• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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The Best Things In Life Are Free

Last week a non-fiction proposal sold for a small fortune. Everyone was talking about it for a few days, the manuscript electronically zinging all over town. I wondered what would stop someone from publishing it electronically? It made me think of my first bootleg album, Patti Smith, of course. I loved how illicit it felt, the raw production values, the cheap cardboard sleeve it came in. Of course, it never occurred to me then that she was being cheated of her fair share of royalty. Now that I’m an agent I think about these things, especially as books are next.

What made this particular book so hotly contested? It’s controversial, for starters. Exhibitionistic even. And the idea at the heart of it is something that people are both curious about and invested in. The author also has what’s known as an impressive pedigree. But it’s more than that: whether or not you like what he has to say, he touches a chord. You have to touch a chord. Unfortunately for me, whenever I think of touching a chord, the next thing I think about is touching the third rail.

Who will your book appeal to? Does it touch a nerve?

46 Responses

  1. Anyone who feels like a motherless child, disenfranchized, without pedigree, a stray.

  2. Young folks whose parents always say, “You don’t have any problems, compared to me you’ve got it easy,” when no one has it easy, when every generation is lost.

  3. Self-loathers of dubious pedigree and schadenfreude enthusiasts the world over.

  4. White collar men one generation removed from a trailer park who secretly worry they are committing the child-rearing sins of their fathers.

  5. Kids who are raised by religious parents and don’t know which laws should be kept and which can be broken.

  6. a bunch of expats who exist between worlds. who have lost their way through a series of small decisions. they’re promiscuous, drink heavily, and treat each other poorly.

  7. elfs.

    not really. my audience is for broken people who can admit they’re broken and learn to appreciate whatever is broke about them.

    and not that this has anything to do with your question, but your anecdote and the picture only makes me want to tell everyone in the world to go read Just Kids.

  8. Perhaps no one? *sigh* Or absolutely EVERYONE! Yes, that’s my answer.

  9. The children of egocentric, hypocritical parents. “The end justifies the means” people.

  10. Wow. I want to read ALL these present or potential books. My own included. Sigh.

  11. I thought women would be my biggest market because they would be drawn to the relationships between the female characters and the overall literary feel. But after sharing a few chapters, apparently men are also interested because they like the brutality of the war and the suspense of the main plot line. Go figure. Historical fiction fans. The historical content is correct. Readers felt they were learning about a fresh topic. Finns. There are two schools: the people who are impressed that a foreigner came into their midst, learned the language, culture and history and then wrote a novel about it. These people can’t wait to read about themselves. Then there are the challengers who will buy it so they can try to find something wrong with it and call me out on it. Bring it on! But we’ll see how this market research plays out in the real world. After encouragement from an American editor I’ve declined a publisher here. Hopefully, a US agent will agree with her and find me a market.

    I hope it touches on a lot of nerves. Survival, maternal love, guilt, our capacity for good and evil, and mainly – what is the greater good and what is the real sacrifice to maintain it?

  12. Betsy, I’ve been using your posts as a jumping off point to write a daily journal. I’ve never cared much for writing prompts but these have been great in getting the creativity flowing. Maybe because they help me tap into things I haven’t thought about for a while. In case you’re wondering – I know you don’t handle fiction. So I’m not just being a kiss ass. Thanks.

  13. My book will appeal to optimistic and fun-loving, successful, happily married incredibly cute left-handed WASPs with Summer homes in the South of France.

    Sure, it might lack “nerve”, and misery, and controversy, but it’s got lots of Faberge!

    (I’m shallow, and contrarian, and I like shiny things.)

    • Vivian’s back!

    • Dang it Vivian, I thought that was gonna be me. But all I’ve got is:
      ” . . . married . . . left-handed . . . . in . . . France.” (Perhaps “cute” on a good day, and I guess I’m technically a WASP, but being from Oklahoma rather than Connecticut, I’m not sure I count.)

  14. Anyone who’s life has been affected, in any way, by meth. Particularly women, single mothers and anyone who understands, or doesn’t, what the term “functional addict” means.

  15. I hope penniless WASPs (and non-WASPS) will like my novel. I beat up on the WASP world I grew up in. I know–that’s beating the proverbial dead horse, but I’m having such fun doing it.

  16. My novel will appeal to survivors of the Haight Ashbury, children whose parents did not survive the Haight Ashbury, and anyone who has ever been obsessed with either kinky sex or the healing power of nature.

  17. Brilliant people everywhere. Of course.

  18. Spiritual voyeurs. Regular voyeurs. Masochists. Losers in love and life. Escapists. Prose sensualists (not sure what I mean by that but it sounds right). Fed-up philosophers. Social scientists. Alcoholics and drug addicts. Strippers and ex-strippers and sluts (oh my!).

    • Hey Tulasi, saw an incense today with the brand-name Tulasi and thought of you. I think my novel will appeal to the same folks as yours. We should do a reading together and invite all the commenters. Mine will strike a nerve with fundamentalists of all kinds, religious and otherwise.

  19. What a fascinating thread this is, I love seeing what everyone here is working on. My book will appeal to young women and anyone who has ever had a transformative experience- good or bad – while living abroad.

  20. I’m not sure how many clinical psychologists and psychiatrists there are, but that seems to be the sum total market of all of the stuff above. Exception being Trickybastard, but I’m not to sure how big the “Brilliant People” market is either.

    Good God, people, get over yourselves and get a life, then maybe you can write a book somebody wants to read.

    Over and out.

    • I think someone may have touched a nerve here.

    • Yikes. Who invited the fun burglar?

    • Welcome to the human race, Bill. Hostile much? There are books (and shrinks) for that, too.

    • “Brilliant People” market. I get it. That’s pretty funny Bill! Especially when you aren’t *to* sure about it. Have to say I’m in total agreement with you on that one.

    • Oh, sorry Bill! We should all market our books to you — oops! I amend my life for Bill. I’ll be writing hacky spy thrillers for depressed lonely middle-aged men with unshaven beards and beer bellies who are made so miserable by their own lives on a daily basis that the only thing they can do to feel briefly remotely better about themselves is cut down people’s hopes and dreams in blog comments. 😉 What a card! (Incidentally, books like The Catcher in the Rye, Franny, Zooey, Swann’s Way, Disgrace, The Year of Magical Thinking, My Antonia, Look Homeward, Angel, and so on and so forth … not to mention the poems of Eliot, Bishop, Frost, Creeley, Wordsworth, and the list goes on … were written for a thoughtful, feeling, introspective, often wounded demographic … and I think “somebody wants to read” those books/poems … according to history. You dunderhead.)

      • Quite right Sarah. We have PLENTY of publishers out there who can cut down our hopes and dreams for us thankyouverymuch!

    • Oh, Bill. Sigh.

    • My dog sometimes acts like this for no good reason either… Just all of a sudden starts to growl at everyone in the house… grrr…grrr…. Bill! Go sit down! Be good!

  21. Curious what Bill’s market is. I’d guess it’s a bit less today.

  22. Well, at the risk of Bill coming along and telling me I “need to get over myself” (because he knows everything, right?) here’s mine:

    If you can imagine what it was like having parents whose greatest thrill was going on vacations to visit other Holocaust Survivors all across the country so they could sit and cry for hours over all the misery in the world while their children stuck to plastic-covered sofas, then you can imagine what my childhood was like. The people who might want to read how funny and horrific that was will want to read my book.

  23. Triathlon for soccer moms +.

  24. Oh shit, I have to write a book?
    I thought I could just hang out here and read.

    P.S. Bill — you little Simon Cowell, tell us more.

  25. My latest novel will be released in a few weeks. Hopefully, it will appeal to kids and adults who like funny/tender coming-of-age books that include overcoming rotten childhoods, confronting bullies and bigots, and dealing with crazy relatives in a time when people still drove DeSotos.

  26. My work-in-progress would appeal to anyone who has longed for one more chance to make things right, to become at peace with their inner Bill.

  27. – Teenage historical fiction fans

    – Teens who like a good life-or-death story

    – Parents of teens who want to enrich their school study of WWII and the Holocaust

    – Parents of homeschooled teens who want to enrich their kids’ home study of same

    – Adults who read YA because it often has more gut-level human issues directly and compellingly expressed than much fiction for adults does, and who like good writing.

  28. I’m writing a memoir, and some days I feel like my target audience is “people who are going to hate me after they read this book.”

    It’s commendably large.

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