The Literary Sequel Problem; Science Fiction From Afar

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Today in publishing and literature: The difficulties of selling a literary sequel, science fiction is alike all over, and Whitney Houston's mother is looking for a book deal.

Five years ago, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall won the Man Booker prize and sold more than 400,000 copies in the United States, not bad for a 500-page novel about political skullduggery in the court of Henry VII with multiple narrators. But the marketing campaign for the upcoming sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, shows the tricky calculus publishers face when promoting a "buzzy literary series." It boils down to whether you consider Bring Up The Bodies the second installment of a burgeoning franchise or a new big book by an acclaimed author. The folks at Henry Holt, at least, are trying to have it both ways, "marketing the book to Wolf Hall fans through print and online ads [and] also courting new readers by pitching the book as a satisfying stand-alone." That's probably sensible, since e-readers have made it easier for latecomers to catch up on a series, and Mantel has already finished writing the third installment.   [The Wall Street Journal]

The Guardian provides a fascinating look at the rise of translated science fiction, which offers proof, to borrow from Rod Serling, that good SciFi is alike all over. From China to Russia to Israel, the genre is being used to voice concerns about the "relentless pace of social change." Standard beliefs throughout the science fiction world include a certainty that technological innovations are changing the world for the better and that capitalism is, at best, a very mixed blessing. [The Guardian]

Recommended Reading

Foreign publishing rights to J.K. Rowling's non-Harry Potter book The Casual Vacancy are selling like Harry Potter books. The book has already been sold to publishers in Spain, Holland, and Germany. [The Bookseller]

Whitney Houston's mother Cissy apparently was in New York this week to pitch a book about her late daughter to publishers. The New York Times notes bidding for the untitled project could "easily go into seven figures," if Houston dishes about her daughter's drug use and rocky relationship with Bobby Brown. But that a pretty if. According to two publishers who attended the meetings at the St. Regis, Houston appeared "reluctant to address her daughter’s death and her drug habit," instead emphasizing how the book would dispel various "lies" about her daughter. [The New York Times]

Finally, if you're still unclear on the details of the "agency model" sales strategy that's a focal point in the Justice Department's lawsuit against publishers, Time has a detailed breakdown of what the practice entails, and also what a modified version of the practice could and should look like. [Time]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.