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SUGGESTION BOX

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May 26, 2005

Comments

Beth

Hello Reagen. I just finished Atkinson's recent short story collection "Not the End of the World" and thought it very clever and charming. I am curious about the challenges in marketing it that you alluded to. Are short story collections usually much more difficult to sell than novels? Also, has the success of Case Histories generated any increase in sales of these earlier works?

Thanks, Beth

booksquare

Thanks so much for spending the day here, answering questions. I wanted to piggyback on Wendi's question. Are there different definitions of success when it comes the various genres of fiction? Because this book went back for six printings, do you think L, B will take a different approach to marketing and positiong Kate Atkinson's next book?

the happy booker

And to add to Booksquare's question: if this book is considered a "success," is there more pressure to follow up with another genre meets lit combo? Do you know what Kate is working on now? Wendi

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I continue being pleased with this selection. Last week I filed an essay called "Reaching Across the Aisle," to be published in July, which is about my preference for cooperation over competition and how it would do well for Chicks and Lits to find some common ground and pool their readers resources rather than constantly throwing stones at one another. I included a list of some 15 authors/books that readers who like my work might also enjoy and had Atkinson as #1 on the list. OK, so maybe the list was alphabetical, but her name would not have been there at all were it not for the efforts of the LBC.

Reagan Arthur

Sorry I had to duck out early yesterday -- spring concert at kindergarten! -- and I hope you'll forgive the following bulk answer (I'm new at this).

So, to Dan and was I surprised at its selection given the little box at the top of the website? I suppose I focused more on "the best" than "struggling," and since I do think this is one of the best books out there, I wasn't surprised (I like a little hubris with my coffee in the morning). But I think that any literary novel faces a struggle to be seen and heard -- again, without giving away state secrets, the sales to date of this novel vs those of, say, John Sandford over the past 3 weeks, would prove my point.

And Dan again, regarding the number of people in an acquisitions meeting: every book is different, every discussion is different, but in general it's a pretty clear-eyed consideration of a book from all angles. I've seen many instances where editorial enthusiasm overrode gloomy (but realistic) sales prospects. We tend to discuss between 2 and 5 projects at a meeting.

And on to Bookdwarf: Buying a book I love by an unknown writer isn't necessarily hard -- if it's great and others here love it, we'll probably want to give it a shot. It's getting it noticed before and upon publication that is, as you point out, tough. So we send it to writers for blurbs, to booksellers, increasingly now to bloggers, etc. I'm glad you bring up HUMMINGBIRD'S DAUGHTER, which is an in-house favorite and, while I'm here (I'm not the editor), a flat-out fantastic novel. Bloggers have been early on the ground with this one and I think they are playing a crucial role in the way the book is really picking up speed.

Now, Happy Booker: we measure success for literary fiction in all the ways you mention - awards, reviews, and sales, and we hope for happy convergence of the three.

Beth: in general, with a few exceptions every year like Melissa Bank or Jhumpa Lahiri, it's much harder to sell a story collection than a novel. We've seen nice movement for the paperback edition of NOT THE END OF THE WORLD lately, but since Kate's first 3 books are with Picador, her former publisher, I don't know how they've been affected.

Booksquare: yes, we have different expectations for different kinds of books -- a commercial thriller, for example, has to clear a higher bar to be considered a success. We'll certainly make the most of everything that happened for CASE HISTORIES when we publish Kate's next novel.

Wendi, I do know what Kate is working on next! (If I were an emoticon kind of gal, I'd insert something with a wink right here.)

Thanks so much, Lauren, for the nod, I'm glad to hear it.

And thanks, everyone, for the interest and the support. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm truly grateful to all the bloggers who've worked so hard not just to discuss and support CASE HISTORIES but on behalf of so many great, worthy books.

Dan Wickett

Beth,

I've put in an inquiry with Picador about any type of sales bump for Atkinson's prior books. No promises, but somebody is looking into it for the LBC. If anything comes of it, I'll post here.

Enjoy,

Caitlin Flanagan

Reagan,

Do you find that any of your authors suffer from a kind of sibling rivalry? In other words, if you priase one too lavishly, does another need extra attention? How do you deal with insecure or needy writers?

Caitlin

Friend Literature

"I get the sense that some readers are disappointed enough in the book's success and its corporate publisher that they'll give it a miss on principle, and that old maternal stand-by comes to mind: don't cut off your nose to spite your face! Borrow it from a friend, or the library -- I'm not interested in boosting our sales figures, only, like the estimable folks behind the LitBlog Co-Op, in sharing the rare satisfaction to be found in reading a great book."

"I do tend to fall over in a heap at nearly anything Kate sends me."

I believe all of this. Yes. Yes.

Sandra Sanchez

I have only recently discovered the litblogging world (a small corner of it anyway) and just this morning attended an interesting panel about it at the BEA whereon one individual appeared in a grotesque costume (which is fine: I always enjoy a touch of the surreal/absurd). Anyway, it is quite possible that in recommending the following books I am being absolutely gauche and if that is the case, just say so and accept my apologies, keeping in mind I don't know the etiquette and am, in any case, from Colorado. I am a founding member of a publishing collective (a kind of cyber commune if you will) and one of the books I want to recommend is among our first three titles and the other is a future project (unless we can help this author find a larger publisher with enough money to pay him). But in one respect I feel that it is not so gauche because these two are the books that inspired me to email a long time friend and literary journal publisher about starting this collective and inspired him to decide to go for it. The Gift, ISBN 0-9766274-0-X (a few copies available at our booth at the BEA #1720) was written nearly twenty years ago and the author sent it right off to Nan Talese who had been her editor at Random house back in the early seventies for a book called The Grubbag (a compilation of columns she had written for the Liberation News Service) and Ms. Talese responded that it was a powerful book but no one wanted to read about the holocaust. Obviously that has changed as there seem to be quite a few books about the holocaust in recent years. Not too long thereafter Pat Conroy (with Nan Talese as his editor) came out with Beach Music with an interesting holocaust component and Ita felt really discouraged. She not only gave up on the mss. but gave up writing. I took the mss. and tried to find a publisher for it. Now I am just getting too damn old to wait for someone else to respond and decided I had to get this done myself. I sent it to the above mentioned editor/publisher (The Long Story btw if you want to check that one out) and he loved it and here we are. I've known Ita for forty four years but only discovered Roberto Lucero about ten years ago, a classic little book called Sangre Del Monte I found in the Cultural Legacy Bookstore in Denver. Peter and I both loved this book and wanted to publish it in order to help get it more exposure. Roberto has done a POD thing for these past few years and this is a book that definitely deserves to be discovered. ISBN 1-4140-5660-5(e book) 1-4140-5661-3 (paperback) or 1-4140-5662-1 (dust jacket) and you can reach the author at:160 Washington SE #168 Albuquerque, NM 87108 It is set in New Mexico back when it was still Mexico in the 1840s A mythic tale about a sixty year old man who goes on a journey to seek out the man or men who beat his eldest son and killed a young Apache. We recently hooked up with another writer named Paul Johnson who said Sangre Del Monte breaks every rule of novel writing and that only a fool would touch it with a red pencil, and called it a "miracle of a book" (I agree).

Paul's credentials are not too shabby. The New York Times reviewed his first novel back in 1984 quite favorably (Killing the Blues, St. Martin's, don't have copy handy) and ten years later called his second novel, Operation Remission, "remarkable" (ISBN 0-9637974-3-3). We are hoping we can stay alive long enough to publish his third novel The Marble Orchard next year. Meantime, best way to describe Operation Remission is with film analogies: consider a blend of The Interpreter, Resevoir Dogs and Alice's Restaurant and I think you get the picture. Wonderful suspenseful book. Gritty serious stuff but written with what I've come to call vintage Paul Johnson humor.

So . . . . hope I'm not being too gauche to recommend these books. LIke the friend of literature above I also do not care about boosting sales so much as spreading the word about books that I love. So you all have a good night. Maybe I'll see some of you tomorrow. Sandy Sanchez from The Wessex Collective (booth #1720).

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