Published in 2006, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne became a worldwide publishing hit. Nearly seven years later, there are 25 million copies in print, in 50 different languages. Byrne followed up with two more bestsellers—The Power in 2010 and The Magic in 2012—and today her publisher, Atria Books, announced that her next book, Hero, will be coming out on November 19.
According to the press release, "Hero brings together the wisdom and insight of twelve of the most successful people living in the world today. By following their seemingly impossible journeys to success, Hero reveals that each of us was born with everything we need to live our greatest dream—and that by doing so we will fulfill our mission and literally change the world."
What do you think? Will you be adding Hero to your TBR list?
Forthcoming books are announced every day, but this week, there have been two big announcements that have us buzzing with anticipation—so of course we wanted to share the news with you!
First up is The Maramon Convention (Scribner), the forthcoming second novel from award-winning writer Abraham Verghese, whose Cutting for Stone was one of our Readers' Choice: Best Books of 2009. Set in Kerala, India, during the 1940s, The Maramon Convention follows "the life of a precocious girl who escapes her town in southern India to become a pioneering physician in spinal surgery." According to the announcement, the novel will be "another epic story, imbued with medicine, family, and matters of faith, imagining one person's resolve to make the crooked straight." No word yet on when the book will be published, but we'll keep you posted.
Next up is The Library Book (Simon & Schuster), from Susan Orlean, staff writer for The New Yorker and whose most recent book, Rin Tin Tin, was one of our Best Books of 2011. The Library Book is described as a "love letter to an endangered institution, exploring their history, their people, their meaning, and their future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world, told through the lens of the author's quest to solve a crime that has gone unsolved since it was carried out in 1986: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying 400,000 books, and why?" Again, no word on the publication date, but we'll let you know as soon as we hear.
What do you think, readers? Which of these forthcoming books are you most looking forward to reading? Or is that an impossible question?
We love when writers and critics get along! Last night, at a NYC ceremony packed with writers, literary critics and other publishing folk, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) announced the winners of their 2012 book awards.
Among the distinguished recipients is Ben Fountain, with whom we were thrilled to share a table at last year's Author in the Round dinner, part of the Southern Festival of Books. Fountain's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk—one of our Best Books of 2012—won in the fiction category.
Here's a complete list of the winners:
Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Scribner)
Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies (Blue Rider Press)
D. A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf Press)
Marina Warner, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights (Belknap Press: Harvard University Press)
What do you think of the winners? How many of them have you read, and which ones will you be adding to your list of books to read?
Fans of The Kite Runner (and there are millions of them) will be excited to hear that author Khaled Hosseini will return in the spring with his first new novel in six years.
Though publishing company offices were closed throughout New York in advance of Hurricane Sandy, Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin, managed to spread the word this morning that Hosseini's next novel, And the Mountains Echo, will be published on May 21.
“I am forever drawn to family as a recurring central theme of my writing," Hosseini said in the announcement. "My earlier novels were, at heart, tales of fatherhood and motherhood. My new novel is a multi-generational-family story as well, this time revolving around brothers and sisters, and the ways in which they love, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for each other. I am thrilled at the chance to share this book with my readers.” An AP report quotes Penguin President Susan Petersen Kennedy as saying the new novel will take place "in different parts of the world" and will offer "a clear experience and characters you can identify with even if their lives are very different from your own."
Hosseini was a practicing physician in California when he wrote The Kite Runner, a surprise hit in 2003 that illuminated Afghanistan's tortured history through the powerful story of two boys. The novel sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. and was followed by A Thousand Splendid Sons, his 2007 novel that focused on the suffering of Afghan women. Though American curiosity about Afghanistan has dimmed during the past decade, Hosseini has earned a following with his fine writing, and readers are likely to follow wherever his new novel takes them.
Authors, and especially new authors, often worry about the length of their novel, which is usually gauged one of two ways: by the number of words, or the number of pages. The former is the standard measure for a manuscript, as it is more accurate; the page count of a book can be manipulated by the design of the interior (i.e., the size of the page, type, margins, line spacing and leading, and the addition of decorative elements).
In general, a first novel for adult readers should be somewhere between 75,000 and 110,000 words in length. If the novel is much shorter than this, publishers (and readers) will feel cheated—no amount of design can hide the fact they a book is very thin on content. On the other hand, a first novel that gets much above 110,000 words often suggests that the author is overwriting, or is unable to edit their own work. Consider trimming your manuscript and saving the material for another book.
Of course these are broad generalizations, but first-time authors (and many established authors) are wise to consider them before shopping a manuscript. Discipline, craft, and market expectations each play a part in the commercial and artistic success of novel.
We recently heard a story on the CBC show Day 6 with Brent Bambury that we found quite intriguing, amusing, and a bit disturbing: e-books that are produced with similar titles to bestsellers to lure the unwary into buying them. Examples include the I am the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and Thirty-Five Shades of Grey.
We almost feel ashamed dignifying these productions with italicization and mention in our blog. They are not good; they are not even trying to be good. They just want to glom on to another author’s success and leech some sales by virtue of title similarity. Since titles can’t, in general, be copyrighted, all this is perfectly legal. Or maybe not—one expert in the piece suggests prosecution may be possible on grounds of fraud.
Another phenomenon mentioned in the story are books that are nothing more than compilations of Wikipedia articles and blogs on some important topic, slapped together without regard to narrative arc or even coherence, and sold as authoritative works.
Such are the dangers of the Wild West of modern, online publishing. Maybe Kathi and I will go ahead with our plan to write A Farewell to Barns.
Have you been cheated by someone selling you a bogus e-book? Tell us your story.
Welcome to the world of instant book publishing. It may have taken Jeremy Lin just a few short weeks to become the hottest player in the NBA, but it has taken even less time for a publisher to release an ebook about the basketball phenom. Skyhorse Publishing has announced that its $1.99 ebook, Jeremy Lin: The Incredible Rise of the NBA's Most Unlikely Superstar, will go on sale Thursday. A longer print version of the book by veteran sportswriter Bill Gutman will be released in September.
Gutman completed the 20,000-word ebook almost as fast as Lin can dribble down the court. "It took 10 days from signing of the contract to delivery of the ebook manuscript," says editor Jason Katzman at Skyhorse.
In the ebook, Gutman traces Lin's rise from his earliest days as the child of Taiwanese immigrants in California. Though both his parents were 5'6", and Lin himself was only 5'3" when he started high school, he ended up growing a full foot taller and becoming the point guard at Palo Alto High School. Lin fans will relish Gutman's point-by-point descriptions of his high school games, his eventual recruitment to play college ball at Harvard and his experiences in the Ivy League. The second half of the book follows Lin as he joins the Knicks and triggers the eruption of Linsanity around the world.
Basketball fans who don't find enough excitement in marking their NCAA brackets and watching second-round games tomorrow (go, Vanderbilt!) might want to take a shot at reading Jeremy Lin.
As authors, advice givers, and readers, your Author Enablers give a lot of thought to the idea of originality. When we write our next book, we want it to be a fresh offering for the readers of the world. We want our unique voice(s) and perspective to come through, and we want entertain the reader with a story or message that is different than any they have read before.
On the other hand, as the biblical philosopher said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Sometimes it seems that every subject has been written about, every story idea explored. In one of his essays, our friend Roy Blount Jr. once said many stories can be summed up in three simple phrases: papa – boo boo – bye bye; boo boo – papa – bye bye; and papa – bye bye – boo boo. (Any pronoun can be substituted for “papa.”)
One afternoon Roy was babysitting for his two year old grandson, who began to fiddle with the fireplace screen. Worried that he was going to pinch his finger in the screen, Roy tried to take the fireplace screen away from his grandson, managing in the process to pinch the little boy’s finger. His grandson looked at the blister and then looked at his grandfather with a face of betrayal, and said, “Papa – boo boo.” The next day Roy was flying back home and his daughter and grandson were seeing him off at the airport. As he headed down the ramp, the little boy remembered what had happened, turned to his mother and said, “Papa – boo boo – bye bye.” At that point, said Roy, his grandson became a storyteller.
Many great tragedies are built on that threefold plot: King Lear: papa – boo boo – bye bye; Oedipus Rex: bye bye – papa? – boo boo, boo boo, boo boo, boo boo, etc.
There are other, less entertaining formulas that say something along the lines of “all plots can be reduced to three, or four, or seven” types. Does this mean writers should give up and stop trying to be original? Is there nothing new to say, no new stories to tell? Absolutely not. Each generation, each reader cries out for fresh material and new perspectives. The formulas are not the problem, and can even help us to understand that we are part of a grand tradition. The world and every person in it are so mysterious and profound, life so precious, that new stories, ideas, and guides are not only possible to invent—they are essential.
The hard part, of course, is writing something original. Simply copying the styles and techniques that have come before doesn’t do anything to advance the cause of knowledge and art, or even entertainment. Originality is difficult to define, but we all recognize imitative and uninspired work when we read it. The writer’s job is to be inventive and imaginative. It’s hard work, requiring diligence and discipline, but someone’s got to do it.
Here’s something we can do to as readers to support originality: read an author you haven't read before. Go to your library or local bookstore and find a fresh voice, and if you like their work, spread the word. Spend a little money on a new book. Bookstores and vast majority of writers aren’t getting rich, and we all need each other to keep this wonderful process of creation going.
The O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference started today, and if you didn't make it to New York City, never fear: The entire conference is being broadcast live. Check the schedule and revisit the stream here if there's a session you just can't miss. We will definitely be dipping in!
A post from the Author Enablers:
Your new book is coming out soon, and you are going crazy thinking of ways to promote it. A dedicated website is tempting, as is a Facebook page. Your book is called Moby Dick: the Sequel, so you go online and register www.mobydickthesequel, grateful to see that it has not been taken. Then you start pushing your audience to this site via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Is this a good plan? It depends. It’s hard to argue with success, so if you get a lot of traffic to the site, that is good. But what happens when you write your next book, For Whom the Bell Doesn’t Toll? Do you need to start another website, www.forwhomthebelldoesnttoll.com? Do you have to manage both websites at once? Are your readers supposed to go to both websites? That’s expecting a lot of loyalty. When you message people, do you post on both at once? Is it the same post? Or do you tell your fans to abandon site #1 and head to #2?
Most authors won’t only write one book and will have other projects going besides books, such as speaking engagements, blogging, and the occasional massive movie deal. Given this reality (and hope), it is probably best if you create one website that is dedicated to you and all your work where you can do all of your promoting. That way fans of one book will learn about others, and will also be able to learn where you are and what you are doing, all at one handy site. Facebook pages are useful for this purpose, as well.
In short, you are a brand, and you want to brand yourself (in the marketing, not the cowboy sense).
Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry are the authors of Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now. Email them your questions (along with your name and hometown) about writing and publishing, and don’t miss their column on BookPage.com.