HarperStudio's books are an "eclectic list mostly of media-oriented, personality-driven nonfiction," Miller said. "It's a wide variety of nonfiction--and one fable." Given the size of HarperStudio and the way it aims to publish, the model works "very well for nonfiction and is not set up well for breaking out a new novel," he said.
The initial titles:
Who Is Mark Twain? is a collection of 24 previously unpublished pieces by the titan of American literature that will appear on April 21, the 99th anniversary of the author's death. The book is especially appropriate as HarperStudio's debut title for several reasons. From 1895 until his death, Twain was published by Harper Brothers, the main precursor of HarperCollins. In addition, Twain founded a publishing company that published Ulysses Grant's memoirs on a royalty-sharing basis--and helped make a fortune for the former president and general as well as for Twain. And one publishing-related piece in Who Is Mark Twain? discusses his method of testing material: he read aloud to a group of acquaintances, and if one particular man in the group fell asleep during the reading, Twain set the material aside.
The 24 pieces were chosen by Robert Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Project. See his Twainlike answers to several questions below.
Although Twain can't Twitter, HarperStudio is already working several online angles. For example, six of the pieces were not completed, so the division plans to hold a contest online called "I Am the Next Mark Twain" for people to finish the works. The company is also connecting with the "endless number" of Twain websites and blogs, Miller said. "They are places for us to go to let fans know this book is coming."
The book already has made a high-profile debut. One piece, "The Privilege of the Grave," appeared in the New Yorker's winter fiction issue.
The three other initial HarperStudio titles are:
Emeril at the Grill by Emeril Lagasse, the first in a 10-book series, which will be released on May 5, in time for Father's Day. Emeril's company was bought by Martha Stewart's company as HarperStudio was becoming involved with the gregarious chef. Not surprisingly, Emeril at the Grill should receive all kinds of publicity through Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, on Martha Stewart's TV show, through his shows on the Food Network, the Fine Living Network and Planet Green, as well as on mainstream shows. Of course, Lagasse has a popular website, and related foodie websites will be cooking up interest in the book.
Emeril at the Grill is the first title by Lagasse that is appearing in paperback, which makes this book more accessible to his hungry fans. It's also his first book concoction in four years.
What I Cannot Change by LeAnn Rimes and Darrel Brown appears April 14 and includes a CD with an exclusive version of the eponymous hit song. The book is a "counterpart" to the song Rimes wrote with Brown that came out of "a time of frustration when she wanted to accept what she couldn't change," Miller commented. The song was released in October and touched many people, who wrote to the singer about tragedies in their lives. Those testimonies appear on the song's website, and some are included in the book. What I Cannot Change also includes Rimes's discussion of why she wrote the song.
Burn This Book: PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the Word edited by Toni Morrison, which includes contributions by Nobel winner Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pahnuk, David Grossman and others, appears May 12. HarperStudio is publishing the book with PEN American Center and is working with PEN to promote the book on websites related to censorship issues. In connection with the book, readers and others can sign an online petition against censorship. HarperStudio expects that Burn This Book will ignite strong review attention and interest from the literary community.
Among other titles appearing later this year:
The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent, in which the author of The 48 Laws of Power and the rap star discuss "how to live successfully by living fearlessly."
Get Cooking by Mollie Katzen, the first of a series of three books geared to beginners by the bestselling cookbook author, whose creations include The Moosewood Cookbook.
Strange Things Happen by Stewart Copeland, drummer for the Police, who will write about life before, after and with the band.
Green Porno by Isabella Rossellini, based on the short films the actress has made about the sex lives of insects.
I Am Neurotic and So Are You by Lianna Kong, a book of humor and therapy based on a website Kong created in which people confess to neuroses.
The Book of the Shepherd by Joann Davis, an author and former publisher, is a fable that already has received a blurb from Paulo Coelho.
Double Take: A Memoir by Kevin Connolly is by a young man born without legs who traveled the world with his camera--and found out along the way what it means to be human.
Passing on the Gift: The 12 Cornerstones of Heifer International by Mike Matchett, which collects stories based on the 12 principles of Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that aims to help end world hunger and poverty and has been endorsed by Oprah, Jimmy Carter and others.
Organizing the Disorganized Child by Martin Kutscher, M.D., and Marcella Moran, M.A., is by a world-renowned pediatric neurologist and an educational consultant who specializes in organization.
Quick & Easy with Emeril by Emeril Lagasse offers in trade paperback 140 recipes for get-it-on-the-table dinners, healthy-and-quick breakfasts, super-fast snacks, lunches and more.