Saturday, November 27, 2004

Now the 'Nanny Diaries' authors are taking care of business

Write a first book that becomes a huge best seller, reap fame and a fortune, get ready for the knives to come out.

This is the situation these days for Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the former Manhattan au pairs who told mostly all in "The Nanny Diaries," a thinly disguised novel based on their Park Avenue experiences that became an international sensation with 2 million copies in print.

Last Sunday's New York Times profiled the two photogenic 30-year-olds and their transformation "from Cinderellas to prima donnas." It zeroed in on their hopscotching from one literary agent to another to another and how their $2 million advance for their next two books was whittled down to $250,000 for their second novel after its previous publisher got cold feet about the project. That comeuppance was seen as poetic justice by many in the catty Manhattan publishing world.

"Citizen Girl" (Atria Books, 306 pages, $24.95) is similar in tone and approach to "The Nanny Diaries," but this satire about a young woman's progress in the business world has not been generating many favorable reviews and predictions are being made that the duo will become infamous "one-hit wonders." Word-of-mouth enthusiasm, however, was a far more important factor in their previous runaway success.

McLaughlin and Kraus, who met in a theater history class in New York University, concede that they are not novelists -- "Citizen Girl" was based on e-mails between the two -- but both thought their second project was worthy.

The New York Times quoted Kraus summarizing their thoughts on the book: "OK, if we never do another thing, if this is our swan song, we need to go to our graves knowing that we put this out there."

Now the 'Nanny Diaries' authors are taking care of business

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