Monday, February 16, 2004

February 9, 2004
'Girl' Appears Not to Have Same Glamour as 'Nanny'

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the young authors behind "The Nanny Diaries," which has sold two million copies in hardcover and paperback, appear to be suffering through a sophomore slump. Random House has turned down the latest rewrite of their second novel, tentatively titled "Citizen Girl,'' according to publishing executives told about the plans.

That novel was bought in 2002 by the Random House Trade Group, an imprint of the larger Random House division of Bertelsmann, along with a sequel to "The Nanny Diaries'' in a deal worth a reported $3 million.

"The Nanny Diaries," though a work of fiction, caused a stir with its seemingly true-to-life revelations about the wealthy people who employ others to take care of their children. An early 18-page sample of the prospective new novel suggests a quite different book, about a disgruntled young character named Girl who is fired from a dull job. It starts with this introduction:

"In New York City, if you are of any age, denomination, or race, and own a penis, you can say anything that comes into your penis-owning head to anyone, of any age, denomination, or race, who does not own a penis."

The full manuscript of "Citizen Girl'' arrived at Random House last year after a shake-up that included the firing of its president and publisher, Ann Godoff (who then landed at the Penguin unit of Pearson). An intense period of editing on "Citizen Girl'' culminated in a letter to the writers describing the major changes that were thought needed to make the work publishable, according to one person briefed on the process; Ms. McLaughlin and Ms. Kraus did not agree with the prescribed changes, and sought other opinions through their latest agent, Suzanne Gluck of the William Morris Agency. Among those sent the novel were Kurt Andersen, the author of "Turn of the Century'' and a client of Ms. Gluck.

Ms. McLaughlin and Ms. Kraus, who received an advance of just $25,000 for "The Nanny Diaries," have not particularly endeared themselves to many in the publishing industry. After "The Nanny Diaries'' was finished, they shed two agents before hiring Ms. Gluck. Ms. Kraus, Ms. McLaughlin and Ms. Gluck could not be reached for comment. Executives at Random House declined to comment.

Editors at other major trade publishers said that there was doubt from the outset about the two authors' ability to duplicate their success, particularly with a book that was not a sequel.

St. Martin's, which published "The Nanny Diaries," tried to sign up the two authors again. "We had a positive, profitable experience," said Jennifer Weis, their editor at St Martin's. But, she added, "our editorial vision diverged from what was presented to us."

?Girl? Appears Not to Have Same Glamour as ?Nanny?

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