Wednesday, September 23, 2009

There Are Book Parties, Then There Are…

Book parties. You and I might throw a book launch party -- at our local book store or wine shop or church or whatever would fit our book. We might have punch or a cake with our cover on it. Maybe a band or background music. We’d invite friends and sell books.

Then there’s Dan Brown’s book party.

That’s a horse of a different color, as they say in Emerald City.

Wanna know how to party like Dan Brown? You might want to read the Los Angeles Times article recapping his party.

He and a few hundred of his friends celebrated at Gotham Hall in New York on the day of The Lost Symbol’s release.
Symbols from the book's cover were projected high on the walls. Catering staff wore bright white George Washington-style wigs. "Lost Symbol" cocktails were offered in oversized martini glasses, followed by champagne for toasting. Delicious finger snacks came by. A White House cake was on display, then sliced up for dessert.
In addition to a few hundred of his friends, there were some others there.
… Random House's biggest bigwigs -- Knopf-Doubleday Publisher Sonny Mehta and Random House CEO Markus Dohle -- were there, getting thanked by Brown from the stage.
Carolyn Kellogg, who wrote the article, likened the event to the Oscars. Brown cracked jokes and thanked everyone.
What he said, mostly, was thank you. He thanked everyone in the food chain of his book, from his wife, Blythe, to his agent to the audiobook crew and the production staff.
Kellogg noted that his talk and book launch had more in common with the Oscars and the movie industry than just his long thank yous.
… the concern is that he's the only guy who's in the running. The movie industry couldn't survive on Meryl Streep alone; the publishing industry might benefit from nurturing more of its own demi-stars to fill out the program.
Nurturing authors other than the obvious best-sellers? Not a new concept. It’s something we’ve discussed before here on Straight From Hel. I love that Dan Brown has another mega-seller out. I want there to be sales of books. I love books. I love reading. I bought The Lost Symbol. I want to read different kinds of books. I can live without celebrity regurgitations and political tell-alls. I don’t want to live without authors whose series I love but who are in danger of being dropped because they’re mid-list, or new authors who must sell a mind-boggling number of books their first time out or they won’t get a second chance, or friends who’ve written beautiful but quiet books but don’t have a platform that will net them thousands of sales.

I’m with Kellogg. I hope the publishing industry nurtures authors who are not mega-stars. Dan Brown wasn’t a star until he became one. I hope the publishing industry keeps looking for new stars. There are lots of them out there working to be discovered.
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30 comments:

  1. Amen!! I hope the publishing world continues to develop and find new stars as well:)

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  2. There used to be more nurturing going on of new authors, it seems to me. I'd like to see that incubation process happening again.

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  3. I used to hate it when my parent's said something about "back in the old days" but now I feel that way, especially about this subject.
    Karen

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  4. Well, at least people are thinking about books again! Thank goodness for Twilight, Harry Potter, and Dan Brown...

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  5. I'm with you and Kellogg and the hope that the "industry nurtures authors who are not mega-stars."
    They all had to start from somewhere, and so do we.

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  6. My invitation must have been lost in the mail! Though I'd like a little nurturing to, I don't begrudge Dan Brown's fame. It must feel great to be 'nurtured' in such a manner.

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  7. What a thoughtful and on-point post, Helen. I particularly liked your closing paragraph. Indeed, today’s “stars” were just regular guys and gals before lighting struck…no pun, Harry Potter. What’s the difference between some of the really good books you’ve edited, or read from a small press, and the mega people…luck? Sometimes it seems like it. Still, the system is what it is and wishing it was something else won’t go far in the real world. To quote Don Meredith, “If wishes and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a very nice Christmas.”

    Best Regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

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  8. As wonderful as this was for Dan Brown, I'm with you on the midlist authors. Not everyone can be at the top of the heap, sometimes that position is a revolving door. I guess one way to help is to support those mid-lists who we love.

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  9. It's a bit of a circle, I think. New authors need to be nourished, but so do new readers.

    If the Dan Browns and JK Rowlings can bring in new readers who stay to read other books, then everyone wins.

    A little thinking outside the box - like your idea the other day of showing celebrities reading and talking about books - will go a long way in accomplishing this.

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  10. Marvelous post, Helen! I do think the important thing to remember is that Dan Brown (and his ilk) weren't always DAN BROWN. Everyone starts out at the same place.

    Encouraging words about the mid-list authors and those waiting their moment in the sun. To stop looking would be stupid. These people don't strike me as stupid. Every new success brings more money into the industry. Let's hope the powers that be keeping looking at the horizon and not down at their feet!

    Elspeth

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  11. Well said! Yes, Dan Brown was once an "aspiring" writer working hard at his craft, and I'm glad he has found success.

    And Rowlings did get many passes before she found the person who gave her story a longer look and made so many people believe in magic...

    Talent, skill, stars aligned in the proper way for one moment --all adds to the mystery and excitement and hope.

    Dan Brown wouldn't resent anyone else's success, either, heh!

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  12. I love "Dan Brown wasn't a star until he became one." Imagine all the lost gems out there because they didn't have the weight of a name behind them. Makes me sad a book lover and writer.

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  13. I read an article today written by a former publishing big-wig , an editor. He said midlist is where they find the gambles that pay off. Dan Brown may seem to make money for them but in most cases the advances never get paid back form sales. It's a very strange business.

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  14. Me? Me? Please discover me? I'm a star needing to be discovered! lol (but not really)

    As with any career in entertainment, you gotta be good to make it, but being good doesn't mean you will make it. As the old saying goes, "sometimes it's better to be lucky than to be good." But Dan IS good, I will certainly grant him that.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  15. I wish they would, but...
    It's so much about the dollar bill. I think if all the big dogs in New York could drop all the mid-list authors, they would.

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  16. I'm with you, Helen! Besides, when I get A War of Her Own published, I'm throwing a big party!

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  17. This makes me dream of my own gregarious, bloated, super-party someday.... imagine a huge chocolate cake shaped like a mountain, with a little figure of me climbing to the top with a fierce look on my face (powdered sugar would make for great snow-capped peaks!). There will also be fire dancers, hula-hoopers, and a dance floor! And I'll be presented to the crowd on a bed carried by 4 muscular, shirtless men. And there will be a tequila fountain somewhere, too....

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  18. Helen, I was soooooo going to ban you from my blog today because of the POV topic. (Just kidding of course, and said with a very big grin.) But, your comment was gracious as always and you didn’t rat me out. HA. You sneaky gal. Imagine the fun you could have had. No, don’t; it’s too painful to think about. For those who don’t know, Helen’s seen all my dirty POV laundry. Right, Helen?

    Best Regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

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  19. Spending precious time on the midlisters? Imagine that!! An idea whose time has (hopefully) finally come. :)

    --Lisa
    http://authorlisalogan.blogspot.com

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  20. Lisa, I tried repeatedly to comment on your blog, but it wouldn't post.

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  21. Christina, be sure you invite me to this party!

    Galen, I would never rat you out or look at your dirty laundry. ;-) I've got enough of my own.

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  22. Wow. To only be so popular someday as an author that my book release would merit that much attention. Double wow!

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  23. It's sad that the publishing industry has turned 'Hollywood'. They won't be able to sustain the industry with a few mega-stars and no mid-listers. They have pushed writers into forging their own publishing path, the very thing the big pubs fear.

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  24. You don't have to be a megastar to do a big book launch. I've seen other authors do it, even self-pubbed authors.

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  25. I hadn't read about Brown's launch party until now. Wow. Talk about living the dream.

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  26. A friend gave me "The lost symbol" to read (I never went to see one of his movie adaptions) and I found it boring and badly researched, full of false historical connections and too obvious secrets. In other words, I did not finish it. But I LOVE good books which make me think, even if an unfamous author only sold 100 copies! If any of you can recommend such a book to me, I`ll be happy to buy it!!

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  27. wow, book heaven.. with parties.
    Just walking into a bookstore gives me a high. We don't have such parties here much(very rare)not for adults at least. I pick books by their subjects and genres ..not so much by author.
    Enjoy
    BM

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  28. I sure wish they had book parties and signing around here! Living in the middle of nowhere has so many drawbacks.... lol

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  29. I suppose I'm a contrarian of sorts. I then to get my back up when bombarded with overdone hype. And I also tend to be put off by gratuitous displays of excess. I liked Angles and Demons (except for the helicopter thing) and thoroughly enjoyed The Da Vinci Code. But I'm in no hurry to rush out and get The Lost Symbol. I read the others as paperbacks and will do the same with Lost Symbol. It would be nice if they spent some of that money on their midlisters.

    Sorry to be such a downer. It's late.
    ~jon

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