I just learned that Match Made in Manhattan is on sale FOR TODAY ONLY for $1.99. That’s half the price of a NYC cup of coffee!! I quickly made up a nifty graphic as eye candy:
Get it while you can, while it’s still hella cheap! 🙂
I just learned that Match Made in Manhattan is on sale FOR TODAY ONLY for $1.99. That’s half the price of a NYC cup of coffee!! I quickly made up a nifty graphic as eye candy:
Get it while you can, while it’s still hella cheap! 🙂
The publishing world is mighty opaque, even when you’re already signed with a publisher, even when your book is coming out in 3 months. Here is an e-mail I sent my literary agent at the end of August:
Did you know Skyhorse sold the Match Made in Manhattan audio rights? I didn’t, but when I was looking up the Amazon link to send to a potential reviewer last week, I saw the audiobook had been added to the listing. Did more digging and found the CD and MP3 up for pre-order at a number of cool indie bookstores around the country, too. YAY!!! . . . Are there any more details about this I should be aware of? And/or other nifty things happening around MMIM that I missed?
It turned out the audio rights had been sold to Brilliance Audio earlier in the summer. Accordingly, Skyhorse (and, by corollary, I) relinquished creative input or control for the audiobook. But my sister Elenna, who was the first editor of my manuscript back when it was just a word file living on my computer, makes her living as a voice-over artist. If you listen to Jergen’s commercials on TV or one of her dozens of books on tape, you might recognize her voice! And wouldn’t it have been SO COOL if she got to read the part of Alison, since she’s been well acquainted with my protagonist going on 3 years now?
But, it wasn’t up to me or to Skyhorse. So instead, I just suggested she have her agent call up Brilliance Audio, ask if the Match Made in Manhattan audiobook had been recorded, and if not, if she could be submitted for the narrator. A few days later, she was invited to audition. . . And HERE WE ARE TODAY!
Note that our brother Ben took this photo (in addition to my author photos), so my siblings and I have now each had a hand in some creative aspect of this book. (Ben’s also responsible for directing and shooting the web series spin-off, which I’ll post about more when it’s ready).
I can now say with some certainty that DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE.
When you finally sit down to write that book you’ve been mentally plotting for years, you begin to envision what your #writerslife will look like. Because I penned my debut novel while living in Paris, my daydreams more or less reflected a 21st-century version of Ernest Hemingway’s vie Parisienne:
I’d spend my days plotting narrative arcs in the shadows of Saint-Germain-des-Prés; downing espressos in a sidewalk café, drawing inspiration from the crowds as I watched the world go by; engaging in intellectual debate with fellow authors over whiskey & sodas at the Closerie des Lilas or Brasserie Lipp; generally inhabiting Hemingway’s impoverished literary lifestyle, though hopefully not having to follow in his footsteps quite so literally as to shoot pigeons for my dinner in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Some of these fantasies came to pass. First in Paris, now in New York, I find many of my most productive writing sessions take place in public gardens or cafes; I’ve probably spent my entire advance on those espressos, which focus and fuel much of my writing; and I *have* been fortunate enough to meet a few author friends who engage in enriching, creative conversations over whiskey sodas & other choice beverages.
But what nobody tells you when you start to write a book, when you land an agent, or even when your agent lands a publisher, is that writing and revising the manuscript is the easy part. Once you’ve signed that publishing contract, you can kiss those poetic, creative days of yore goodbye. No longer an author, you now have a new job! One that—If you’re like me—you’ve had zero experience with and exposure to. One that nobody trains you for. One that pays zero dollars and requires what feels like 100% of your waking hours.
Et voilà: You are now officially your own Marketing Machine, and it is time to do The (Book PR) Hustle.
I like to pretend that by chanting ad nauseum “Do the (Book PR) Hustle,” this awkward and painful phase of the publishing journey can be rendered slightly less grueling. The hustle, after all, is my and my father’s favorite dance step, and “Do The Hustle,” is one of the cheesiest (best?) songs and music videos of all time. Perhaps if I can associate the Book PR Hustle with the groovy disco one, I will stop dreading it so much? A girl can dream . . .
There are two parts of The (Book PR) Hustle, and though Phase One—cold pitching around the clock 24/7—is outright stressful and depressing, I’ve recently come to understand that Phase Two—accepting invitations that come out of Phase One—can produce significant rewards, even if the payoff isn’t necessarily in the book sales or dollars you were hoping for.
Let us examine a day in the life of a debut novelist, based on a 24-hour chunk of my life last week. Between 9:30 p.m. Thursday and 9:30 p.m. Friday, I & Match Made in Manhattan appeared:
How many hours did these events and their corresponding transit time take up? Lots. I think 13? How many book sales were generated? My book’s not out until January 2nd, so it’s impossible to say. But for the first time in a long time, I felt reconnected to the subject matter of my book and to HUMANS! And man, is that a good feeling.
In Phase One of The (Book PR) Hustle, you haven’t touched your manuscript since it’s been finalized 9+ months ago. Consequently, sitting behind the computer pitching a synopsis and sales angle that you can now recite verbatim feels more akin to being a product rep than an author. In the best-case scenario, your contact writes back, “Sounds interesting. I’d love an advance copy.” This best-case scenario is indeed very exciting, but there are no follow-up questions about the book itself, no exchange of ideas, no thoughtful discussion on the writing process or publishing journey . . . best case we’re looking at 2 fragment sentences. And then, you are on to pitching the next outlet.
But a podcast? Or an interview? These are just public discussions of topics you care very much about. I could chat about love and dating and book-writing and the Bachelor franchise till the cows come home; and to be able to do this with hosts who feel equally passionate about these subjects as I do? Who introduce me to new viewpoints or facts? Conversational heaven.
My evening in Westhampton revivified this energy x 85 (since there were 85 people in the audience). After relating my most germane experiences and useful advice in a half-hour talk, I mingled with audience members for another 2 hours until I had to catch my train home. Some had questions about the publishing process and book world, which I’m always happy to converse about; but the vast majority wanted my take on their own dating experiences—whether feedback on specific dates or advice/critique on their overall approach. To be clear, I am not a love expert. Just someone who spends way too much time analyzing dating and relationships, then writing about it. But men and women who want to spend their Friday night dishing on dating apps and contemporary social mores? This is my happy place.
Contemplating the boisterousness and fun of the “Singles Dinner” on the train ride home, I realized that once I embarked on Phase One of The (Book PR) Hustle, the heart of Match Made in Manhattan became necessarily reduced to a bullet point in a marketing campaign—something to be pitched and peddled rather than thoughtfully discussed or analyzed. Phase Two, however? Connecting with podcasters, journalists, eager audiences & future readers? As one host erroneously titled my book this past week: Match Made in Heaven.
If you don’t already listen to The Great Love Debate podcast with Brian Howie, I highly recommend it. The content and tenor of the episodes vary widely, with guests ranging from to prominent psychologists and authors like John Gray (“Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus”) to past Bachelors and Bachelorettes (Ali Fedotowsky, Nick Viall, etc.) But the constant is that it’s always about dating, love, and relationships.
In addition to the podcast, which is recorded in LA, they also tour the world — from the US to Asia — with a live single-mingle town-hall style show, and this Monday night they were in New York . . . And, on account of forthcoming dating novel, I was just asked to be one of the on-stage experts!
Here are The Top Five Things I Learned from Being on The Great Love Debate:
1. People have really firm, preconceived notions of what makes for a good first date. I love the psychological/sociological aspects of dating and meeting new people, so I’m perfectly happy with the let’s cut-straight-to-the-dishing coffee, drinks, or dinner date. But when asked if a coffee date’s a good first date, the audience booed. Actually booed. The consensus was that it’s too much like an interview (?). I suggested doing a casual activity, like walking the High Line or the Brooklyn Bridge — that way the more serious, getting-to-know-you talk can be punctuated with people watching or random observations about the surrounding architecture or foliage. When it was suggested you could walk with ice cream, again, booing ensued. WHO DOESN’T LIKE ICE CREAM???
Me, I loved every ice cream date I’ve ever been on. But word to the wise: consider offering two diametrically opposed first date options when asking a lady/gent out. Because the audience taught me that suggesting ice cream could lead to an automatic rejection.
2. I have a waaaaay over-animated, overly expressive face, and apparently I gesticulate wildly when talking. This makes me a hilariously unphotogenic host.
By comparison, check out Amy Paffrath sitting next to me. Amy was the host of “Dating Naked” and MTV’s “Jersey Shore: After Hours.” Look at how positive and enthusiastic and supportive Amy looks. This is why one of us is a TV host and the other is an author.
3. You can have a super badass job and a really kind, intelligent-sounding profile (hi, audience member who is a singer-songwriter AND a professor at Hunter College!) but online daters need an entry point, so give them something to work with: Maybe pose a question they can respond to. Or, take a page from Alison’s profile in MATCH MADE IN MANHATTAN, and play two truths and a lie. Make it fun, make it easy, keep them guessing. Or asking.
4. Some of the stories audience members wanted feedback or advice on were certifiably insane — chock full of all kinds of illegal antics like breaking and entering a landmark cultural institution on a first date, or being drugged with laxatives by a suitor. I turned to Amy and said that I hear all these exhilarating/terrifying/raunchy tales and feel like I haven’t lived — and yet I was the one in the room who had written a book full of dating stories 😉 95% of the people you’ll date are lovely and possess many redeeming qualities. Some, however, may not. Stay safe out there.
5. The Great Love Debate strives to answer the question “Why is Everyone Still Single?” I was surprised, and a bit discouraged, to see how incensed certain audience members became when dishing on the NYC dating scene. There are no dating rights or wrongs (well, don’t poison your date please, re: #4 above), but try not to despair if/when your date turns out not to be your soul mate. Instead, maybe try making it a game in your head:
If he/she’s not for me, can I . . .
(A) set him/her up with my friend/roommate/brother/sister? One person’s loss can definitely be another’s gain.
(B) see us being friends? I was just saying that I needed a new running partner and he/she lives right near me and is currently telling me about his/her training for the upcoming Central Park 10K…
(C) learn one new thing today? About his/her career, in a field I know nothing about? About his/her hobby, which I’ve never tried my own hand at? About his/her favorite Netflix series, since I need a new bingefest?
And if the answer’s none of the above, you can always opt for (D) spin this into a chapter when I finally pen that dating novel I’ve always been meaning to write 😉 Or, if writing’s not your thing, Billy Procida (two seats down from me on stage) began his podcast by interviewing all the women he’d previously had relationships with. . . So many ways to turn those lemons into lemonade!
Over the weekend, a friend directed me to a “fresh talent” round-up featured on Chicklit Club. Behold: Me & my debut novel are listed among the 16 to watch for in the coming year!
*throws more confetti in the air*
Hi! Skyhorse made me a fancy new cover for MATCH MADE IN MANHATTAN. And I am obsessed.
The novel has an episodic format, wherein each chapter focuses on a new man Alison meets online. This new cover perfectly captures the serial nature of the book. And I was pleased to see that even Older Luke’s Dog, Boomer, makes a cameo!
Given that I write contemporary women’s fiction with a focus on relationships romantic and friendly, it probably comes as no surprise that I am a die-hard fan of The Bachelor franchise. Accordingly, when ESPN & ABC teamed up to launch a football-like fantasy league, my heart leapt . . . especially since this season’s leading man is Nick Viall.
Before the season premiere, the eleven members of my fantasy league — including college friends on opposite coasts, city friends, my lovely literary agent, Jen — debated whether Nick Viall would make for interesting TV, or whether it was too redundant to place him at the helm of yet another season. When one friend who hadn’t closely followed recent seasons asked why Nick had become such a polarizing figure, here was my contribution to the group thread:
To add to what Aleks said, I didn’t watch Andi’s season because I couldn’t stream it in Paris, but Nick got a bad rap for “slut shaming” her in the “Men Tell All” episode, which I think was a really unfair characterization of what he did. Basically, he had been so startled when Andi didn’t choose him, he blurted out, “Why did you sleep with me then???” And Andi retorted that the remark was “below the belt.” But really, I think Nick was just super hurt and stunned. Not an unfair question why she slept with him only to break up with him the next day. . .
Anywho, he then went on Katelyn’s season because they’d met at some Bachelor PR events and hit it off. He had a very strong, early-on connection with her — again went to the final 2, but she chose a jealous loudmouthed jerk named Shawn instead.
Then Nick went on Bachelor in Paradise and continued to just be all-around charming and thoughtful. Not that the competition is so fierce, but I am convinced he is the most emotionally intelligent of the franchise personalities. Every single lady on the island would come to him with her emotional woes, and he was basically the resident therapist and BFF to all.
And now he’s BACK! For round 4! Oy. But still, I find him to be a dreamboat and am convinced we’d be friends IRL.
Granted as “emotional intelligence” since became the buzzword of the Corinne-Taylor showdown, I shudder in hindsight at my use of that descriptor for Nick, but I still firmly believe that Nick’s EQ outnumbers those of fellow franchise contestants. Yet, as the new ABC-ESPN fantasy league has me watching the show more closely than ever before, the very questions they ask underscore how little of Nick & his EQ we are actually getting to see.
This week’s survey asks: “How many times does Nick cry this week?” (Answer Choices: 0, 1, 2, 3). Wanna hear my beef with this and similar questions? So glad you asked!
The show has become a Frankenbite-infused editorial mess lately. Examples abound, but focusing on just this past week, remember
I only know the stakes and results of the volleyball competition because I googled “what on earth was going on this week behind the scenes of The Bachelor“. With the abandonment of chronological and/or linear structure, members of my fantasy league were baffled as to why all these women were drunkenly crying on separate sandy plots for no apparent reason. Not that a less-exclusive cocktail party is a “good” reason to cry per se, but come on ABC! Enough of women opining that other contestants aren’t here for the right reasons, and enough of these unexplained, unrelated tears. We are here to witness blossoming romance! Not histrionics that give all women everywhere a bad name.
Now, back to my Fantasy League and its similarly inane and unpredictable questions: How do we know Nick didn’t cry 18 times or just once? The editors are splicing footage in such a way that whether he cried 0, 1, 2, or 3 times, it’s their decision re: how many tears to show. And its editorial decisions that seemingly dictate Fantasy League point accrual at this point, not what actually happened with Nick, or how he acted/reacted, connected/disconnected.
Please let’s focus more on the REAL Nick Viall. Who is he? What are his interests? His hobbies? His fears (apart from his wife not being in this room)? We know from past seasons that he has a sense of humor. Where is it?? (other than those clips with Alexis after the credits when he is generally good spirited and funny) How did he actually react when Jasmine told him in a retaliatory fit that she slept with his friend? (another informative gem I learned from Google, which I wish made it to the final cut) We know Nick has amassed a ton of female friends, as evidenced by his role as island therapist on Bachelor in Paradise. Which of these women has he formed a more supportive, friend-like bond with? Why are we stuck in the womens’ hotel living room and ITMs focusing on nannies and bullies and catfights?
Bachelor Season 21, you are disappointing us so!
This weekend we received my friend Bhawna’s wedding invitation, and it got me thinking about love and marriage in modern India.
Bhawna grew up in a suburb outside of Delhi but immigrated to the United States with her boyfriend after university. On the scaffold at work, she and I used to joke that she was the black sheep of her family, having chosen a “love match” while all her sisters were (or were destined to be) in arranged marriages. I’d never met anyone who’d been in an arranged marriage, and frankly the concept seemed rather antiquated and constricting to me . . . until I moved to India in 2013.
Matrimonial classifieds in the weekend section of our local newspaper in India, divided by age group and caste.
I spent my Saturday mornings, dosas piled on my plate, mug of masala chai in hand, poring over the matrimonial classifieds in the Bangalore Mirror. One ad would boast the bachelor’s father was a surgeon, another touted lineage from a prominent Brahmin family of Karnataka. Despite my personal fascination in perusing these newspaper pages (not dissimilar from my fascination in perusing Match.com profiles), as far as we could tell, Jason’s co-workers of our generation didn’t distinguish between those who had chosen their spouses and those who had had their spouses chosen for them. At dinner with his team one night, a colleague explained to me, “Both are normal—maybe even equally occurring. I know it seems weird to you Westerners, but to us, it’s not.” He shrugged.
Why are we Westerners so hung up on choice?
Anecdotally from Indian friends—including my American-assimilated friend, Bhawna—it doesn’t seem that one type of marriage is actually more successful than the other. And, the (relative) success of arranged marriages dovetails nicely with my theory on why couples from Survivor and The Bachelor can boast successful post-TV relationships despite overwhelmingly slim odds of 1 man: 25 women (e.g.). Although we grow up watching and reading about “the One” in a million soulmate, surely we don’t believe ABC producers are omniscient and all-powerful enough to seal the fates of Trista Rehn, Ashley Hebert, and a handful of other bachelorettes and their spouses? At the end of the day, that combination of circumstance and timing clearly enables us to feel “compatible” with many, many more people than pop culture and romantic fiction would otherwise lead us to believe.
My friend Harshini, who lives in Sri Lanka but studied abroad in the U.S., says she’s looking forward to her parents finding her match. “Dating can be so hard,” she lamented when I visited her in Colombo. “From how you dress to if you drink alcohol, to staying out late, or staying over—which is absolutely forbidden—it’s not like your Tinder. We can’t date around.” And indeed, the dating process she describes does sound painfully slow and tedious . . . even to a verrrrry slooooow dater like me.
My year online made me think that I would do rather well in an arranged marriage, and truthfully, I can see its appeal. I found I almost always grew to like someone the more time I spent with them. I relish in the slow reveal of admirable qualities, of intriguing characteristics and histories that lie below the surface. Establishing a base level of trust and comfort can take a while. Almost invariably, I enjoyed my longer dates over my shorter ones; by the third date I had much more interest in and respect for a guy than I did on the first. This is probably why I had the most luck dating old friends.
The idea of choice is important and empowering, for sure. But is having your parents pick your significant other from their pre-vetted community really so different from having the ABC producers pick from their pool of contacts? At least when your parents are setting you up, there’s a better chance you won’t wind up with a Chad Johnson or a Juan Pablo.
Deep thoughts for a Sunday night, and I actually could expound this subject for hours. But, in the near term, I can’t wait to break out my sari from the top of my closet and watch Bhawna’s husband ride in on his white horse.
The genesis of my book began as a list of men’s names scrawled on the back of a cocktail napkin. I was at drinks with friends, relating the details of my latest date. Earlier that year I had signed up for Match.com, and already I had been dumped before the first kiss, donned full HAZMAT gear on a third date, and been set up with another date’s mom. A happy side effect of my year online was that I wound up with a dating history that, as transcribed on that fateful cocktail napkin, formed a quirky yet gripping romantic narrative.
There are dozens of dating-centric novels out there, but the lion’s share focus on a single relationship or love triangle. The thing I wanted to communicate in my book was that myriad first dates that go nowhere with random men can be fun! They don’t have to be terrible! When you focus on the process, not the results, dating can be super instructive, interesting, and invigorating! So rather than dwell on the frustrations that can come out of trying to find your Match, I wrote a book underscoring the diversity and colorfulness of the men that populate New York City.
The protagonist searches for romantic potential while trying to keep an open mind, knowing that after each chapter ends, a new one can begin with the click of a button.
Welcome to my blog! There’s so much meaty, fun stuff we’re going to delve into in the coming months & years, but to begin, a little bit about me. When I finished writing my first manuscript, my agent asked me to write a brief “About the Author” blurb that she could use in her cover letter. Here’s what I wrote:
Amanda Stauffer Park is an American expat who currently lives in Paris, France, and freelances as an architectural conservator and as a copy editor for fiction publications. When she grew frustrated with New York City’s dating scene, it wasn’t long before Amanda headed to www.match.com. And even though no successful relationships came out of it, her experiences provided her with a lifetime of warm and fuzzy memories, a few friends, and an abundance of material should she ever decide to pursue a career in comedy.
Amanda is a fan of Italian neorealist cinema, mojitos, and—well, you can just read her protagonist’s Match profile on page 4 of this book, because she lifted heavily from Amanda’s (now defunct) profile.
Most of that bio still applies, except I’ve since moved back to Manhattan . . . and have a serious case of wanderlust as a result. Like so many avid readers/writers out there, I’ve got a mental shortlist of the next ten books I want to write. For the time being though, I’m at work on my second manuscript, which is also women’s fiction.