Thursday, August 30, 2007

O.J. and Me

I think he did it.

I don't want to read how some writer thinks he did it.

I don't care.

It makes no difference to me whether the money from this book goes to the Goldmans or O.J. It's still a despicable book, albeit one that certainly has the right to be published.

I just don't think there's a need for it to be published. I find it really hard to believe that there are more than a thousand people world-wide who want to read this book.

I thought it would be like Jayson Blair's BURNING DOWN MY MASTER'S HOUSE: My Personal Descent into Madness that Shook the New York Times. I think this sold 1200 copies, all of which were purchased by employees of the Times.

Who will be buying the O.J. book?

Fred Rosen on Star Jones

I know it's last minute and you probably won't catch this, but my client, Fred Rosen, is going to be on Star Jones' Court TV show today at 3:00 to talk about THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD..., his book on the survivors of infamous serial killers. They're flying in one of his victims to be on the show.

I would have been there with him, but today is my son's 15th birthday, so one must make choices.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rant alert

I am back from a week in Maine where I rent a cabin six steps away from the ocean. This year I brought both a Blackberry and my laptop with wi-fi and still there was no phone or Internet service, so I was forced to relax.

I did go into town twice to access my email from the pubic library, where I had more than 500 messages (and only about a fifth were for penis enlargement and transfer of funds from Nigeria). Part of the reason for the deluge was that my colleague, Jenny Rappaport, was getting married on August 19th and I had insisted that she take the week of the wedding and the two weeks following (when she will be on her honeymoon) off. She told her clients to get in touch with me if there was a crisis (in publishing in August - spare me!) and you can't imagine how may imaginary crisis emails I received. One of her clients was concerned that Jenny had said she would give her feedback on her next book (four already sold) and since Jenny was taking these three weeks off, Jenny would not get back to the author in time for her self-imposed deadline of beginning work on the next novel by September 1st. Jenny had said she would get back to her by Labor Day. What did she think I was going to do? Tell Jenny to read the book on her honeymoon? Please!!!!

It made me remember that when I was in labor (I had decided to have natural childbirth, so I was in labor for 3 days) one of my then-clients had called to ask when I was going to send out his $50 royalty check and when I explained that I was in active labor, he said "so what." Needless to say that was the last time we spoke and he is no longer my client.

Another client complained about her ex-agent whose wife was diagnosed and with breast cancer and underwent a double mascectomy. He was suddenly unable to move her to the top of his list. She was miffed that he didn't take the time to call and explain why he couldn't do what she expected him to do. Wasn't it obvious that he was having a crisis?

Agents and authors should work with each other for long periods of time, as your agent is your writing career manager. You are a team and she is your partner. There are times in everyone's life - agents are people too - when you should be given permission to slow down. Birth, death, marriage, illness, divorce are just a few that come to mind. I can't tell you the number of times I have had to call editors on clients behalf and explain that a deadline would be missed due to these circumstances and I have always received the common courtesy of understanding and extension of the deadlines. It always amazes me that some writers don't automatically extend that same courtesy to their agents.

Friday, August 10, 2007

That Old $3.7 Million Apocalyptic Vampire Trilogy Deal

In case you've been on the moon, I've inserted the New York Magazine article about the literary author who just sold his apocalyptic vampire trilogy for $3.7 million (sold the film rights for another $1.5 million too) at the end of my post.

It's taken me a while to collect my thoughts on this deal because (to be really honest) my initial reaction is why this guy and not one of my clients? I've sold more than 200 vampire novels in my career, how could this non-genre lit professor get so much when you know apocalyptic vampire novels are as old the threat of the modern nuclear apocalypse? Let's face it, Matheson's I AM LEGEND and McCammon's THEY THIRST are both apocalyptic vampire novels, but we know neither one of them got anything like $3.7 million.

OK. Then I read about the author and I remind myself that when one of my clients calls or emails raging that some other author got $1 million for the same idea as s/he had, I remind her/him that you can't copyright an idea and it's all in the execution.

And I remind myself that this author probably was toiling in the low paying lit fic genre (it is a genre) where you can't sell more than 5000 hardcover copies to save your grandmother's life, so what's so bad about him getting lucky and hitting one out of the ballpark? It doesn't take away from any of my clients. It just adds more attention to the niche within the genre that I love.

But the timing was right for this too. I should have had all my brilliant horror authors working on a post-apocalyptic vampire novel.

But it's an archetype of fear. We, as Americans, are always transfixed by the fear of being wiped out (in this case by an anti-aging virus that turns the populace into vampires) and the undead.

So, my advice to all of you is re-work the genre. There's marrow in those old bones.

Try a post-apocalyptic YA novel.

Or an apocalyptic zombie novel.

Has anyone every written an apocalyptic vampire/zombie novel? (where only some of the undead become vampires ,and those that don't become zombies and they all feed on humans?)

What if the only survivors of an apocalypse were ghosts?

Look at the other archetypes of horror.

The Frankenstein mythos
Dorian Gray
Jekyll & Hyde

They can all be updated, combined and reinterpreted. It's time.

Anyway, the moral of this story is to use this as an inspiration/challenge and not to think of it as someone else getting a slice of the pie that should have been your's.

There's more than enough pie to go around, and they're always baking new pies!

Ballantine Pays $3.75 Million for a Literary Novelist's Vampire Trilogy?
Justin Cronin, a.k.a. Jordan Ainsley
Courtesy of Random House
Last week, we hear, agent Ellen Levine at Trident Media closed a deal for a postapocalyptic vampire trilogy with editor Mark Tavani at Ballantine. Now, if we reported on every postapocalyptic vampire trilogy out there, we'd never have time to write anything else. But this postapocalyptic vampire trilogy sold, we hear, for a whopping $3.75 million for North American rights. Impressively, the deal was made off a 400-page partial manuscript. And even more impressively — given how cynical most of the people we know in the book world are — everyone seems to really like the book.

"Usually I hate this stuff, and I love it!" we hear one scout told her colleagues. Another publishing insider gushed to us, "It is totally awesome," while a third suggested that comparisons to Michael Crichton and Stephen King were appropriate, given the likelihood of this book being "a big best-seller." Who's the writer? Jordan Ainsley is the name on the manuscript, but we've been told that's a pseudonym for Justin Cronin, a literary novelist whose book of stories Mary and O'Neil won the Pen/Hemingway Award.

The story, set in 2016, revolves around a U.S. government project gone awry that affects a group of experimental subjects — condemned inmates plucked from death row — turning them into highly infectious vampires. Meanwhile, an orphan named Amy discovers that she has unusual powers, seemingly related to the crisis that quickly overtakes civilized society. It's pretty dark, though not completely without humor — the governor of Texas in 2016, for example, is Jenna Bush.

Now eyes turn toward Hollywood, where CAA is representing the book for film. Will it sell? One source is worried about the glut of similar material out there: postapocalyptic projects like World War Z, vampire projects like The Historian, postapocalyptic vampire projects like I Am Legend. Another source in the film world agrees but thinks it may not matter. "Everyone is tentative, because everyone has a nominally competing project," he told us. "But it's good, it sold for big money, and it's about vampires. Vampires are perennials."