Book Buzz || Korean Beauty, Pop Word Ethnography, 2 of my Fav Food Blogs

Every weekday, Publisher’s Marketplace emails the latest publishing deals in print, digital, audio and foreign sales (over 200 deals/week). Here are some of my favs -- not necessarily the biggest names or the buzziest deal… but the ones that piqued my interest for one reason or another.

Agent: Andrew Blauner at Blauner Books Literary Agency
Editor: Tracy Carns at Overlook
Description: A specialist in treatment-resistant depression confronts her personal demons including a life-defining tragedy involving her talented graffiti-artist brother when her past is made present by the struggles of one of her patients.

Amy Koppelman is one of those breeds I admire: a novelist and screenwriter (others off the top of my head: Gillian Flynn, Graham Moore). Here’s an article about her screenwriting process. Also, I’m drawn to Koppelman’s writing style, which Publishers Weekly described as “understated and crackling; each sentence is laden with a foreboding sense of menace”.

THE BLUE BATH by Mary Waters-Sayer
Agent: Susan Golumb at Writers House
Editor: Elizabeth Beier at St. Martin’s
Description: Twenty years after a romantic love affair with a young painter during a student year in Paris, a woman, now married to a wildly successful but beleaguered entrepreneur, goes to a gallery opening to discover that her Paris lover has spent the last two decades continuing to paint her.

JUICY. This reminds me a bit of Courtney Maum’s I’M HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU in that it’s about a stressed marriage set in the Parisian art world. Also makes me think of my own romantic love affairs… if someone was using you as a muse two decades after the fact, would you be more freaked out or flattered?

THE THRIFTY TIME TRAVELER’S GUIDE by Jonathan Stokes (middle-grade)
Agent: Brianne Johnson at Writers House
Editor: Leila Sales at Viking Children’s
Description: A future time travel agency puts together affordable vacation packages to history's biggest events such as Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, and WWII.

This sounds just so delightful. Also, another novelist/screenwriter.

Agent: Alexandra Machinist at ICM
Editor: Laura Tisdel at Little, Brown
Description: A funny and informative investigation into the complex relationship between women and their spouses, weaving together research that correlates parenthood and marital disharmony and the author's personal experience as a floundering new mom and suddenly dissatisfied wife whose marriage becomes the testing ground for couples therapies.

Girl crush alert. Let’s review Jancee Dunn’s career: MTV VJ, GQ sex columnist, Rolling Stone writer with 20 cover stories, O, The Oprah Magazine ethics columnist, GMA correspondent, memoirist, novelist, award-winning humor writer, and co-writer of Cyndi Lauper’s memoir. I’m not married and I don’t have kids, but this books sounds so relevant and I'm just in awe of Jancee.

Agent: Jonah Straus at Straus Literary
Editor: Dervia Kelly at Rodale
Description: A book of stories and recipes that will draw on her Chinese and Jewish heritage ...her new chosen life on a farm in...Grand Forks, North Dakota, with her husband, a fifth-generation Norwegian-American sugar beet farmer, including the cross-cultural dishes that have helped her adapt to her new environment, such as scallion sesame challah, Chinese hotdish, quinoa carbonara, sweet potato lefse, marzipan mandel bread, and rosemary funfetti cakes

I’m somewhat new to Molly blog, but I’m hooked. And those dishes! So unusual and evocative. Can’t wait for this book to come out (generally as a food lover and also as a Chinese person who's always game for a culinary culture clash).

Agents: David Kuhn and Nicole Tourtelot at Kuhn Projects
Editor: Shannon Welch at Scribner
Description: An ingredient-driven guide to great food for impatient people

Another exciting cookbook from another great blog. What I love about Impatient Foodie is that the recipes are simplified (but not dumbed down) and it shows how cooking is actually quite flexible. Forgot butter and cream? Use coconut oil. Didn’t roll the egg omelette right? Whatever, you’re just snacking-as-you’re-cooking anyway. There's a spirit of experimentation and modesty that I find appealing (and relatable).  

Kerry Thompson

Kerry Thompson

Agent: Natasha Alexis of Chalberg & Sussman
Editor: Alexandra Hess of Skyhorse
Description: The ultimate guide to Korean skincare and makeup featuring photography, tutorials, and insight into the trendsetting culture of Korean beauty.

The older I get, the more I can appreciate a subtler look and beauty that comes from self-care (hydration, massage, exfoliation, high-quality creams) rather than makeup-as-paint.

WORD DROPS by Paul Jones
Agent: Andrew Lownie at Andrew Lownie Literary Agency
Editor: John Byram at University of Mexico Press
Description: A sprinkling of literary curiosities, a chain of 1,000 words...creating a fact-by-fact journey through the dictionary and the languages of the world from aardvark (which means 'earth-pig' in Afrikaans) to zenzizenzizenzic (a number raised to its eighth power).

Trivia plus words plus pop ethnography. Can’t get enough of these types of books.

THE MANUSCRIPT: Why Some Books Sell a Million Copies by Jodie Archer and Matthew Jockers
Agent: Don Fehr at Trident Media Group
Editor: Daniela Rapp at St. Martin’s
Description:  Drawing on big data and computer analytics (including BookLamp data) to explain the world of major blockbuster publishing, pitched as MONEYBALL for book publishing, showing that major bestsellers are not black swans, but rather that they can be explained and predicted with 97 percent certainty (following Archer's doctoral thesis "Reading the Bestseller: An Analysis of 20,000 Novels")  

Hm. Hmmmmmm. I went to read this dissertation on ProQuest, but it’s not available because of impending book publication. Smart.

Anyway, my gut feeling is that you can’t quantify or optimize art. Anything that was cooked up by data scientists would be cold and mechanical, even if catchy (I’m thinking of pop songs that are engineered to be audio junk food: the right mix of sugar, fat and salt).

But then again, writing is a functional art. Unlike painting or sculpture, it must have inherent integrity. Typography must be legible. Architecture must be livable. Cooking must be edible. Writing -- good pieces that take you somewhere and aren’t self-involved mood or vanity pieces -- is governed by real rules. And maybe… there are subtle rules that all the bestselling books follow. And maybe… if you follow those rules you’ll be more commercially successful (whether it’s better art is probably impossible to say). 

What do you think of "MONEYBALL for book publishing"?