f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Amy Krouse Rosenthal Is Wonderful

How do you say Thank you! to an author? The usual suspects—pithy card, fine chocolates, elegant Moleskine—suffice. But most authors silently wish you’d put aside the gifts and, if you want to really show your gratitude, publicize their book.

And so I want to say my thank you to author Amy Krouse Rosenthal here. For going above and beyond what’s required of an author to make a reader (not me, btw) happy. I hope she’s okay without the chocolates, but this is more fitting. After all, it was a bit of Wonkian-author promotion that started this whole business in the first place.

About three years ago, Lisa Samson read and recommended Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Sounded interesting, so I read it and enjoyed it. It even made my “favorites” list of 2005. A few months into 2006, Mark Bertrand and I met up at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, and, having an evening free, browsed the aisles of a local Barnes and Noble. We alternated, as often happens on such trips, between pointing out favorites (covers, authors, books) and scoffing haughtily at things. At some point, we passed by Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life in trade paper and I picked one up to show Mark. (To praise, not scoff.) And like that Dahlian-hero Charlie Bucket, I found myself holding a Golden Ticket. (It was actually a postcard. And not overly golden.)

But it was one of a hundred out there in the world. It entitled me to a prize. It had a password. And it was signed AKR—Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

I’m forever on the lookout for clever author promotion ideas we can “borrow” here at BHP and this one seemed easy enough. I brought the postcard back to the office, showed our assistant marketing manager and then logged on to Amy’s website to peruse the “prizes.”

I’m not a big fan of butterscotch. I figured I wasn’t quick enough to be one of the first 10 people to get my own entry. The flower thing wasn’t my style, nor the soundtrack, I guess.
Which left me with the phone call. A cell phone coffee date with the author.

And I almost cashed in the golden ticket for a chance to grill Ms. Rosenthal about author publicity. Because it seemed, at least from my viewpoint, that she had some pretty creative ideas and managed a fair amount of “buzz” for her book.

It never happened. I stalled at first, not really knowing how the conversation would go, and then stalling soon passed into forgetting fitfully, and then eventually into forgetting completely.

Fast-forward two years.

My youngest daughter now has favorite books of her own, rather than just sitting through whatever her older sisters are being read for evening. And one of her favorites is a book her mom and I like (because it’s short and clever) called Little Pea. She loves the book. She loves the character of Little Pea.

Plot summary: Little Pea lives, plays, loves life with Mom and Dad. Not so big on dinner. Must eat dinner to get dessert. There’s a twist in there that the girls, particularly Youngest, just finds hilarious.

We read this book for months before the hamster in Dad’s brain rouses from its slumber and gets the wheel spinning. Amy Krouse Rosenthal…Amy Krouse Rosenthal…where have I heard that name before. Check author bio…oh!

Long story short (Too late!—a Clue: the Movie reference for you.), Dad goes back into work, finds the Golden Ticket, logs onto the website, and asks a favor.

Years after the fact.

A favor that really involves illustration more than writing.

And the author, who now deserves enshrinement in the Terrific Author Hall of Fame, delivers.

So, thank you to Amy. I want my girls to love reading and let me tell you, getting a letter from a character you love...that's the kind of thing that can make a little girl read for the rest of her life.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Consider Us Flattered

Bride - 2005

Groom - 2008

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Year End Favorites

These aren't the best of the year. Just some of the best of what I took in.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
The Raw Shark Texts by Stephen Hall
Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo - No, it wasn't his best, but I always love losing myself in his worlds.

The Bourne Ultimatum
The only other movie we saw in the theater was Stardust and the book was just so much better.

The Wire - I'm not actually recommending this because it's a pretty hard "R" HBO series...but it's insanely good. Writers on various episodes include folks like Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, George Pelacanos...basically a murderer's row of modern crime writers. I'm through Seasons 1-3 and rumor has it that Season 4 is even better.
Friday Night Lights
Blue Planet and Life in the Undergrowth - Extraordinary BBC documentaries on the ocean and bugs. My kids dig it. And without sounding deviant, the scene of slugs mating was one of the most wonderfully bizarre things I've ever seen.
So You Think You Can Dance


Springsteen's Magic is decent. And he's still incredible live.
Arcade Fire's Neon Bible came close to Funeral. And they're one of the few bands that can even be mentioned in the same breath as the E Street folks for performance. They pull off a crazy hipster-Amish thing and just can blow out a place live.
Fountains of Wayne get a Richard Russo-esque nod for Traffic and Weather. Not their best, but still better than most.
And finally one I missed from 2006 - The Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Viral Marketing of Books - Cost/Benefit Questions

I came across these videos at The Book Design Review. They're for Douglas Coupland's new book The Gum Thief. They're each the first in a series of ad trilogies. You can visit YouTube to see all the rest.

A. In execution, I think they're excellent. Professional, creative, eye-catching, etc.

B. In terms of SELLING the product...which is the necessary outcome of any successful ad...I just am less sure. In purely pitching the story, I thought the third ad caught my attention the most. The first was humorous, but I'm not sure it presents a book I want to read. The second was fascinating but again...I wasn't blown away by what I assume is text from the novel.

C. These trailers are becoming more and more popular for books...for any variety of reasons. As the popularity grows, what we'll see is that the bar is raised for the quality of the ads. And as the bar is raised...you can pretty much bet that the dollars/time/ingenuity required are going to grow as well.

Here's the rub. Are these things selling books? Are they selling enough books to warrant dollars/time/ingenuity? Are you going to buy The Gum Thief? And if not you, then who?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Editor Who Altered the Literary Landscape

I don't know that these days exist anymore within publishing, but there was a time that one man's vision could alter (for good and/or bad) an entire literary landscape.

Here's a primer on Gordon Lish.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What I See a Lot of In Proposals (and Novels)

I am well into my fourth year as an acquisitions editor and after all this time I feel compelled to mention that the amount of coffee mentioned in proposals (particularly in contemporary fiction) and CBA novels I've seen is crazy.

And often not just mentions, but eloquent raptures on the drink. Or, quite often, heroes and heroines who can't function without the stuff. Ah caffeine--the evangelical crack.

Don't know why I'm mentioning other than I've just looked at three proposals in a row that should be underwritten by Starbucks. And perhaps to warn you that making coffee-addiction/devotion a character-trait is perhaps not as original as you might think.

In the holy name of Juan Valdez, go in peace.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

One of the World's Great Authors...Now at Bethany House

See more here.