Recently Pat Conroy's editor, Nan Talese of Doubleday, sent him a copy of the jacket the publisher plans to use for his next book, "Beach Music," which is to be issued later this year.
The response of Conroy, whose last book, "Prince of Tides," was published to near-worshipful response in 1986, was, "`Isn't it customary for the publisher to receive the whole manuscript before doing the jacket?' " Talese related in a recent interview.Maybe, but this is Pat Conroy. And his manuscript, Talese hastened to add, is nearly finished - the author has turned in everything except for a couple of chapters, so that his book will be ready for its scheduled publication in December. "The book is a little overdue, but not drastically so," Talese said.
All this really means, as far as advance publicity goes, is that Doubleday - which is already positioning "Beach Music" as a major title in the coming year - didn't have any advance galley copies to hand out to booksellers at their annual convention in Los Angeles.
Advance copies are helpful because booksellers can take them home early, read them, then order more copies for the store.
But booksellers have so much goodwill toward Conroy that having "Beach Music" come out sight-unseen doesn't seem to make much difference.
It certainly hasn't made a difference to the Literary Guild, which beat out the Book-of-the-Month Club and ended up paying $1.18 million for North American rights to the book.
It hasn't made any difference to foreign publishers either - among others, a German company just paid $280,000 for German rights.