Registration Opens for Compleat Biographer Conference; Turnout Higher Than Expected
The registration website for the first-ever Compleat
Biographer Conference opened for business on December 15, and biographers from
the United States and other countries have been signing up in droves. The early
registration discount is set to expire on January 20.
conference, which is sponsored by Biographers International Organization
(BIO), will be held at the University of Massachusetts Boston. A stellar line
up of biographers, editors, archivists, foundation officers, and literary
agents will serve on panels and lead workshops.
fee to attend the daylong conference is $195 ($95 for students) and includes
breakfast, lunch, and access to all the panels and workshops as well as the
end-of-day reception, featuring book signings by many biographers.
Additionally, the conference will include a speed-dating
session with agents during which authors without representation will have a
chance to meet one-on-one with an agent and pitch their projects.
learn more about the conference or to register, visit BIO's conference website.
Rampersad to Speak at Levy Center's Annual Conference
Arnold Rampersad, author of biographies of Ralph Ellison,
Langston Hughes, and Jackie Robinson, will be the keynote speaker at the Leon
Levy Center for Biography's second annual conference. The gathering will be held on March 19 at Elebash Recital Hall in the
Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
is a professor emeritus of English at Stanford University. His most recent book,
Ralph Ellison, was widely praised and
is available in a Vintage paperback edition. The first volume of his two-volume
biography of Langston Hughes was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
more information, contact the Levy Center.
With Potential Demise of Kirkus, TBC Makes Plans to Test Prepublication Review Website for Biographies
Beginning in May, TBC tentatively plans to launch a six-month experiment of
publishing prepublication reviews of biographies to fill the hole left by the
demise of Kirkus
. The 76-year-old
reviewing publication that cranked out 5,000 reviews a year announced last
month that it will close its doors. There have been a few rumors that it may be
bought. When TBC went to press, Kirkus
announced it may have found a buyer.
new website will feature reviews modeled on
and Publishers Weekly
will run between five and ten 300- to 400-word reviews a month of forthcoming
biographies two months prior to publication. In addition to being posted on the
website, the reviews will be syndicated to other publications.
reviewers would be paid and required to abide by strict conflict-of-interest
standards similar to those in use by other review media. The reviews would be
published without bylines.
wishing to submit galleys and writers interested in reviewing books should
write to us
Authors Guild and Association of Authors' Representatives Offer to Help Make Sense of E-Book Marketplace
The Authors Guild Foundation and the Association of Authors'
Representatives are putting on a panel discussion about the confusing
developing tale of rights in the e-book market.
year, publishers may find themselves having to choose between treating e-books
as it [sic] would any other format, or as a separate entity," explained Sarah Weinman
in a Daily Finance article
should be required reading for any author.
panel will be moderated by Michael Cader of Publishers Marketplace and will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19, at the Scandinavia
House, 58 Park Avenue, New York City.
- If you are a members of the Authors Guild and wish to attend, please notify the guild.
- If you are not a member of the guild and wish to attend, email us your name by midnight (EST) Sunday, January 10, to reserve a place.
Cheever: A Life Is Best Biography of 2009, According to Critics
Blake Bailey's Cheever:
A Life (Knopf) was the favorite biography of book critics in 2009,
according to a TBC analysis that examined 18 of critics' year-end lists of best
books. Cheever, which the New York Times called
"a definitive, Dickensian rendering of a complete and complicated life,
addictively readable and long overdue," was on half of the critics' lists,
easily outdistancing rival books.
for second were T. J. Stiles's The First
Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Knopf) and Brad Gooch's Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor
(Little, Brown). Tied for third place were Terry Teachout's Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong
(Houghton Mifflin) and Linda Gordon's Dorothea
Lange: A Life Beyond Limits (Norton).
more about these authors, consult these interviews or articles:
TBC compilation included lists from the New
York Times, the Washington Post,the Los Angeles Times,the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today,the
Christian Science Monitor,the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,the Wall
Street Journal, New York Magazine,the
New Yorker, Slate, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist,
Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. In those few cases where the publication had
both a top-10 list and a longer list, we used the shorter one.
Biographer Finds Dividends in Writing a Newsletter
for ways to connect with readers, wanting to share research that might not make
it into the eventual book, or searching for the much-prized "platform" that
publishers endlessly talk about might take a lesson from Diane Diekman.
Author of Live Fast, Love Hard:
The Faron Young Story, published in 2007 by the University of Illinois
Press, Diekman is hard at work on another biography, Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins, expected to
be released in 2012 by the same press.
the fall of 2005, after finishing her work on the Young biography, Diekman
launched a weekly publication, the Faron
Young Biography Newsletter.
had so much good information I wanted to share-most importantly, significant
dates along the lines of, 'This is what Faron was doing 50 years ago this week,'"
Diekman told TBC. She began each issue with an event in Faron's life and discussed
interesting interviews she had completed or websites she had found.
Diekman sent the newsletter to about 40 people; today her distribution list is
more than four hundred, and the content is often picked up
by other websites. By the end of 2007, Live
Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story had been published. "There wasn't
much more to say about Faron. Also, I was writing Twentieth Century Drifter," Diekman
said. So she altered her publication schedule to every two or three weeks and
began to include material about her new subject.
doesn't take much time to put together because I mostly cut and paste from
things I've already written and from letters I receive," she said. "I also keep
each issue short enough to hold a reader's attention."
newsletter has helped Diekman both in marketing and in research. "When I wrote
the marketing plan for my publisher in early 2007, I included sources from
several other countries-all of whom came through email correspondence.
Whenever I have an upcoming appearance or radio interview, I post that
information in advance. Recently, I posted a request for contact information
for three members of the Marty Robbins band I hadn't been able to find. Within
a week, I'd completed telephone interviews with two of them, plus a third I
hadn't known about."
best part of having this newsletter is the ability to 'meet' so many people."
Diekman said. "I can't begin to calculate how many sources I've acquired and
how much more detail I have in my books solely because my readers told me
something. I also now have an archive I can check when searching for a tidbit
of information. An extra special benefit is the thrill of reconnecting friends
from years past who had lost touch-most particularly the musicians who worked
for Faron and Marty."
learn more about Diekman's newsletter, visit her website.
Intelligence Archive Provides Rarely Seen Perspectives on International Politics and World History
Biographers working on contemporary subjects with an
international political bent may want to make use of Readex products, including
its newest one, a digital edition of FBIS Daily Report Annexes, 1974-1996
that will be out early this year. The edition, a complement to FBIS Daily Reports, 1974-1996
more than two decades of international, national, and local perspectives on
such topics as Middle East crises and negotiations, the Soviet withdrawal from
Afghanistan, and the secret acquisition of radar systems by the People's Republic
material was gathered by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily
Report, which was the United States' principal record of political and
historical open-source intelligence for nearly seventy years. The original
mission of the FBIS was to monitor, record, transcribe, and translate
intercepted radio broadcasts from foreign governments, official news services,
and clandestine broadcasts from enemy and occupied territories.
searchable for the first time, FBIS Daily Report Annexes
individual citations for each article as well as highlighted events to assist
student researchers. Like the related FBIS
Daily Reports, FBIS
Daily Report Annexe
s presents views and information from thousands of
monitored broadcasts and publications.
more information, consult the Readex website
Letter to the Editor
love of biographies started young: there was a wonderful series in the library
at Washington Elementary, in Holland, Michigan, where I attended school, of
small (maybe five- by seven-inch), blue, cloth-bound biographies that I would
check out over and over, when I was around seven to ten years old. They were
all illustrated with silhouettes, with approximately twenty illustrations per
book. I read the one on Amelia Earhart at least a dozen times. There was also
one on Clara Barton, and I believe one on Florence Nightingale, among several
other notable women and men.
have scoured dusty children's sections of used bookstores from Seattle to New
York, I have looked online, searching all kinds of terms, and I cannot seem to
find any information on this biography series. I would love to reunite with
them, as I have many fond memories of curling up in couch corners with them.
I'm wondering if any biographers out there are familiar with these books and
know the series name or publisher. I read them in the early '80s, but I believe
they were published earlier.
thanks. I am a reader (and former assistant editor in publishing in New York)
who enjoys biographies and this newsletter very much. Thank you for all your work.
Columbia University School of the
Readers, help Beyer out and send your replies to us.
Amanuensis: A person
whose employment is to write what another dictates, or to copy what another has
written. Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
The distinction between biography and autobiography is
really quite simple: the terms mark the difference between the effort of one
person to get the details of another person's life straight and the effort of
one person to have her say about the kind of life she has led. In the writing
of biography objectivity is both the goal and the standard for the biographer
who stands at a distance from his subject. Autobiographers by definition have
no distance from their subjects; they are in the business of expressing and
revealing themselves, and while objectivity is often something they claim,
failing to make good on that claim will not be regarded as fatal as it would be
for a biographer. Instead it will be regarded as another piece of information
about the personality whose portrait is being painted in words. To put in the
simplest terms, a biographer is saying, "This is the way it was"; an
autobiographer is saying, "This is the way I saw it and remember it." [Read more]
--Stanley Fish, New York
Tips Corner: A Helping Hand in Searching Federal Records
Searching the vast repository of federal records continues
to get easier. One of the newer and better tools is
Footnote.com. Originally launched in 1999 as iArchives, a company that
digitized historical newspapers, Footnote.com provides access more than 6
million documents in the government's hands and elsewhere. A
quick review of its holdings shows that it includes such varied files as
admiralty records from Key West, Apollo missions records, Brady Civil War
photographs, census records, Eastern Cherokee applications, FBI cases, Japanese
air-target analyses, photographs taken during the Coolidge administration,
passport applications files, State Department records, and even handwritten
records for the town of Hancock, New Hampshire, including church records.
can access much of the material with a free-of-charge account, but the enhanced
paid account is a bargain. To learn more about it, visit Footnote.com's website.
the Editor's Desk
I'm calling it the "no reply reply." It's the new, cyberspace
equivalent of the old "don't call us, we'll call you," apparently derived from
the brush-off line given to folks who showed up for casting calls.
years ago, when I set off to promote my previous book, I wrote letters to
historical societies, museums, universities, libraries, and other venues asking
if they might be interested in having me stop by and give a talk. In most cases
I would receive a reply, even if only to decline the offer.
I'm heading out on the road with my current book, this time a biography of a
more recognizable figure. Fascinatingly, the most common response to my
letters this time is silence. I don't want to embarrass any particular institution
or overworked events coordinator, but some of the venues are a natural for this
particular book. It isn't as if I am suggesting a talk about the newest
pulled-pork barbecue recipes to the national vegan convention.
this is not a complaint about my particular situation. I write about it because I
think it may be part of a growing trend. I shared my experience with a friend,
a noted New York magazine editor, and she said she hears about this phenomenon all the
time now. The "no reply reply" has become a standard in email correspondence.
We mused that it could be the result of the overwhelming amount of mail in our
in-boxes and the increasing workload in a recession.
the fact that people don't necessarily reach for that reply button is a sign of
diminishing civility in our new world of electronic correspondence.
you want to write to me about it, I will hit reply. I promise.
This may offend a few readers, but how can I let the January
issue of TBC go to press (or to cyberspace) without mention of the new
biography of Warren Beatty, by Peter Biskind. The author, a longtime Hollywood
writer with impressive credentials, has decided to share with readers his estimate of how many
women his subject has slept with. He used math to make the
calculation, based on information provided in the course of researching this
authorized biography. Biskind's conclusion was that Beatty has had sex with
12,775 women. If the number seems staggering, consider that the author told the paragon
of fact-checking New York Post, "[that] figure does not include daytime quickies, drive-bys, casual gropings,
stolen kisses, and so on."
James McGrath Morris
"A Horatio Alger tale shaded with Shakespearean darkness."
COMING FEB. 9
Preorder your copy at IndieBound
or order a signed copy here.
Sold to Publishers
The following are among the biographies recently sold to publishers, as reported by Publishers Marketplace and other sources.
Pawlak, Bringing Up Oscar: The Men and Women Who Conceived Hollywood's Most
Wanted Man, to Pegasus
and Bob Blumenthal, Saxophone Colossus: A Portrait
of Sonny Rollins, to Abrams
Siklos, untitled account of Michael Jackson's career, to Broadway
Grunenberg, Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, to Indiana University Press
Pope, The Deeds of My Fathers: Generoso Pope, Sr., Power Broker of New York
& Gene Pope, Jr., to Philip Turner Books
Mark Mordue, Tender Prey: The Life and Work
of Nick Cave, to Simon &
Brady, Endgame: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Bobby Fischer, to Crown
The following are biographies in stores this month. In cooperation with Publishers Weekly, many titles are accompanied by a link to the PW review.
Star: How Warren
Beatty Seduced Americaby Peter Biskind(Simon & Schuster)
The Churchills: A
Family Portraitby Celia Lee and John Lee(Palgrave Macmillan)
The Origins of the October Revolutionby Philip Pomper(Norton)
King of the Lobby:
The Life and Times of Sam Ward, Man-About-Washington in the Gilded Ageby Kathryn Allamong Jacob(Johns Hopkins)
NEW IN PAPER
Lincoln: A Life
by Catherine Clinton
Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California
the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster
Hunter S. Thompson: An Insider's View of
Deranged, Depraved, Drugged Out Brilliance
by Jay Cowan
Hitler: A Biography
by Ian Kershaw
James McGrath Morris,
P.O. Box 864
Tesuque, NM 87574
James McGrath Morris
by Michael Mudd