January 03, 2008

Tom Wolfe Drops Long-term Deal With Farrar, Straus & Giroux

As we see in the entertainment industry where artists could end a music deal with their record companies, so we see today in the world of writers and publishing houses.

According to the New York Times, Tom Wolfe, the author of social genre novels such as “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and “A Man in Full,” has severed his 42-year publishing relationship with Farrar, Straus & Giroux and has agreed to sell the rights to Little, Brown & Company to publish his next novel, “Back to Blood”.

Yeah, that's right. 42.

This news has sparked a lot of interest amongst publishing houses and their executives who viewed Mr. Wolfe and Farrar, Straus & Giroux's long-term relationship as "loyal". So that brings the question...who was unfaithful?

Reports reveal that a possible reason for the split could be as a result of the disappointment that Wolfe's last novel “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” published in 2004 which did not sell nearly as much as Mr. Wolfe's previous novels. The book about a sheltered freshman at a big university who throws herself into a life of frat parties and casual sex, received mixed reviews.

Interestingly, established writers who have spent many years with one publisher and then have a disappointing book often end up moving to a new publisher because the advances they demand become too high for the existing publisher. Even Stephen King famously left his longtime publisher, Viking, for Scribner when Viking balked at the $18 million advance he wanted for the novel, “Bag of Bones.”

The Wolfe/Farrar, Straus & Giroux split is so real that the link to the about page of FSG from tomwolfe.com cannot be found.


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