Penguin's 'Electronic Slush Pile' Pays Off; Elton John Writing His First Book

Today in books: Penguin signs its first writer off their "electronic slush pile", nine Chinese authors are suing Apple for copyright infringement, and Tiger Woods' former swing coach has written a non tell-all book about the golfer.

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Today in publishing and literature: Penguin signs its first writer off their "electronic slush pile", a strong review for Jodi Kantor's book The Obamas, nine Chinese authors are suing Apple for copyright infringement, and Tiger Woods' former swing coach has written a non tell-all book about the golfer.

Penguin has signed a first-time novelist named Kerry Schafer to a two-book deal, just weeks after Schafer posted her writing samples on,  the "electronic slush pile" that the publishing house created last year in the hopes of spotting new talent. Last spring, Schafer published excerpts from a novel about "geriatric vampires in a nursing home" that was well-received by  the site's commenters who provide feedback to their peers, but didn't generate enthusiasm from publishers or agents. She tried again in November and posted chapters from a new book Between, which Media Decoder describes as a fantasy about "a woman named Vivian who must destroy a powerful sorceress." The excerpts caught the eye of literary agent  Deidre Knight, who took Schafer on as a client and "within weeks" had secured a  two-book deal for her with Ace Books, a Penguin imprint. Schafer says she's already in the early stages of writing the second book, which is called Wakeworld.  [Media Decoder]

This is quite rich: nine Chinese authors --including notable names like Han Han,  Li Chengpeng, Cang Yue, and Murong Xuecun -- are suing Apple for 11.9 million Yuan -- about $1.9 million -- for alleged copyright infringement. They claim 37 of their texts can be downloaded illegally through the App Store. Reuters notes that the lawsuit was filed "under the mantle of the China Written Works Copyright Society (CWWCS)" which has spearheaded similar lawsuits in recent years against the digital editions of books provided by Google and Baidu.   [The Next Web via TeleRead]

New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor, who covered the Obamas for the paper during the 2008 presidential campaign, has a new book about the first couple out this week, called The Obamas. Kantor's paper had nothing but good things to say about the book in a review by syndicated columnist  Connie Schultz, who praises Kantor for having written "the first book about the Obama presidency to give Michelle Obama her due," while also providing the type of "gossipy tidbits that fuel a narrative." Historians and political junkies will undoubtedly be intrigued to read about the amount of influence the First Lady has over the president and his administration. For example, when Obama's approval ratings were sinking after taking office, Michelle Obama pushed her husband to  "alter wonky speeches with personal stories that could close the distance between cool-headed him and a suffering public." Also, she's portrayed to be "the driving force behind an eventual staff shake-up that led to the departure of senior advisers after Scott Brown won Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts." The lost cost Democrats their supermajority in the senate, and left the First Lady "furious with the president, and his staff, whom she saw as insular and disorganized, and failing to prepare for the worst possible outcomes."    [The New York Times]

Hodder & Stoughton has acquired the rights to Elton John's first book Love Is the Cure, which will not be a rollicking tell-all, rock-and-roll memoir. Instead, the book description promises it will tell "the very personal story of Sir Elton's life during the AIDS epidemic." The book is slated to be published in July, with a release date designed to coincide with the 2012 XIX International AIDS Conference. [The Bookseller]

Hank Haney, who was Tiger Woods' swing coach for six years before being fired prior to the 2010 Masters, has written a memoir about his time working for the golfer, which Crown Archetype plans to release at the end of March. Unlike many close to Woods, Haney was able to write the book because the golfer never asked him to sign a sweeping confidentiality agreement. But from the sound of things, the book doesn't sound like it will be telling all about Tiger's string of affairs. The AP reports that Haney's book "doesn't delve into that chapter of Woods' life in the book, except for his return from the scandal after going nearly five months without competition" with the author apparently much more focused on bringing readers inside information about golfer's swing and practice habits. [AP]

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