Meghan Daum, who caused a stir with her New Yorker essay "My Misspent Youth" and a later collection under the same name, now has a first novel, and there was a rush to preempt it last week within two days of its submission, won by Viking Penguin editor-at-large Carole DeSanti. She made a hefty offer for The Quality of Life Report to Tina Bennett at Janklow & Nesbit, which secured North American and first serial rights. Daum's heroine in the new book, a trendy young "lifestyle" correspondent for a New York TV station, gives it all up to indulge a fantasy life filing stories from the supposedly healthier, more contented rural American heartland; the book is about the gap between what she expects and what she finds. DeSanti, who was also the editor for Melissa Bank's bestselling Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing, expects to publish next summer.