Two new career guides for young women may signal a trend toward nonfiction packaged for chick lit readers.
In January, Harper Resource will publish The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business by book publicists Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio. With chapters titled "Sell It Sister!: Getting Your Name and Product 'Out There' " and "Being a Boss Sucks: But it is Essential, and Often Satisfying," it combines a cheerleading attitude with nitty-gritty information. "The authors wanted to show that you can be girly and feminine while being hard-working and hard-nosed, and you can hold those two concepts in your head without being schizophrenic," said Harper Resource editorial director Megan Newman.
The first printing for The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business is 25,000 copies, backed with solid television and print placement. "For something like this, where they'll be in Ladies' Home Journal and Parade, and they're booked on The Today Show [in January], I'm ordering 50 to 100 books," said Pat Boyer, co-owner of Bookends in Ridgewood, N.J.
In February, Perigee is undertaking a 50,000-copy first printing of Wildly Sophisticated: A Bold New Attitude for Career Success by Nicole Williams, founder of Wildly Sophisticated Media Inc., a career development organization for young professional women that sponsors networking events across the country. Williams has the advantage of an active Web site (www.wildlysophisticated.com) where she has amassed a 100,000-member database, mostly through alumni groups and sororities, and an out-of-the-box promotional campaign she devised with her publisher.
To encourage booksellers to host "Drinks After Work" get-togethers, where attendees watch a video of Williams, then network, Perigee has assembled special authorless event kits. Barnes & Noble will host eight author-led discussions, followed by signings, in large cities including New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Additionally, Williams will run office fashion shows at the Saks Fifth Avenue department stores in Chicago and New York, where copies of Wildly Sophisticated will also be available. Finally, in spring 2004, the Oxygen Network will air the pilot for Williams's as-yet-untitled career-building program, as part of the cable channel's relaunch.
Booksellers are divided on which title, and which promotional methods, will spark more interest. Borders public relations manager Jenie Dahlmann said, "We took a decent stand on Wildly Sophisticated, but a stronger stand on The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business, driven by a confirmed Today Show appearance, the strong media credentials of the authors and a positive trend in small business start-ups." At Posman Books in New York City's Grand Central Station, buyer Robert Fader reported ordering "enough copies of Wildly Sophisticated so there will be a pile on a table, but not as many of The Girl's Guide. I didn't see much of a distinction in gender when starting a company."
Whichever comes out on top, these two titles seem a harbinger of things to come, as Perigee continues to make a conscious effort to publish nonfiction for the hot-pink-cover crowd. "We were thinking, 'we've got women reading books like Bridget Jones's Diary on the fiction side. What else are they reading?' " said Perigee publisher John Duff. As a result, Perigee has also paired with Budget Living magazine on a separate series of books.