Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Bestseller no one wanted

One of those fascinating author stories. Except from WSJ piece:

The U.S. release of "Sarah's Key" marks the end of a tumultuous decade for Ms. de Rosnay, 49. She finished the book in 2002, only to see it rejected by more than 20 publishers, partly because of its dark historical context: the 1942 Vélodrome d'Hiver roundup, in which French police arrested 10,000 Parisian Jews, including 4,000 children, and detained them for days in an indoor arena before deporting them to Auschwitz.

"Sarah's Key" centers on Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in modern-day Paris, who discovers that her French husband's family—and the apartment they live in—are linked to a Jewish family deported in the roundup. Jarmond, played in the film by Ms. Scott Thomas, becomes obsessed with finding a woman named Sarah, whom she believes escaped from a camp on a mission to save her little brother, Michel.
Ms. de Rosnay eventually gave up on getting "Sarah's Key" published. "I couldn't face another rejection," she says. She wrote two more novels, which sold about 2,000 copies each "if it was a good year" she said.
Then Ms. de Rosnay had lunch with Héloïse d'Ormesson, whom she had profiled in French Elle in 2005 when Ms. d'Ormesson started an independent publishing house in Paris. Ms. d'Ormesson's boyfriend and business partner, Gilles Cohen-Solal showed up unexpectedly. Mr. Cohen-Solal, whom Ms. d'Ormesson describes as un ours mal léché—a gruff bear—peppered Ms. de Rosnay with questions about her background and work. Ms. de Rosnay, who is half-English and half-French, was irritated. "I wrote a book about the Vel' d'Hiv," she said. "And nobody's interested."
Mr. Cohen-Solal was interested. Two weeks later, he and Ms. d'Ormesson agreed to publish "Sarah's Key" in France. It went on to sell more than five million copies and has been released in 38 countries. Four of Ms. de Rosnay's other books are now being made into movies.
For more, go here: 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

BEA DIY report

Rick Spilman posted a nice review of the BEA DIY meeting. Here's an excerpt, followed by the link:

The Saturday "DIY" seminars preceded the Book America Expo, a week-long event beginning Monday in Manhattan. I suspect our little seminar was called "DIY" because the phrase "self publish" can't be popular with the mainstream publishers who are the main BEA sponsors. So while the crews set up for the big show, we "DIYers" attended our seminar in the far lower corner of the Javits Convention Center on the banks of the Hudson River. 

The morning began with a keynote address by veteran industry insider, Alan Rinzler, who spoke on "Why the DIY Revolution has Made it the Best Time Ever to be a Writer." He said that traditional book marketing no longer works. Book tours are expensive and ineffective. Books reviews in newspapers and magazines have largely disappeared. What does sell books these days is "buzz," which is to say word of mouth, which is largely spread by social networking. Increasingly, traditional publishers are requiring their authors to do their own marketing through websites, blogs and social networking. Authors are becoming the key players in selling their books, which is resulting in a shift in the balance of power between authors and publishers. Authors are now dealing directly with their readers, essentially cutting out the publishing intermediary. Self published authors are also receiving higher royalties rather than being happy to let the publishers take their 90% cut.

The flip side to this is that self published authors have to put out high quality professional work to succeed. He suggested that the claim that self-publishing is "easy" is a myth. It is as hard or harder as traditional publishing. Rinzler highly recommended hiring a developmental editor to help shape a writers manuscript. He mentioned Hemingway's editor, Max Perkins and half a dozen other notable writers who use editors, and so on. Rinzler also happens to be a free lance editor who handed out his cards at the end of his talk. Overall it was a fascinating talk.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

John Steinbeck's advice for writers

John Steinbeck wrote a famous letter about writing. Here's an excerpt and a link to the whole letter.

 If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.

Web page fun

I've had so many web pages for various purposes that I'm consolidating everything. Be sure to follow me on twitter.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Personalized responses

I've been inundated with fan mail so I apologize in advance for not answering everyone individually. But if you really, really want a personalized response, just post your email here for everyone to see and I'll reply.