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Friday, April 29, 2005

Judging A Book By Its Coverage

Pranay Gupte writes in the New York Sun about 17-year-old Kaavya Vishwanathan's two-book deal with Little Brown & Co, for a sum that "approached $50,000". The first book, tentatively titled How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got In, is expected next spring.

What's significant about the report is how the deal was struck. Ms Vishwanathan of Hackensack, who's on her way to Harvard University, was enrolled in Dr Katherine Cohen's IvyWise, a service that prepares students for college admissions. Upon hearing of her novel-in-progress, the good doctor Cohen asked to see a sample.

The article continues: " 'I was so charmed by what I read,' Ms. Cohen said. 'I immediately sensed that here was a star in the making. So I called my own agent at William Morris, Suzanne Gluck, and told her about Kaavya.'
Ms. Gluck showed the manuscript to Ms. Walsh, who handles fiction at the agency. She was impressed and shopped it around, and Little, Brown offered the highest advance. Ms. Viswanathan was the youngest writer the agency had taken on in its 109-year history."

Now, this is almost certainly the green-eyed monster on one's shoulder talking, but one can't help thinking that it's the network of contacts, backed by the name of Harvard, that's swung things. What if the putative author had sent the unfinished manuscript directly to an agent? "Dear Ms Vishwa-whatever, we regret to inform you that your manuscript doesn't meet with our requirements at present, but we wish you all the best in your writing career."

C'est la vie. Let's hope the final book proves me wrong with its staggering insights into second-generation immigrants and their attempts to fit in.

(Plagiarism update here.)


  • Proved right? I guess she will still make money on Oprah shows, public tearful apologies and such like. I do not feel sorry for her, but just thankful..but for the grace of god and all

    By Anonymous K, at 3:48 PM  

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