A HarperStudio Update

The team at HarperStudio had great run from April 2008 – April 2010 and published several New York Times bestsellers, including The 50th Law, Heroes for My Son, Crush it!, Emeril at the Grill, and Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.

Here is a quick update on where we’ve moved:

Bob Miller is currently Group Publisher at Workman Publishing.

Debbie Stier is the Director of Digital Marketing of HarperCollins and continues to edit the books she acquired at HarperStudio. She is currently working with Gary Vaynerchuk, Melanie Notkin, Baratunde Thurston, and Jill Kargman, among others.

Julia Cheiffetz is currently a Senior Editor at the Harper imprint under Jonathan Burnham where she continues to acquire and edit narrative nonfiction and the occasional novel. Some of the authors she is currently working with include Stanley Fish, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Harold Bloom, Greg Graffin, Jessica Valenti, Erica Jong, Divya Gugnani, Christopher Stewart, Rolling Stone magazine, Nina Sankovitch and Choire Sicha. She recently published the New York Times bestseller 5th Avenue, 5 AM by Sam Wasson.

Jessica Wiener is currently Director of Marketing at Workman Publishing.

Katie Salisbury is an Assistant Editor at Harper and continues to work closely with Julia. She is currently looking to acquire nonfiction titles.

Kathryn Ratcliffe-Lee continues to work closely with Debbie.

Below is the HarperCollins memo about the close.
HarperStudio to Close: HarperCollins’ Memo

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HEROES FOR MY SON Hits the List!

Congratulations to Brad Meltzer, whose new book Heroes for My Son will hit the New York Times Best Seller list next Sunday at #2!

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Bad Religion in Hollywood

Bad Religion rocks out in Hollywood last night

To read more about Greg Graffin’s book Anarchy Evolution click here

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Ingrid & Isabella

Line Break

A photo of a young Isabella Rossellini with her mother, Ingrid Bergman, discovered by fellow HarperStudio author Sam Wasson.

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My Impressions of SXSW 2010 – Think Chatroulette IRL

Baratunde Thurston dancing at SXSW, photo by Anthony De Rosa

Ok, first of all, can I just say, I think that was my all time favorite conference. Ever.

Yes, I know it was overwhelmingly huge, and people are saying this and that cranky thing about it (I’m ignoring) – but to me, it was thousands of super interesting, innovative people in every nook and cranny and there was absolutely no way to go wrong if you’re open to meeting new people.

I inadvertently wandered around on day 1 “alone” – which turned out to be a blessing I tried to repeat every day thereafter. Think Chatroulette in real life and you get the picture of what my days were like.

I’d spent the plane ride carefully orchestrating a “schedule” on my iPhone – but somehow, it all fell apart when I arrived at the check-in. I short-circuited in the face of all the options and resorted to paper printouts of emails, much to the embarrassment of my friends. A few hours in, I ran into Baratunde and he told me to put the schedule away and just wander around. That turned out to be the best advice.

Below are my agenda-less impressions:

  • Douglas Rushkoff is AWESOME despite the fact that he said that books are over because the publishing process takes so long. He gave a talk called The 10 Commandments for a Digital Age and there were so many profound moments I’m not even going to try to sum it up. Just be sure to watch the video.
  • Everyone’s a “Content Strategist” at SXSW 2010. It’s like being named “Michael.”
  • Jeff Pulver’s 140 party was amazing – and not only because I got to meet (and be live streamed) by my internet crush, Leo Laporte. The place was beautiful and the vibe was great.
  • I saw Danah Boyd speak and am happy to report that she fully recovered from the Web 2.0 fiasco. Thank God. I think it was the dress.
  • Gowalla seemed to gain major traction. I heard a lot of people saying they like it better than Foursquare. Honestly, I never fully bonded with the whole “check in” concept, but I have to say, it was useful to know where people were, especially at night when you were done with dinner and wanted to know what was going on. I still can’t imagine “checking in” during my daily life (unless there’s a worthwhile prize – and a “badge” saying I’m the mayor does not motivate me) — but I get it.
  • Leah Jones is amazing. She put together her second annual dinner. It was a private room full of people who didn’t know each other and it still brings a smile to my face when I think about it. Highlight of the evening was realizing that the Stacey who was sitting two people away from me was “Stacey Monk” of #TwitterKids fame.
  • I just have to say it one more time, I ♥ SXSW.
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Go Ahead, Ask

Click HERE if you want to ask us a question and read the full Q & A.

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Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin Talks About His Forthcoming Book and Tour

You know a book is good when you dream about it. The other night I dreamt about Greg Graffin, whose book on science and religion called Anarchy Evolution (October 5, 2010) we’re publishing this fall to coincide with Bad Religion’s 30 year anniversary tour. In my dream I imagined Greg as a boy sitting in science class. I imagined the graduated cylinders on everyone’s desk and the teacher wearing a mustard colored dress. I’ll let you conjure your own image from Greg’s words:

“I’ve always had a problem with authority. When I was in the third grade at Lake Bluff Elementary School just outside Milwaukee, my teacher, Wanda Rood, knew that I hated to be called by my full name, Gregory. I have always been Greg to my family and friends, and whenever Miss Rood called me Gregory to humiliate or intimidate me, I shook with fury.

Finally, one day when I was talking too much to my friends, Miss Rood said, ‘Gregory, do you have something to say to us all?’ I replied, ‘Don’t call me Gregory, Wanda.’”

Here Greg and I talk about his book and tour. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this project. MUCH more to come:

1. When you started Bad Religion at the age of 15, did you ever imagine the band would be around for 30 years?

As a 15 year old, I didn’t even imagine where I would be in three years, so thirty years was inconceivable. The band started out as a channel for rebelliousness. We were creative non-conformists who relished provocation. We didn’t think there would be much of a future in that.

2. Why do you think your band has had such staying power?

Scientific knowledge has staying power and punk shares certain qualities with science, in particular, challenging dogma. Without the overturning of prior theories, science can’t progress. This was immediately appealing to me as a teenager, as it still is.

3. You write in the book that as a teenager, science kind of saved you. What do you mean by that?

Through my early reading in evolutionary biology and geology, the world began to make sense. I could answer the “big picture” questions that were lacking from my a-religious upbringing. I was never taught about the stories in The Bible. Science offered a fantastical narrative from which I forged my songwriting career, which also began in my teens.

4. What’s the best part about touring?

Visiting antiquarian bookshops all over the world. I spend more money on foreign postage sending books home from tour than I do on meals.

5. Will you promote the book during your tour? (Fans: pre-order here!)

I would like to meet as many people as possible who are interested in evolution and the worldview they take from it. For that reason, I hope to appear in many bookstores, coffee shops, and speaking venues on the same days that we play concerts in cities all over the world. What a privilege, talk about the issues during the day, sing about them at night. It’s a dream come true!

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Red Carpet Redux

When we found out that Sam Wasson, author of Fifth Avenue, 5 AM, was invited to attend this year’s Academy Awards, we turned green with envy. But since we couldn’t be there ourselves, Sam was gracious enough to give us the scoop on the night’s festivities.

Q: What did you think of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as hosts? Dynamic duo or awkward pairing?

A: What’s not to love? Though they did seem under rehearsed and under used, more like mascots than actual hosts. I mean where were they when we needed them most, during the Ben Stiller incident and that horrific horror montage? The host or hosts have the responsibility of making the show feel like an actual event as opposed to a series of loosely connected episodes. This year, the Oscars didn’t have that.

Q: What were your Oscar award predictions and how did they play out? Do you think the usual Oscar award “politics” were at play this year?

A: My Oscar predictions played out pretty much as I thought with the exception of Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Foreign Film. I know it’s become fashionable to put down on Jason Reitman, but I thought he (and his collaborators) wrote a terrific script, and were very clever about when and how much they delivered on genre. The Academy loves an 80% old-fashioned movie, and that’s just what Up in the Air is. I can’t say I was that surprised to see Sandra Bullock win the Oscar for Best Actress, considering the Academy’s penchant for honorably discharging Meryl Streep. I never thought I’d say this about the greatest living actress, but I’m actually beginning to feel sorry for her. Julia Child was far from her best, but it was leagues ahead of the others. And finally, I was shocked out of my cummerbund when The White Ribbon lost Best Foreign Film. It was the strongest in the category, and it had all the momentum a winning film could have. Were politics at play? Absolutely. No matter what Mo’Nique says.

Q: Hurt Locker vs. Avatar. The underdog basically stole the show this year. Was the Best Picture win a triumph of story and direction over special effects and beautiful cinematography?

A: The Best Picture win was a triumph of many, many things, aesthetic and otherwise, the most significant of which, as everyone knows, is Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman ever to win a Best Director Oscar. But I wouldn’t call either of them an underdog. Both films showcased mind-blowing feats of direction, and both were beautifully shot (though I’m still uncertain about how cinematography fits into Avatar’s largely CGI universe), and well received. The underdog – and to my mind the best picture of the year – was The Coen Brothers’ film, A Serious Man.

Q: The Oscars featured a moving tribute to the films of John Hughes. What do you think it is about his movies that people love so much?

A: John Hughes respected his characters. More than that, he got to the strangeness of being young, and – here’s the feat – he made it relatable. No matter what, Hughes took all of his people seriously, and that, when dealing with teenagers – who are so often marginalized in cinema as well as life – is a wonderful, wonderful thing. He also understood the many kinds of teenagers from the jock to the nerd to the hot girl and onward, types everyone could relate to. It gave his films immediacy. But rather than paint them with broad strokes, Hughes always gave his characters a touch of contradiction or darkness or unforeseen humor that helped them to defy the limitations of their type. That right there is so much of what his films (and growing up) are (is) about: breaking type. People love his films because no matter who they are, Hughes loved them. And when you’re fifteen or sixteen, falling in love, out of love, scared, or alone, that’s no small thing.

Q: Who were the best dressed? Worst dressed? Did you get a swag bag? Who did you get to schmooze with after the show?

A: Sandra Bullock knocked my socks off. If only we had met later, she might have knocked off even more. And Vera Farmiga! VERA! FARMIGA! Holy Mackerel! She looked like a present I wanted to give myself over and over again. After the show, I got to schmooze with the liveliest bunch of rascals in the room, the editors and the documentarians. (Word of advice: at awards shows, always hang out with the editors and the documentarians. Actors are distracted by other people, directors are distracted by themselves, and writers are distracted by the buffet, but editors and the doc-makers are always present. Along with cinematographers, they see the bigger picture.) I quite literally bypassed Charlize on my way to Lynne Littman, Rob Epstein, Richard Pearce, Lynzee Kingman, and Mark Goldblatt. I got no swag. Only the happiest hangover of my life.

Read more about the Oscar’s on Sam Wasson’s blog. His book Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman will publish in July 2010.

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Are You The Peanut Butter?

I heard Brad Inman give a speech at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference, and he said trying to get stuff done in book publishing is like trying to swim through a jar of peanut butter. I nearly stood up and screamed “EXACTLY!” I have had the good fortune to work with a lot of entrepreneurs and tech people, and they are doing circles around my publishing colleagues because they don’t put up the roadblocks and draw the lines in the sand. If I had to guess, the peanut butter people have no idea what that means.

Here are 10 signs you might be……….The Peanut Butter:

1) You can’t think of anything to show for your work in the last six months.

2) You think your job is to prevent mistakes from being made.

3) You believe that the more people invited to a meeting, the more successful the meeting will be.

4) Meetings take months to schedule.

5) You would rather be “politically correct” and “cc everyone” than make something great happen.

6) You’re paralyzed by the concept of “scalable.”

7) You think you have the upper hand in nearly all business dealings , but deep down inside, in those quiet moments late at night, you know you’re losing “control.”

8 ) You resort to bullying tactics to get your way without ever considering what might benefit everyone.

9) You spend your days trying to figure out how to gain control.

10) You’re an information hoarder.

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I Have A Good Friend Who’s a Twitterer And He Says He Hasn’t Written Anything for a Year

From Dave Eggers Interview in The Guardian:

At home, where he writes, he no longer has internet access. A four-month stint with wi-fi proved “deadly” for his productivity and having no access at all ensures that he is not tempted to “look at Kajagoogoo videos and old ads for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum” on YouTube. “Writing is a deep-sea dive. You need hours just to get into it: down, down, down. If you’re called back to the surface every couple of minutes by an email, you can’t ever get back down. I have a great friend who became a Twitterer and he says he hasn’t written anything for a year.

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