As the foremost chronicler of the young novelist Tao Lin’s every whim, The Observer was hoping we might break the story of Tao Lin’s next book deal, which he announced he was shopping a couple weeks back. Then, on a Sunday when our moods were already dampened by incessant rain and the looming prospect of Monday, Mr. Lin wrote to inform us that we had lost the story to Mike Vilensky at The Wall Street Journal. So he granted us an interview.
“Mike ‘scooped’ the news via Clegg himself,” read the e-mail from Mr. Lin we received in our inbox as Sunday turned into Monday, The Wall Street Journal went to the presses, and the rain thundered down. “Clegg” is Bill Clegg, Mr. Lin’s agent at William Morris Endeavor. The announcement can be found here. The novel, entitled Taipei, Taiwan, will be released as a paperback on Vintage Books, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
“Vintage/Knopf publishes most of my favorite writers: Lorrie Moore, Ann Beattie, Bret Easton Ellis,” Mr. Lin told WSJ. And now Tao Lin.
So here is some stuff that is not in The Wall Street Journal: The book was sold for $50,000 with a $10,000 bonus if it earns out its advance, with one-third up front, one-third upon delivery of the manuscript and one-third upon publication in the U.S. and Canada. The proposal consisted of a 5000-word excerpt and a ~3-page outline. The other houses that made offers were Harper Perennial and Little, Brown. Tim O’Connell, who is an associate editor at Vintage and Anchor Books, will edit Mr. Lin. Mr. O’Connell was described by his new author as a “prolific Tweeter.” Mr. O’Connell has Tweeted four times since March 2010.
Here is the rest of our exchange with Mr. Lin:
NYO: Did you get to go to meetings at the publishing houses?
TL: Yes, I met with 4 editors.
NYO: Who has the nicest office?
TL: Bloomsbury had the bleakest office, in my view. The other offices were all really nice.
NYO: Did Tim make the highest offer or was he the editor (and Vintage the publisher) you liked best?
TL: I liked everyone. Vintage didn’t make the highest offer. I liked them best, based on a number of factors and with Bill’s input.
NYO: Did you meet Sonny Mehta?
TL: I did not, but Tim and I talked about him. Tim spoke to him a number of times. Sonny had asked Tim which book by me he should read and Tim had said “Richard Yates,” so Sonny may have read some or all of “Richard Yates.”
NYO: Were you counseled against putting out a book proposal when everyone is on vacation (did they say “wait until September” or did you have to talk with any editors on Martha’s Vineyard)?
TL: Everyone seemed very available, but I think mostly because of Bill’s influence and enthusiasm. Bill highly exceeded my expectations at what an agent does or could do.
NYO: Do you feel now like you’ve “made it”?
TL: I honestly feel, to a large degree, like me and everyone else are close to death and that the awareness of this has, to me, precluded thoughts of “making it” (this is a theme of the novel).