervisor, the publisher, the sales reps, the foreign rights department, the subrights department, and the editors. Then multiply the pestering by ten for the number of books she’s working on, in some capacity, on any given day.
“Did the host/reporter who just interviewed me even read the book?” Unfortunately, the answer is, probably not. But please don’t be offended. They may be even busier than your publicist. That’s why she sent them press material to crib from.
“Is (insert name of show or publication) going to do anything with my book?” Your publicist will do her best to get a “yes” or “no” from each media outlet about your book, but she isn’t always able to, and pushing the media for an answer when they haven’t responded to a galley, a finished book, two e-mails, a fax, and three voice mail messages isn’t going to help her reputation—or yours. Sometimes, no answer is an answer—if they were interested, they’d have called. Also keep in mind that when she does get a “no,” your publicist might not get a reason or the reason may be vague (“it’s just not right for our magazine,” or “the host wasn’t interested”). This is frustrating, but perfectly normal.
“Could you send a copy to my friend Mandy from high school? She knows Katie Couric’s assistant.” It’s nice that your friend knows Katie Couric’s assistant. However, your publicist probably knows Andrea Smith (Editors Note: This excerpt is from the 2004 edition, so I'm sure Lissa would like us to note that it's now Jackie Levin), the books producer at the Today Show(who has been on the list of publishing’s most powerful people) and the person there who is most likely to actually do something with your book—and chances are your publicist has sent your book to her. Remember, your publicist only has so many copies to send to the media. You don’t want her to waste one, and insisting that she send one to acquaintances of yours who have distant connections to the media is a sure way to do so. However, if you yourself have a direct connection to the media (e.g., your friend Mandy from high school is Katie Couric’s assistant—or better yet, your friend from high school is Katie Couric), then by all means ask your publicist
to send. She’ll be grateful.
“How many other books are you working on right now?” More than you want to know about. Trust me.

Keep those anonymous submissions coming. I don't think Publitron could have put it any better.

do tell,
the editor

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why Americans Don't Read

I'd like to thank Pillhead at Jezebel for this insight from their latest post Counting Sheep is for Suckers:

"I didn't ask my doctor for a sleep aid, he just offered me an Ambien prescription and I said, "Why not?" That night, I popped half and climbed into bed with a book. The next morning I woke up with the light still on and my head on the book -- I hadn't even made it through one page before sweet, sweet Ambien knocked me out. (This is why I have a theory that the decline in literacy rates and the rise of sleep aids are inextricably linked.)"

Sweet Ambien indeed... and, you don't get those pesky hangovers that come with drinking a bottle of vodka before bed.


Random Musings - brought to you by The New York Times

So, I was flipping through this coming Sunday's New York Times Book Review , and I noticed two things on interest.

One: a ginormous color ad for Nicholas Spark's new book, The Choice (Grand Central Publishing/September). Why is this interesting you may ask? Because I freaking love The Notebook, that's why. Not the book. Fuck that. THE MOVIE . Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams…the scene in the rain…"It wasn't over. It still isn't!"…sigh. Amazing. And I want another movie that I can love and rewatch as much as that. A Walk to Remember sucked - although Shane West was quite the hottie in it. What was the other one? That bottle one with the Princess Bride (aka Sean Penn's wife) and Kevin Costner? I think that was based on a Sparks book. Whatever. It sucked too. So, I will pin my hopes on The Choice. I have no idea what it's about, I haven't read it, I won't read it, but I will cross my little fingers that some wonderful screen writer will be able to transform it into another The Notebook. And if Ryan Gosling could star too, that would help.

Two: the new bestseller format is in effect. I don't know why, but I find the switch fascinating. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great idea - trade paperbacks are kind of the middle ground between hardcover and mass market (price and kind of quality wise too), and if you're going to separate hardcover and paperback, you might as well separate trade and mass. Fair enough. Good idea, Mr. Tanenhaus. Also, there are more books on the paperback and advice/how-to lists now. Awesome for all those writers who could never quite get up off the extended list (which really doesn't have the same ring). But here's what cracks me up - no one's actually buying that the Times cares about having "a list that corresponds closely to what we review in the section and what we gauge our readers are interested in." Nope, everyone in the biz knows it's about the money. As one insider put it "It's completely ad driven. People want to buy a position next to the list." And, as Crain's points out (you may have noticed that I'm basically stealing their article), people are going to be more likely to buy ads in the New York Times if they can actually say their books are bestsellers. Pure genius. Those book reviewers are so friggin' clever. No wonder they look down on bloggers so much. I mean, no one's scrambling to buy ads here. Hmm, maybe we should start a Slunch Bestseller list. Time for a meeting with my editor...


Blind Item

What mega-bestselling thriller writer has grown tired of receiving pretentiously negative reviews from Kirkus that they have banned the trade rag from ever receiving one of the author’s galleys?
Keep those tips coming!
do tell,
the editor

Collaborators in Publishing, Love

It seems that Houghton Mifflin and Soho Press have more in common than The Collaborator of Bethlehem (Houghton bought the paperback rights for Matt Beynon Rees's debut novel). Rumor has it that romance has blossomed between two publicity staffers as well.

-Paige Sexie

UPDATE: Galleycat has just outed our blind item with names and photos.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Proust on the Luce

Could it be that Steve Carell's role as the foremost Proust scholar in the United States in Little Miss Sunshine has helped bring Proust back into the mainstream? This fall sees two titles: Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by professor of child development at Tufts University, Maryanne Wolf (Harper/Sept), and Proust was a Neuroscientist by Seed Magazine's editor at large, Jonah Lehrer (Houghton/Nov).
While Wolf takes the approach of relating the evolution of reading and its effects on the brain, Lehrer's angle is to illustrate where art and science converge and how art-- whether it be culinary, painting, or writing--predicted scientific breakthroughs.
So where does Proust fit in? In Proust and the Squid "Wolf takes the reader from the brains of a pre-literate Homer to a literacy-ambivalent Plato, from an infant listening to Goodnight Moon to an expert reader of Proust..." Whereas in Proust was a Neuroscientist, one chapter is dedicated to how the prolific revisionist unlocked the mysteries of memory.
Looks like Luce clipping service will be hard pressed to pay attention when sending out the clips.
-Jonathan P. Highbrow, Esq.