One of the first things I do each day is go to NetGalley and approve/deny our NetGalley requests. For anyone who doesn’t know, NetGalley is a service where people can request electronic galleys of our (and other publishers’ books.) Print galleys are very expensive, and using e-galleys has allowed us to get our books into the hands of many more reviewers, librarians, booksellers, and bloggers. But it is not without its difficulties . . . its hilarious difficulties.
The way that I decide whether to approve or deny a request is by looking at the bio of the person sending it. We have a detailed set of request criteria on the NetGalley site here, but I’d like to give some additional tips for anyone requesting books from us. Please note that I speak only for myself here and not for any other publishers or HarperCollins imprints, but I can’t imagine that many of these things wouldn’t be universal. For me, the most important thing about a bio is that it answers the question “why should this person get to read this book a) for free and b) several months in advance?”
And for the record, everything I will say not to do below is something I’ve seen multiple times.
Things That Are Very Helpful to Include in Your NetGalley Bio:
1. The name of your bookstore, library, or blog (or publications you review for)!
This is the single most important thing. Side note: if you don’t have a bookstore to name, then you are NOT A BOOKSELLER. Telling your closest friends about a book which they then may or may not buy does not make you a bookseller. Also, if you have a blog about cupcakes, I don’t care. I’m sure I would if I worked at a cookbook publisher, but I don’t. Ditto for pretty much any blog that is not about books.
2. If you’re a blogger, your blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads etc stats
This is not a make-or-break thing for me, but I love it when people do this. I know that numbers don’t tell the whole story, and that they’re just one tool to measure engagement, but they can’t hurt.
Things That I Don’t Care If You Include in Your NetGalley Bio:
1. The genres you like to read
Many people do this, and I understand why. But I often get requests from people who only list genres that could not be more different from the one of the book they’re requesting. I don’t want to deny these requests, but I wish there was a way for me to deny and say “I’m only denying you because I am 99% sure you won’t like this book.”
2. Your hobbies
If your hobbies are related to the types of books you review, then by all means list them. But if you’re reviewing literary fiction, I don’t care if you like to knit. Or cook. Or rock-climb. I care if you like cats but that’s only because I’m a cat weirdo. Certainly not a reason I would deny anyone, but probably a waste of time.
3. Your life story
Your NetGalley biography is a professional biography that should tell publishers how you can help promote their books. Want to include a line about where you live? Fine. Three paragraphs about your hopes and dreams? No.
Things That You Should Never, Ever Include in Your NetGalley Bio:
1. The fact that you are menopausal.
If I have to explain why, things are even worse than I thought.
Please know that if I ever met you in person, I’d love to hear about all those things (except maybe the menopause part.)
Last week, we announced that we were featuring the ebooks of Simon Van Booy’s individual short stories for just $1.99, and we asked for your help to spread the word! So I thought I’d collect some of the lovely things that people have written about Simon since then. (None of them involve cake, though. Any time I say something nice about Simon, I feel compelled to mention all the desserts he has brought into my life.)
First up is The Girl from the Ghetto, who absolutely, positively loved Simon’s new novel, Everything Beautiful Began After:
Simon is the author of the short story collections Love Begins in Winter and The Secret Lives of People in Love; the philosophy collections Why We Fight, Why We Need Love, and Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter; and the novel Everything Beautiful Began After, which will go on sale on July 5. To celebrate the release of Everything Beautiful Began After, we’re offering ALL Simon’s individual e-book short stories for just $1.99! The one we’re hoping people will start with is Love Begins in Winter, because we think it’s the perfect introduction to his writing.
You can find the Love Begins in Winter at the following retailers:
To celebrate the on-sale day of Hello Goodbye, Emily Chenoweth has graciously agreed to share some of her favorite books with us. Interestingly, this marks the first time I’ve ever heard anyone sing the praises of Northanger Abbey . . .
Strangers in Paradise
By Emily Chenoweth
The summer I was nineteen, my family and I spent a week at The Mount Washington Hotel, a turn-of-the century Spanish Renaissance extravagance deep in the woods of New Hampshire. I remember being awed by the Tiffany glass, the dinnertime orchestra, and the elaborately coiffed women in resort wear. It seemed like the setting for a fairy tale—and whatever that fairy tale might be, I was ready to be its heroine. I believed I’d check out of that hotel a different, more exciting person than I had been when I checked in.
These three books describe a similar situation—one in which a young person visits a place of luxury quite foreign to his or her own circumstances, and emerges somehow transfigured.
(Unlike these fictional folks, I was not, in the end, transformed by my stay at the Mount Washington Hotel. But I used a hotel very much like it for the setting of my novel, Hello Goodbye, so all was definitely not lost.)
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Waugh’s beautiful, devastating novel follows Charles Ryder, a middle-class aspiring artist, from wide-eyed youth to disillusioned middle age. Charles befriends flamboyant Sebastian Flyte in college, later visiting him at his family’s palatial estate. The two fall in love—with each other, after a fashion, but perhaps more with being young in a place of beauty. “The languor of Youth—how unique and quintessential it is,” Charles reflects. “How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost!” The two find that luxury does not bring ease: Sebastian descends into alcoholism and Charles eventually begins a complicated relationship with Sebastian’s sister. Brideshead Revisited—which Waugh once called his magnum opus—is a searing look at fading youth and blossoming faith.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
When Catherine Morland, the charmingly credulous 17-year-old heroine of Jane Austen’s comedic first novel, arrives for a sojourn at the grand, Gothic house of the Tilney family, she is more prepared for horror than opulence. As a lover of dark, Gothic tales, Catherine believes her temporary home must hold appropriately monstrous secrets. A mysterious manuscript she discovers turns out to be nothing but a laundry list, but this doesn’t deter her from further fantasy: she becomes convinced that the master of the house is keeping his wife—ostensibly deceased—locked in an unused wing of the abbey. Her suspicions are encouraged by handsome Henry Tilney, who enjoys her flights of fancy. But Catherine, like other good-hearted Jane Austen heroines, comes to understand her folly, grows up, marries, and lives happily ever after in improved financial circumstances.
Evening by Susan Minot
A wealthy family’s Maine estate serves as a backdrop to young love in Minot’s mesmerizing Evening. Ann Grant, a seamstress’s daughter from Boston, travels to a Maine island for the wedding of her best friend, Lila Wittenborn, where she meets a charismatic and seductive—not to mention engaged—doctor named Harris Arden. Though Ann has become familiar with the privileged life of the Wittenborns, she’s an innocent when it comes to romance. Minot’s observations on class are subtle but astute—as Lila informs Ann, “In New England the rich let old things stay old”—and her descriptions of Ann’s love-addled state are perfect. What makes the novel larger than a simple love story is the fact that this is all told in flashbacks, as Ann, now 65 and dying of cancer, imagines that Harris has come to her bedside to be with her in her final days.
Ironically, The Mount Washington Hotel was in foreclosure that summer we were there. In my dad’s words, “it was a dump.” That it’s now been restored to its Rockefeller-era glory is beside the point. It simply proves that in matters of youthful expectation, architecture often counts for less than imagination.
Last night I started reading a book that’s been on my TBR shelf for a while—Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God, and Diversity on Steroids. I’d been interested in this book for two reasons. One: It’s a nonfiction account of life in Maimonides, the hospital in Brooklyn where I was born. Two: I love books about non-office workplaces. Aside from a stint at a day camp in college, I’ve worked in offices for my entire adult life, and while they’re also ripe territory for journalists and novelists, they don’t inspire that same curiosity that other types of workplaces do for me.
What workplace would you like to read a novel or nonfiction work about? Every single time I’m in an airport I wish desperately for a novel that explores the lives of the people who work there. And what are your favorite quirky workplace books?
Greg Olear’s book Fathermucker won’t be out in time for Father’s Day, which is sad because it would make a perfect Father’s Day gift. But don’t despair! You can preorder Fathermucker right now (just choose your favorite retailer here) and then give your father/grandfather/husband/other random guy you’re buying Father’s Day presents for this nifty card:
In celebration of Father’s Day, Greg has also provided us with this list of 10 great books for the holiday. Check them out below, and let us know if you preorder!
10 Great Fathers Day Books
By Greg Olear
In alphabetical order:
1. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
It’s not about a boy; it’s about a millionaire playboy who becomes a father, without actually becoming a father. (High Fidelity would work here, too. Or Songbook. Anything by Hornby, really.)
The père in this novel is not exactly a model papa. Good fathers, after all, do not abscond to Paris in the middle of the night with their sexy nanny, their toddling daughter in tow. But Marie, bad in all the right ways, would tempt even the World’s Greatest Dad.
3. Holy Water, James P. Othmer
As Othmer himself—one of the funnier writers going—puts it, “This Father’s Day, give the gift of failed dreams, falsified vasectomies and suburban malaise!” Now in paperback.
4. Little Children, Tom Perrotta
In which a stay-at-home dad and a stay-at-home mom get it on. Includes a great riff on the brilliance of Raffi.
5. Playdate, Thelma Adams
Like Little Children, but in San Diego. And with more sex. And without the creepy sex offender subplot. Adams calls the emerging genre “dick-lit.”
6. Rock-n-Roll Will Save Your Life, Steve Almond
Not really about dads, as such, although the arc of this musical memoir culminates in Almond’s fatherhood. Worth it for the exegesis of “Down in Africa” alone.
One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, concerning a recently laid-off, recently cuckolded father of two who has perhaps watched a few too many episodes of Weeds. Insightful, beautifully written, and funny as all get-out.
8. This One Is Mine, Maria Semple
Don’t let the cupcake on the cover fool you; this is not a “chick lit” title. “Chick lit” titles don’t include jokes about Allen Iverson, anal sex, and becoming pregnant during groupie sex with Def Leppard’s one-armed drummer. This is LLOL funny (the second “L” stands for “literally”), and I wept like a baby at the end.
9. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Ron Chernow
Fantastic and exhaustive look at the richest man America ever produced—and likely ever will. John D.’s father, the illustrious Doc Rockefeller, was a traveling salesman of healthful elixirs—like Paul McCartney in the “Say Say Say” video. If you’re interested in finance and Standard Oil and the fallacy of the pro-deregulation movement, this is the book for you.
10. You Can Make Him Like You, Ben Tanzer
Tanzer’s protagonist, Keith, is sort of the target audience for the beer commercials they run during football games. But in the end, Tanzer does make us like him. This one is told in short, pop culture-rich passages that makes for perfect bathroom reading.
I’m not a big series reader, but there is one series to which I have always been faithfully devoted . . . even though it’s been about twelve or thirteen years since I read the first book!
I first heard about Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series way back in the late 90s when the miniseries of More Tales of the City, the second book in the series, aired on Showtime. At the time, my family didn’t have cable, so I never actually watched the series, but the publicity surrounding it was enough to make me want to read the books. If you’ve never dipped into Tales of the City before, all you have to know is that it’s about the residents of an apartment building, 28 Barbary Lane, in San Francisco in the 70s. Though there are many characters, our entry into the series is Mary Ann Singleton, a young, naive woman just arrived in the city whose life changes once she moves into 28 Barbary Lane.
Looking back on my initial obsession with Tales, it seems somewhat strange. I was an 18-year-old girl living in Brooklyn who was endlessly fascinated by the comings and goings of a group of people of various ages (though most, except for the landlady Mrs. Madrigal, are in their mid to late 20s at the start of the series if I remember correctly) in 70s San Francisco. But that’s what Armistead Maupin’s writing does—it sucks you in. Tales was originally written as a series of newspaper serials, and it shows. The chapters are short and leave you dying to know what comes next. It’s like a soap opera, and anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I consider that a high compliment.
After Tales of the City, Armistead wrote five more books in the initial series—More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, Babycakes, Significant Others, and Sure of You—and then returned to the world of Barbary Lane years later with Michael Tolliver Lives and, just this past fall, Mary Ann in Autumn. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to re-read these books—partly because I loved them so much and want to see if they hold up for me, and partly because they’re so fun and quick to read that I know it won’t take up a ton of time—and I’ve decided that the upcoming paperback publication of Mary Ann is the perfect time. And (obviously) I want as many of you as possible to join me!
To entice you to join me in this, I’m giving away TEN copies of Tales of the City! The first 10 people to sign up below will get one. Just write a post saying you’re signing up and then link to your post using the Mr. Linky below. (Note: I couldn’t get the Mr Linky to work, so just comment below. If you don’t have a blog, announce it on your Facebook and link to your status update). While you’re reading, tweet using the hashtag #talesofthecity.
And for more on Armistead, including the Tales of the City musical, check out his website, facebook, and twitter.
Here at Harper Perennial, we sometimes refer to our books by nicknames. Some of them are too impolite to share. But ever since our first planning meetings for this season, we’ve been referring to a group of our books as our “big idea books.” Each of the books below presents “big ideas” in an easy-to-read, thought-provoking way, and if you like one, you might like the others, too!
Of course, the fall book I’m most excited about is our very own Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. But if I venture outside the Harper bubble, this is the book that thrills me:
My Tom Perrotta fandom goes all the way back to high school, when my awesome Fiction Writing teacher (go Ms. Fletcher!) suggested we read his short story collection Bad Haircut. Though I hear them talked about far less often than Little Children and Election, those stories still stand out for me. Before Bad Haircut, most of the short stories I had read were classics. BH was the first book of stories I read about normal people in normal situations, and it was the first to make me cry.
And though I did not tell all this to Tom Perrotta when he signed my galley at BEA, I did tell him I’ve been a fan since then, and he seemed to appreciate it. One result (not sure if it’s a downside or an upside) of working in publishing and working closely with so many authors is that it’s very hard for me to put any author, even one from another house, on a pedestal. But when I waited on that line, I got a fluttery feeling in my stomach. I’m really looking forward to reading this new book and seeing how he brings his sensibility to a dystopian situation.
What fall book are you most excited about? Something you grabbed at BEA, or something else?
we still have books for you! Today we invited some of our Harper Perennial and Harper Paperbacks authors to meet with bloggers. But we want those of you who aren’t at BEA to get to experience these books an authors too! That’s why we’re giving them away. So see below for some brief descriptions of the two books we featured today, Lauren Belfer’s A Fierce Radiance and Diana Spechler’s Skinny, and comment for a chance to win! I’ll pick three winners to get copies of both books.
And check in with Armchair BEA throughout the week for even more giveaways—from us and from other publishers!
In the anxious days after Pearl Harbor, Life photojournalist Claire Shipley finds herself covering one of the nation’s most important stories. At New York City’s renowned Rockefeller Institute, researchers are racing to save thousands of wounded American soldiers and countless others by developing a miraculous new drug they call penicillin. For Claire, a single mother haunted by the loss of her young daughter—a death the miracle drug could have prevented—the story is cuttingly personal, especially after she unexpectedly begins to fall in love with the shy and brilliant head physician, James Stanton. But Claire isn’t the only one interested in the secret cure. When a researcher dies under suspicious circumstances, the stakes become starkly clear: someone understands just how profitable the new drug could be—and will stop at nothing to get it. Now, with lives and a new love hanging in the balance, Claire will throw herself into harm’s way to find a killer—no matter what price she may have to pay.
After her father’s death, twenty-six-year-old Gray Lachmann finds herself compulsively eating. Desperate to stop bingeing, she abandons her life in New York City for a job at a southern weight-loss camp. There, caught among the warring egos of her devious co-counselor, Sheena; the self-aggrandizing camp director, Lewis; his attractive assistant, Bennett; and a throng of combative teenage campers, she is confronted by a captivating mystery: her teenage half-sister, Eden, whom Gray never knew existed. Now, while unraveling her father’s lies, Gray must tackle her own self-deceptions and take control of her body and her life. Visceral, poignant, and often wickedly funny, Skinny illuminates a young woman’s struggle to make sense of the link between hunger and emotion, and to make peace with her demons, her body, and herself.
we’d love to see you! The HarperCollins booth is #3338 and #3339, and we’ll all be there on and off the entire time. I’ll also be leading a group expedition to Chipotle on Weds the 25th at 1 PM. So far there’s 9 of us going, and there might be more. We’ll be meeting at the booth, so join us! If you’re coming to Chipotle and you haven’t already told me on twitter, it’d be helpful to post a comment here so I have an idea how many people to expect.
Now, if you want to see our authors (and those of It Books and Harper Paperbacks), see below!
Tuesday, May 24
9:30 – 10:00
Autographing: Q: A LOVESTORY by Evan Mandery, Table 23
10:30 – 11:00
Autographing: FATHERMUCKER by Greg Olear, Table 23
11:30 – 12:00
Autographing: WHEN WE DANCED ON WATER by Evan Fallenberg, Table 6
Autographing: GREATPHILOSOPHERSTHATFAILED AT LOVE by Andrew Shaffer, Table 23
Wednesday, May 25
10:00 – 10:30
Autographing: EVERYTHINGBEAUTIFULBEGANAFTER by Simon Van Booy, Table 6
Autographing: DOMESTICVIOLETS by Matthew Norman, Table 26
11:30 – 12:00 ABA Lounge Autographing: HEART OF DECEPTION by M.L. Malcolm
12:00 – 12:30
Autographing: JERUSALEMMAIDEN by Talia Carner, Table 22
Autographing: THENINTHWIFE by Amy Stolls, Table 25
1:30 – 2:00 ABA Lounge Autographing: Q: A LOVESTORY by Evan Mandery
3:00 – 3:30
Autographing: SKINNY by Diana Spechler, Table 25
Autographing: HEART OF DECEPTION by M.L. Malcolm, Table
4:00 – 4:30
Autographing: EVERYTHING WE EVERWANTED by Sara Shepard, Table 190
Thursday, May 26
11:00 – 11:30
Autographing: MAP OF TRUEPLACES by Brunonia Barry, Table 9
12:00 – 12:30
Autographing: PRIDE/PREJUDICE by Ann Herendeen, RWA Booth 3774
A little while ago, I asked for your suggestions for awesome New York books. You offered lots of suggestions, ALL of which are listed below, but the one that came up the most was . . .
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem!
Close seconds were Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.
Are there any that were left out? What do you think of the top choices?
The full list!
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
The Great Bridge by David McCullough
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer
From Rockaway by Jill Eisenstadt
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr
All-of-a-Kind Family (series) by Sydney Taylor
Here is New York by E.B. White
Watchmen by Alan Moore
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
The Sandman: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith 3 votes
Harriet the Spy
New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
Dreamland by Kevin Baker
The Epic of New York City by Edward Robb Ellis
Forever by Pete Hamill
Babysitters Club Super Special New York New York by Ann M. Martin (this one was said as a joke but I’m leaving it in)
Slaves of New York by Tama Janowitz
Shadows on the Hudson by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Very Valentine/Brava Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Zero by Jess Walter
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann 3 votes
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Girl in Translation
Island at the Center of the World
JR by William Gaddis
Herzog by Saul Bellow
The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
Molly Murphy (series) by Rhys Bowen
Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick
Time and Again
Savage City by TJ English
The Faith of Graffiti
Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Totally Killer by Greg Olear
Dogrun by Arthur Nersesian
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Little, Big by John Crowley
Peeps by Scott Westerfield
Some Girls by Kristin McCloy
Minding Ben by Victoria Brown
The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe