FROM EQUAL RIGHTS TO CIVIL RIGHTS: DESDUNES TO MLK
The New York Bookwoman
Bestseller: A Recipe By Fatima Shaik
1 Book (written from the heart)--Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
1 Wisecracking Author (English accent preferable) -- Helen Simonson
1 Devoted Agent -- Julie Barer
1 Team of Experts from Random House -- Editorial, Susan Kamil; Marketing, Avideh Bashirrad; Publicity, Karen Fink; Paperbacks, Jane von Mehren
Mix well and serve hot to bookstores and book clubs via hardcover, e-book and paperback. Then, enjoy the results - a first novel that is now available in 20 countries and translated into 18 languages, which has spent 36 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list and has sold almost 400,000 copies in paper in less than a year.
'The Making of a Bestseller: From Acquisition to Market,' described a palatable success to over 70 audience members on November 9 and was moderated by Jane Kinney-Denning and Manuela Soares, Pace University Publishing Program professors.
Author Simonson described writing Major Pettigrew as leaving the "10% hairy margins" of literature and approaching "something authentic to me and what I wanted." Her vision was an English village, a cottage, a retired man and the Pakistani woman who lived down the block. Literary agent Julie Barer, saw Simonson's initial chapter for the first time in 2006 but the book wasn't finished. "Once a year," Barer said, "I'd send a note saying, 'Wondering how that book is coming along.'" When Barer finally read the manuscript in December 2008, "I sat in my big white chair by the window and I didn't move until the end." At the time, the economy was slowing down and the book business looked dim. But after reading Simonson's book, Barer said, "For the first time in weeks, I felt happy."
Senior Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief of Random House, Susan Kamil read the manuscript and bought it immediately - even donning her coat and leaving her office to interrupt her boss' lunch across the street to get a swift go-ahead for acquisition. "Your gut and your experience are what you have to go on when you have to act quickly," she said. The editing process was brief, but during this time Simonson comically recalled for the audience that she had misinterpreted Kamil's handwritten notes saying "love this," thinking they said, "lose this." Simonson took out some of her "best jokes." Later, she had to reinsert them.
Avideh Bashirrad, Vice President, Director of Marketing at Random House, said that a focus on book clubs helped Major Pettigrew. It also sold quickly in e-book, boosted, in some part, by Oprah's endorsement of the Kindle around the same time. When Karen Fink, Assistant Director of Publicity at the Random House Publishing group found herself daydreaming about whether "the Major and Mrs. Ali" would take a cruise together, she realized just how much she loved the characters. Her marketing team put together a plan: 'I ❤ the Major.' The love theme resonated with the media, including the New York Times, where critic Janet Maslin reviewed the book "like a love letter," Fink said.
"Really crucial in paperbacks is timing," added Jane von Mehren, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Trade Paperbacks at the Random House Publishing Group. She pushed to have the book on sale in November to get the holiday buyers and lists, and studied the competition.
When Simonson got on the road to promote the book - an 8-city tour, then a 17-city tour - Fink said the author needed no media training. Simonson said, "I'm a stay-at-home mom with two kids and I don't get out much. So give me a mike and I can go all night."
The whole team's enthusiasm for the book and the process showed. The WNBA-NYC audience was thoroughly satiated. A delicious evening.
Sunday, November 22 @ 11:00 am
Fatima Shaik has written a love letter to the entertaining, unpredictable, and flawed characters who populated New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina in What Went Missing and What Got Found, a lyrical short story collection with undertones of the blues.......... A man decides he’ll save his failing New York restaurant by traveling to Cuba to reclaim a legendary chicken recipe stolen from his family by Fidel Castro in Phillippe Diederich’s debut novel Sofrito (pictured)..... In her novel, Almost Crimson, Dasha Kelly portrays a young woman’s struggle to break free from the grips of codependency and poverty to find confidence and success in her career and her personal life...... Multidisciplinary writer and artist Vanessa Garcia’s novel White Light is the story of an artist torn between the need to mourn her father and the chance to break into the art world.
The Writer and Community November 13, 2015
PEN World Voices Festival 2015