Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Count Your Shekels

By Paul
Let’s pick up Patty’s thread of yesterday: publishers who exaggerate the sales of best-selling authors. Patty used the example of Clive Cussler who is in serious litigation with the producers of the horrendous movie “Sahara.” The movie was adapted from old Cuss's potboiler novel of the same name, despite the story being about the search for a sunken ironclad vessel from the Civil War.

(I happened to watch “Sahara,” but only because Penelope Cruz co-starred. And I watched every idiotic minute, despite the fact she remained fully clothed. Sorry. I do Ms. Cruz an injustice for that sexist remark, which Jim Born suggested. Penelope Cruz is a terrific actress, and if you haven’t seen “Volver,” for which Ms. Cruz is nominated for an Oscar, do! The movie is warm and sweet and funny and if you don't enjoy it, Jim Born will give you back your money, popcorn included.)

But I digress. Before you think that this post is nothing but a shameless attempt to post provocative photos of Penelope Cruz, let's get back to the issue Patty raised.

Book sales numbers. There is a converse problem here. (Note to Jim Born. “Converse” is not a brand of sneakers. It means “opposite” or “contrary.”)

I speak of foreign publishers whom many authors believe are robbing them blind! It’s a widely held belief that you can’t get a fair shake on foreign sales, and it’s way too complicated and expensive to do an accounting in...say Bulgaria...where we recently sold “Solomon vs. Lord.” Who’s going to go over their books? Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom? Borat?


I’ve had books translated into more than 20 languages and have never gotten a kroner, mark, peso, yen, or shekel in royalties. (Yes, I’ve sold books to Israel, too. Not a matzoh crumb in royalties).

Sure, I’ve gotten advances from foreign publishes on all those books, but never has one been shown to have recorded a profit, i.e., earned back the advance.

But all this is about to change. My new publisher in Germany, Heyne, is renowned for creative covers, excellent promotion, and integrity. The publisher has retained the blurbs I wheedled from big-name authors:

"Ein sexy, skurriler, wunderbarer Roman mit Humor und Herz." ---Harlan Coben

They've also changed the title. "Solomon vs. Lord" is now “Liebe Lebenslanglich,” ("Everlasting Love"), which I trust is satirical. (As you know, the Germans are famous for their thigh-slapping humor).”

Wait a second! Who the heck is “Polly Levine?”

Ah, they tell me that these sort of books (sex, murder, laughs) sell mainly to women, who in turn, respond better to women authors. I agree. Would you be interested in "Gone With the Wind" by Philip Roth? I don't think so.

So I suggested the nom de plume, "Renee DePres." (Note to Jim Born. "Nom de plume" is Hebrew for "Please, no more prunes.") "Renee DePres" was rejected as too weird, despite it being my wife's actual name. *********************************************************************************


Surprise, our "Idiot of the Week" hails from the Bush Administration. He’s Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. After the United Nations released its report on global warming, announcing in effect that the human race is poisoning the planet and Iowa would soon have beaches on the Pacific Ocean, Bodman said: “The United States is a small contributor when you look at the rest of the world.”

Well, true, sort of. We only contribute 25% of the greenhouse gases. But then, we only have 4.5% of the world’s population.

Welcome to the Bush World of Truth, where last week the Vice President told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that we have had “tremendous successes in Iraq.”


Who’s the only person to ever win an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy, and an Edgar? The first person to answer correctly wins the next $1 million in counterfeit currency confiscated by Special Agent James O. Born.



There is one person in American history –- and quite well known – who was personally acquainted with these two U.S. Presidents, John Quincy Adams (who served from 1825-1829) and Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945). Who's the old codger who lived such a long and full life? Clue: It's not Clive Cussler



  1. Trivia try :
    Sidney Sheldon?

  2. Dear Readers,

    Never EVER read one of our Polly's posts while eating cereal. You will laugh so hard that milk comes out of your nose.

    And, P, you're going to be in so much trouble when Born gets home from work...

  3. Sidney Sheldon met those two ex-Presidents? He didn't look that old.

    Thanks for the Polly Levine story, too. That one's going in my "best of" file.

  4. All in all, I prefer the Penelope Cruz photographs. (Talk about an understatement. I LOVE the second photograph).

    I also really liked the movie "Sahara" but I do admit that my expectations were low. (And my taste is probably questionable anyway. My wife and I watched both "Munich" and "Kill Bill, Vol 1" this weekend and we both liked "Kill Bill" better, although I have noted that they both have "revenge" as their themes. Actually, I'm not sure I really "liked" either one of those movies, but in comparison, I "liked" "Kill Bill" better than "Munich," which was thought-provoking and dull, but whose pace seemed wildly un-Spielberg-like, whereas "Kill Bill" was thoughtless and entertaining if you could stomach all the spurting blood.)

    But I digress.

    I was just wondering who Bush's Energy Secretary was. It used to be Spenser Abraham, from Michigan, under whose guidance the price of gas closed in on $3 a gallon and the entire state of California underwent "rolling blackouts." Nice job, Spenser. For your next job, Ambassador to Iraq!

    Good to know in advance about those royalties from foreign countries, since I've got French translations rights and supposedly German ones pending. Again, maybe this is a case of keeping your expectations low,

    Mark Terry

  5. KILL BILL VOL 1 was fabulous. A total pastiche on grindhouse films, and esp martial arts/Yakuza stuff. Tarantino deliberately had the miniature city and plane sequences shot in Japan, as he hired guys to "re-create" the look of Tokyo (circa 1966) from the air, as seen in WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS-because he liked that look of Japanese monster films- which turned out to be the most expensive aspect of the production. It's a fun film-especially the blood bath at the end battle-it was just too over-the-top to be even real. Like a Batman fight, with gallons of fake blood. The soundtrack was great.All deliberately retro even down to the cheesy lighting,impossible stunts and way it was filmed.

    BUsh-Read an editorial in our local paper, which basically relates the idiotic popularity of AMERICAN IDOL with the Bush administration. That in effect, people are settling for idiots and giving them this bizarre sort of carte blanche so they have something to talk about. It compared watching talentless contestants humiliate themselves on AI was like watching Bush and Cheney humiliate themselves(and the country) with the way they are excecuting the war. He seemed to think it was a society-at-the-moment thing.

    Bob Eggleton

  6. Well, on that bit of trivia, about the Edgar, the Tony, the Oscar and whatever else it was, I absolutely have no idea, but I remember that, when I was nominated for the Edgar (and sitting in that freezing cold ballroom with my teeth chattering), they played an audio from Angela Lansbury, who could not be there to collect the Edgar for Best Television Episode. Now, she's won a raft of Emmys and Tonys, been nominated for an Oscar or two (though not actually won), so she's my closest bet.

    But seeing as Patty is so clever at this sort of thing, I'll go with Sidney Sheldon, especially as he just kicked the proverbial bucket all the way to Bookscan and back!

  7. This is so nice to come home on Tuesday and defend myself. From someone who mispronounces his own last name.

    I do enjoy reading the blog on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays.

    Now if you'll excuse me, a dog just left a Levine in my yard. I have to go clean it up.


  8. You guys are too darn smart, especially anonymous, who is also quick. Jim Born is writing a check made payable to "Anonymous."

    Sheldon won the Oscar for his screenplay "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer," an Emmy for "I Dream of Jeannie," (a show he also created), a Tony for writing the book for the musical "Redhead," and the Edgar for best first novel for "The Naked Face."

    Sheldon died last week at age 89.

  9. OK....he can send my counterfeit cash to my bank on Cayman Islands.....my answer to the second question is: JOE the shoeshine guy on the corner of 17thSt NW at New York Ave...c'mon, more information or the question is too obtuse.....as a wild stab
    ....Oliver Wendell Holmes?

  10. Holy Smokes.

    Final Score, Anonymous 2, Born 0.

    To be precise, the correct answer to the second question is Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. His father, the noted physician, Oliver Wendell Holmes, was a personal friend of President John Quincy Adams. After Adams was out of the White House, he was a frequent visitor to the Holmes home. That's where a very young Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. met the ex-President.

    President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Holmes to the Supreme Court, where he served a long tenure, past 90 years of age. In his old age, he was personally acquainted with President Franklin Roosevelt.

    Well done, Anon.

  11. thanks for the props, Polly.....
    I'll be checking for the check to hit the Caymens.....Jim, how's the clean up in your yard going?

  12. Polly (you realize that from now on you will always be "Polly"): Great post, and I'm glad to know that all those foreign publishers are not just cheating me! Seriosly though, how exciting for you to have a foreign publisher with a marketing plan. Your stock is soaring, buddy.

  13. Well, now I'm confused. According to this site http://tinyurl.com/yqvk3n that would be Peter Stone. Okay, I'll settle for Confederate cash.