Friday, January 10, 2014 Dedicated Issue: Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster 90th Anniversary

Simon & Schuster: The Rise by Sarah Lewis

Simon & Schuster: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

Simon & Schuster: The Rosie Prokect by Graeme Simsion

Simon & Schuster: Animal Madness by Laurel Braitman

Simon & Schuster: Gemini by Carol Cassella

Editors' Note

Simon & Schuster

Shelf Awareness celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Simon & Schuster imprint. With help from the publisher, we look at Simon & Schuster's vibrant, distinguished history--and its plans to continue and expand that legacy.

Simon & Schuster: Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr

Books & Authors

Bringing's S&S Nonfiction Midas Touch to Fiction, Too

Max Lincoln Schuster and Richard L. Simon

In 1924, Richard L. Simon, a former piano salesman who had worked in sales at the legendary Boni & Liveright publishing house, and Max Lincoln Schuster, an editor at an automobile association's trade magazine, set up their eponymous publishing house--with no employees or manuscripts, but with the then revolutionary idea of coming up with ideas for books and then finding authors to write them. (A year later, they  were the first publisher to offer booksellers credit for returned unsold books.)

The first book idea came from Simon's aunt, who wished she could give a sick friend a collection of crossword puzzles, which were a new fad. Simon and Schuster worked with the crossword editors of the New York Sunday World and on April 10, 1924, published The Cross Word Puzzle Book, the first ever crossword book, which sold more than 100,000 copies in the first nine months of publication.

From that unlikely beginning, Simon & Schuster evolved into one of the preeminent publishers in the country, particularly in nonfiction. Besides a strength in health and fitness and self-improvement, it has published a litany of bestsellers over the years that chronicle some of the most important cultural and political periods and figures in American and world history. Simon & Schuster has published most or all titles by the historians and biographers David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Justin Kaplan, Richard Rhodes, William Shirer, Taylor Branch, Will and Ariel Durant and Bob Woodward, as well as books by former presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (her new memoir is appearing this year).

The house's fiction list has been strong, too, including work by James Lee Burke, Martin Cruz Smith, Larry McMurtry and Mary Higgins Clark. Recently Herman Wouk and Ray Bradbury made return appearances at Simon & Schuster. (See below for more on Simon & Schuster's striking titles from the past and upcoming titles.)

Now, in its 90th year, Simon & Schuster is expanding its fiction program and aims to build the same reputation in fiction that it has long had in nonfiction. As publisher Jonathan Karp put it, "We are the gold standard for nonfiction and we intend to perform some alchemy for fiction."

Editor-in-chief Marysue Rucci, who is in charge of the fiction program, added, "We're acquiring a really high caliber of novel now, whether in the commercial or literary realm." As an example, she pointed to The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, published last October, a debut novel about a genetics professor unlucky in love who decides to take a scientific approach to finding a wife--an endeavor he calls the Wife Project--which runs into the reality of the beguiling Rosie Jarman.

Jonathan Karp

Since joining Simon & Schuster in 2010 from Twelve and before that Random House, Karp has blended new hires with a tried and true staff and made changes in the imprint's approach to publishing. Now Rucci noted, "There's an entrepreneurial spirit here."

Associate publisher Richard Rhorer added: "This company is nimble. What really distinguishes Simon & Schuster is getting a book, getting it done and getting it out." He pointed to staff who regularly go beyond the norms, for example, "trekking to Central Park West at four in the morning in the snow to edit a manuscript." He added that Simon & Schuster is helped by the counsel of Simon & Schuster, Inc., president and CEO Carolyn Reidy, who was the publisher of the imprint for many years.

At the same time, the company is continuing to publish the icons it has nourished and developed over the years. As Karp noted, "There is a long tradition at Simon & Schuster of staying with authors and authors staying with Simon & Schuster. We want to uphold that over the next 90 years."

Simon & Schuster 90th Anniversary Sweepstakes

S&S's 90th Anniversary Library and Sweepstakes

The imprint is celebrating its 90 years in part with the Simon & Schuster 90th Anniversary Library, a list of the staff's favorite 90 titles from its 90 years of publishing. (The site features a timeline of S&S's history.) Starting today and continuing for the next 90 days, S&S is highlighting the 90 Years, 90 Books Sweepstakes, offering titles from the Anniversary Library. Everyone who enters the daily drawing in the sweepstakes is automatically entered to win the grand prize of a complete set of the Library. There will also be drawings to win the Library at the ALA Midwinter meeting later this month, BEA's Consumer Day in May, the ALA annual meeting in June and at the National Council of Teachers of English annual meeting in November.

Among iconic titles in the Library:

Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart, Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills and The Prize by Daniel Yergin.

Simon & Schuster: Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse

Simon & Schuster: Staff Matters

Bob Bender

One sign of the imprint's longevity and excellence is the staff, many of whom have worked at Simon & Schuster for decades. Senior editor Bob Bender remembered that when he joined Simon & Schuster in the Dick Snyder era, it had "a ferocious reputation." He was told that if he lasted only six months, "there was no disgrace in that." But "it's turned out to be a wonderful place with a terrific group of people that does a terrific job of publishing," he said. Bender is an editor's editor with a broad and deep list across many categories. He is David McCullough's editor, and among the the books he published this year are Jonah Berger's Contagious and Mario Livio's Brilliant Blunders.

Gypsy da Silva (photo: Jonathan Evans)

Associate director of copyediting Gypsy da Silva remembered that in 1966, on her first day at the house, she was given a book to work on that "everyone thought would be a dog." It was a German title called The Universal Encyclopedia of Machines that had been translated in the U.K. "We had to fight for a first printing of 10,000," she said. But within a year, the book that Simon & Schuster retitled The Way Things Work sold more than a million copies.

Alice Mayhew (photo: David Jacobs)

Legendary editor Alice Mayhew, whom Karp described as "the heart and soul and conscience of our editorial operation" (of the 90 titles Simon & Schuster is celebrating in the Anniversary Library, she edited 29), has focused on biography and history and politics. She remembered buying Our Bodies, Ourselves, which involved taking the shuttle to Boston during a "terrific snowstorm. There was snow up to over my head, and I was late leaving. I met the authors in Cambridge. They were having an intense conversation. No one said, 'Take your coat off, have some tea.' " But she made the deal, and the book, first published in 1971, became a bestseller--and cultural touchstone.

Marysue Rucci

Editor-in-chief Marysue Rucci spent 13 years of her early career at Simon & Schuster and returned in April 2012. In her time, she discovered Kathy Reichs in the slush pile and has edited Little Bee by Chris Cleave, among many other titles. She edits some nonfiction, too, and is head of the fiction program.

Trish Todd

Trish Todd, v-p and executive editor, has had two tours of duty at Simon & Schuster. The first was 1981-1984 as assistant to Marty Asher at Pocket Books; she returned in 1995 as editor-in-chief of Touchstone Books, and three years ago moved to Simon & Schuster. She recalled a time when she read the three-box manuscript of Having It All by Helen Gurley Brown in one night. It was a Mad Men–like era when there was a line on the standard supply order form for liquor, and every Friday at five there was a cocktail party in the offices.

Associate publisher Richard Rhorer worked at Simon & Schuster in the early 1990s in sales and returned recently. During his first stint, the imprint published No Ordinary Time, and he hoped to meet its author, Doris Kearns Goodwin, whom he greatly admired. But that didn't happen right away. "I waited 18 years to meet her," he said.

Art director Jackie Seow started at Simon & Schuster as a senior in college and was the one paste-up mechanical artist in a department of five. Among highlights of her tenure: photographing the White House while working with Hillary Clinton, Socks and Buddy on Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets and bumping into Bill Clinton, which caused the Secret Service to "freak out, because we weren't supposed to be there." She also remembered the jacket mechanical of Greta Garbo's biography, which had been completed but stayed in a drawer for years until after the elusive star's death.

S&S Greatest Hits, Upcoming Titles

Simon & Schuster has published numerous iconic authors. Among the best known:

Photo: William B. McCullough

David McCullough, whose works include John Adams, Truman, The Path Between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback and The Great Bridge. Associate director of copyediting Gypsy da Silva remembered his first book, The Johnstown Flood, published in 1968 and now in its 45th printing. "I've worked with David McCullough on all but one of his books and consider him a great friend," she said. "It's been a privilege. He wanted to write books that cause people to love history as much as he does."

Photo: Eric Levin

Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose current bestseller is The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. Karp called her "a national treasure." Her works include Team of Rivals, the basis for the movie Lincoln; No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys; and Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream.

photo: Lisa Berg

Bob Woodward, who achieved renown with co-author Carl Bernstein with All the President's Men and The Final Days. The Washington Post staffer has since published books about the Supreme Court, the CIA, several presidents and their administrations as well as the famous "Deep Throat" of Watergate fame.

photo: Bernard Vidal

Mary Higgins Clark, whose consistent bestsellers Simon & Schuster has published since the 1970s; she is still edited by Michael Korda. Karp called her "the queen of suspense." She has also published several holiday books with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, who is a suspense writer, too, and published by sister imprint Scribner.

In the last three years, Simon & Schuster published or acquired works by a range of authors, including political leaders Jimmy Carter, Claire McCaskill, James Webb and John McCain, public figures Jaycee Dugard, Linda Ronstadt, Sara Bareilles, James Garner and Shonda Rhimes, historians Jean Edward Smith, Woody Holton, Michael Kazin, Ted Widmer, Richard Rhodes and Laurence Bergreen as well as thought leaders Ezra Klein, Cass Sunstein and Jonah Berger.

Other authors whose works have been signed or published in the last three years include bestselling authors Naomi Klein, Chris Matthews, Christopher Buckley, Chelsea Cain and Rob Lowe, literary novelists John Irving, Siri Hustvedt and Vaddey Rattner (whose first novel, In The Shadow of the Banyan, was a finalist for the 2012 PEN/Hemingway Award) and business leaders Brian Grazer, co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, music impresario Clive Davis and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP.

Other authors signed or published in the past three years by the house include basketball legend Bill Walton and sportswriter Joe Posnanski, culinary writers Dominique Ansel, creator of the Cronut, and Berkeley, Calif., chef Samin Nosrat, as well as science writers David Quammen, E.O. Wilson and Sharon Begley.

Among major fiction works that Simon & Schuster will publish this year are:

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (August). This epic tale is told from the point of view of Eileen Tumulty, born in Queens, N.Y., in 1941, who cares for her alcoholic parents, immigrants from Ireland, and dreams of leading a more cosmopolitan, happier life. When she meets Ed Leary, a research scientist, he seems to promise all Eileen wants. Their fortunes change for the better, but Ed is reluctant--and the family has to deal with a kind of growing darkness Eileen never expected. Thomas spent 10 years writing this first novel, which Jonathan Karp called "an extraordinary piece of writing. It's about every woman, every daughter, every mother, every wife." The protagonist's "experience resonates so deeply and is at the core of the American experience." He added that We Are Not Ourselves is "the kind of book we want to be defined by."

Gemini by Carol Cassella (March). In this tale by a practicing anesthesiologist and author of Oxygen and Healer, an unidentified, unconscious woman injured in an accident is admitted to Dr. Charlotte Reese's ICU. As Jane Doe's condition worsens, Charlotte wonders about her patient's identity and fate--a process that leads her to question her own life and particularly her relationship with her boyfriend, Eric, a science journalist. Only when the pair opens up to their feelings for each other do they come to discover Jane Doe's secret. Marysue Rucci called this "a medical mystery with a love story and betrayal."

The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go (May). In this epic adventure story, English mountaineer Ashley Walsingham dies attempting to climb Mount Everest in 1924, leaving his estate to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson, who never claims it. Eighty years later, Walsingham's solicitors find Tristan Campbell, who appears to be the rightful heir. Campbell pieces together important parts of Walsingham's past, including the horrors of the Battle of the Somme, an affair and the expedition to the world's highest mountain. Marysue Rucci compared this first novel with A.S. Byatt's work.

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride (June) has three main characters, including a middle-aged woman whose marriage is falling apart. Set in contemporary Las Vegas, it's "intensely moving and uplifting," said Trish Todd. "It's about how we find the best in ourselves." The author, she noted, is an English teacher who didn't begin to write until her children grew up and left home; she applied to Yaddo without really knowing what it was and although she didn't meet the minimum requirements, she was accepted.

Among major nonfiction works that Simon & Schuster will publish this year are:

Take This Man by Brando Skyhorse (June) is the PEN/Hemingway winner's memoir of a childhood that featured five stepfathers and a mother who made up her life story as well as her son's, to his great confusion. With echoes of The Madonnas of Echo Park, Take This Man is an "incredible story of survival and escape from a terrifying world that is beautifully and exquisitely written," executive director of publicity and senior editor Cary Goldstein said. "The prose and style are transcendent."

The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery by Sarah Lewis (March). Lewis was a member of President Obama's arts policy committee, has been a curator at the Tate Modern and Museum of Modern Art and is receiving a Ph.D. from Yale the same month this book is published. Trish Todd said The Rise will come to be regarded as "a classical account of the journey from failure to mastery and the interior lives of creative individuals."

I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir by James Webb (May). Alice Mayhew called this memoir by the former Senator, Secretary of the Navy and decorated Marine "a wonderful piece of Americana by an extraordinarily good writer" whose family roots are in Appalachia. "It's a love letter to his family, especially to his father," she added.

Supreme City: How Jazz Age Manhattan Gave Birth to Modern America by Donald L. Miller (May). This cultural biography of New York City in the 1920s highlights the period when the center of the city moved from downtown to midtown and Manhattan became the epicenter of the country, culture and business. It was also the time, as Bob Bender pointed out, when Simon & Schuster was founded. Horace Liveright was a "flamboyant, innovative" publisher whose editor-in-chief was Bennett Cerf and whose sales chief was Richard Simon. "They were all out-of-towners who came to New York because it was the place to be successful," he added. Cerf left to found Random House, and Simon joined up with Schuster--and the rest is the kind of history that Simon & Schuster publishes so well.

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