Industry scuttlebutt has it Lady Gaga’s shopping around a book proposal. After two security checks and signing an NDA made of mac n cheese, I was able to get a look at the pitch. Let me tel you, readers, Ms. Gaga does not disappoint. She’s figured out a range of scenarios for translating her inimitable style to the printed page.
Here are just a few of the ideas on offer:
The Spit Book: Gaga will projectile spit onto blank pages; these pages will then (somehow) be mass produced. Three lucky “little monsters” will contribute the epilogue; Orbit gum is sponsoring the contest. (Somewhere, Matthew Barney is slapping his forehead.)
Made This Way: A 3lb. slab of birch tagged with an ISBN and sold exclusively at Archie McPhee. “This book isn’t pretending to be anything it’s not, just like me,” explained a somnambulant Gaga. The New Yorker has already bought first serial rights.
LookBookVookNook!ook: This one sounds like a nightmare for the production department.
What a month! I’ve been hard at work lately on a number of book proposals. I decided to jump on the “stunt year” book bandwagon, popularized by A.J. Jacobs.
Except I plan on being much more efficient. Why waste an entire year on one idea, when I could glean all necessary knowledge in a day or two? This is also an ingenious method for hedging my bets. On the docket so far:
In Remembrance of Breakfast Past: How a Day of Reading Nothing But Proust Saved My Marriage
NewerJack: Three Meals in America’s Harshest Prison
Without: A Shocking Afternoon and Early Evening Spent Among the Nation’s Homeless
Miss Information: A Guilty Liberal Kills a Sunday Watching Fox News, Goes Crazy, and Ultimately Learns to Love America Again
Bright Ice, Big Wheelies: An Epic 2-Hour Journey with the Ice Road Bikers
Silence Is Golden: My Short Experiment in Mime
Paper Lioness: An Amateur’s Short Career with the WNBA
Ancient Chinese Secret? Why Briefly Rejecting Western Medicine Was the Best Decision I Ever Made
The Thoreau You Don’t Know: Communing with Nature While Comcast Takes Forever to Install Cable
The Day of Living Modestly: One Man’s Humble Quest to Subsist on $1 a Day in America (for One Day)
Go Wester, Young Man: Traversing the Rocky Mountains by Window Seat
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In the new year I’ll be starting a new job, moving from the corporate level of Macmillan to the publisher level at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (More on this later.)
And since the holidays are a time of giving, I thought I’d burn all my bridges by revealing our corporate secrets. I’m like The Insider guy without the accent!
Ebook Pricing – The hot debate in publishing this year. How do you set prices for a new format so author, publisher and reader all get a fair deal? While some houses like Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins are experimenting with windowing ebook releases, we’ve tried a more controversial method. Ebooks are released the same day as the hardcover, but the pricing is determined by those numbered balls you see on lottery drawings. If the three balls come up 981, then the ebook is $9.81. (Or $981, depending on how we’re feeling.) We’re still fine-tuning this, and may introduce glow-in-the-dark balls in 2010.
Author Advances – Many point fingers at high author advances as part of the problem. If a publisher commits $500K or more to a book, it’s in their fiduciary interest to make a blockbuster right out of the gate. (Obviously, this may draw publicity efforts from smaller but no less valid books.) We’ve solved this problem using advanced game theory. The Fairmont Method indicates that where author advances X exceed market stability at Y, the percentage differential A is squared by X through the author writing “a really good book everyone will read.”
It’s All Mad Libs – All of our fiction is written as Mad Libs, with blanks for character names and places. Then, just before going to press, we insert the name of the most recent scandalized celebrity. Wonder why that moving debut novel about 1920s life in the deep south is narrated by a precocious twelve-year-old girl named Tiger Woods? Wonder no more. (We tried this with historical nonfiction, but everyone just got confused.)
Bailout Money – Obama gave us, like, $4 billion in February. So we’re coasting on that for a while. Thanks taxpayers!