Friday, January 25, 2008

Jane Dystel rings in the new

This last year, 2007, was the most successful Dystel & Goderich Literary Management has ever enjoyed. We had a number of bestsellers including Dr. Robin Smith’s LIES AT THE ALTAR, JOY BAUER’S FOOD CURES and Barack Obama’s DREAMS FROM MY FATHER. And we had huge successes with David Morrell’s SCAVENGER, Lidia Bastianich’s LIDIA’S ITALY, Jacqueline Carey’s KUSHIEL’S JUSTICE, Michael Weinreb’s THE KINGS OF NEW YORK, and Michael Tucker’s LIVING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE.

Now it is time to look forward to the exciting titles our clients will be publishing in the coming months.

Mary Doria Russell has a wonderful new novel titled DREAMERS OF THE DAY, the story of a bookish spinster who travels to Egypt after losing her family to the Great Influenza and who is swept up in the drama of post-World War I politics through her friendship with Lawrence of Arabia and her spirited acquaintance with legendary figures such as Winston Churchill. Her own bittersweet romance is set against the machinations of these great men whose actions during this period would have serious, if not tragic, repercussions for the Middle East as we know it today.

David Wood, a splendid travel writer and avid golfer will publish AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 ROUNDS about playing his favorite game in exotic and outrageous locations throughout the globe. This is a unique and entertaining read even for those who are not golfers.

Then there is financial guru Michael Farr’s A MILLION IS NOT ENOUGH about how much money each of us needs in order to retire comfortably and how to achieve that goal. Certainly, this is an area of huge interest for the baby boomer demographic.

From Lynne Rosetto Kasper and her MPR producer Sally Swift we’ll see THE SPLENDID TABLE GUIDE TO HOW TO EAT SUPPER based on content from the enormously popular national public radio show The Splendid Table. Long awaited, this new book is bound to be a bestseller.

Jacqueline Carey’s latest fantasy novel will debut in the spring and her huge cult readership will be all over it. KUSHIEL’S MERCY is the final adventure of Imriel de la Courcel. It brings an unforgettable end to the second of Jacqueline’s celebrated trilogies set in the brilliantly realized world of Terre d’Ange.

Well-known actress and author Adrienne Barbeau and bestselling author Michael Scott have an enormously entertaining novel entitled VAMPYRES OF HOLLYWOOD about, well, vampires in Hollywood and a murder mystery involving one of the most (in)famous of their clan, a beautiful and legendary actress.

Journalist and author Gregg Zachary’s latest is a memoir titled MARRIED TO AFRICA about his romance and marriage to Chizo, his spirited Nigerian wife, and their cross-cultural adventures as newlyweds in the San Francisco area. It is an incredible, often funny, sometimes poignant story of love, romance, and race relations.

And, in the fall, bestselling thriller author David Morrell’s THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS will reinvent the Christmas novel with a taut, suspenseful, action-packed and ultimately heartwarming tale of good and evil. This is truly one of his best and most original works.

Along the way, I am hoping for more surprises – which is what keeps all of us happily plugging away in this serendipitous business: New authors, new ideas and new successes. All in all, 2008 looks to me to be a very promising year.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Stacey Glick on another time it paid not to give up

We’ve all heard the stories about big, bestselling authors being rejected by a gazillion houses before getting published. I have one of my own to share. Many years ago, I received a compelling and well-written query letter from a fellow Boston University graduate. A.J. Hartley was a Shakespeare professor who had received his Ph.D. from B.U. Our time there overlapped, but we never knew each other.

Andrew had been writing fiction for many years, and had even queried the agency long before my arrival. I requested his manuscript, and signed it up, then proceeded to shop it around to publishers with no success. That first book was charming and funny, but not quite what publishers were looking for at that time. His next novel, a quiet mystery set on a college campus, was also well done and engaging, but I faced resistance again from publishers, for different reasons this time. All the while, we were learning what A.J. needed to do to turn his talent into a saleable manuscript. Bigger and more commercial were two things that I felt his fiction needed to be, ambiguous as that can sound to an author, and eventually A.J. came back to me with a terrific thriller called The Mask of Atreus. This was around the time that Dan Brown had published The DaVinci Code, and though A.J. hadn’t read the book before he wrote Mask, there were some similarities in style and tone, and in pulling historical facts into contemporary fiction.

I had put a paragraph about the book into our agency newsletter before I submitted the manuscript, and it caught the eye of our subagent in Greece. Before long, we had a large offer from Livanis in Greece, well before I sold the rights here in the U.S. What followed was a series of quick sales internationally, eventually totaling over a dozen deals that took us well into the six figures, and then finally, a U.S. publisher came through. Berkley published The Mask of Atreus as a mass market paperback in April, 2006. The book hit the USA Today bestseller list. We went on to sell his next thriller, On the Fifth Day, which was published by Berkley this past July and hit the New York Times list. A.J. Hartley’s books have been praised by bestselling authors like Steve Berry, Kathy Reichs, James Rollins, and Douglas Preston. Publisher’s Weekly said about Mask: “This intricate and absorbing thriller augurs well for Hartley's career” and in reviewing On the Fifth Day, said “This slam-bang title is a very fun, surprisingly satisfying read.”

A.J. recently signed a 2-book deal with Tor for a new fantasy series which will come out in 2009 and 2010, and we are working on his next thriller now, which uses his Shakespearean background to weave an intriguing, commercial thriller.

Years after I’d signed A.J. up as a client, I found a query letter he’d sent to the agency back in the early 90s. There was a hand-written note on the bottom saying that he was a good writer but it wasn’t the right manuscript. I’m glad that I was able to discover A.J. again so many years later and work with him to develop the right project for him at the right time. A talented author getting the right kind of guidance can find success, even if it takes time, effort, and lots of rejection to get there.