Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day Edition: Ghost Books thinks I wrote a book with basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw. I never did, but if you go to Amazon, you’ll find the title. Chamique Holdsclaw: My Story, published in July 2003 for readers 9-12, available from one seller for $68. It was published by Tandem Library, they say, and weighs 8.8 ounces. There are no customer reviews.

ARGH! Every time I see this listing, I want to scream, “I NEVER WROTE THE BOOK!” What happened was this: A little over a decade ago, I was in talks with a publisher whose parent company was contracting for a memoir by Holdsclaw, who was a standout athlete at the University of Tennessee with a seemingly great career ahead of her in the WNBA. The publisher wanted to include a kids’ book by Holdsclaw in their contract, and wanted to know if I’d be the co-author. I was honored and excited, but things fell through. Jennifer Frey, the author who co-wrote Holdsclaw’s adult memoir, ended up writing the kids’ book as well. Booklist liked Chamique Holdsclaw: My Story, by Holdsclaw and Frey, concluding that Chamique “comes across as an inspiring role model for readers, no matter what their dreams.”

Even so, this ghost book continues to follow me around on Amazon and on other book sites throughout the Web. What happened, it seems, is that the publisher released the marketing information before a contract was signed. Once it’s released, I don’t think there’s any way to take it back. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s annoying! And now I seem to have another ghost book out there. Recently, I’ve seen a posting on eBay for Bloomers and Hoops, a brand new book available for $16.94. But I can assure you that there will be no Bloomers and Hoops. That was the working title of my new book, Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map. Once again, the marketing information was released before the book was final, and I suppose the title will be floating out there forever. I guess it’s the universe’s own April Fools joke on me.

Do any writers out there have ghosts books like these? Has anyone tried to track down books that don’t actually exist?


On a completely different note, I wanted to announce the relaunch of my Web site, It’s now up and running, with some new features and some useful links to the content covered in my books. (But alas, nothing on Chamique Holdsclaw.) Come on by and check it out.


Gretchen Woelfle said...

Love you new website, Sue!

Notes from a Virtual Easel said...

That hasn't happened to me yet, but I wouldn't be surprised. Isn't it exasperating how things fall through? I wonder if anybody ever gets those huge prices on used books that do exist. One of mine that is out of print is currently listed at three places for $499 and change, and there's still one that's holding out for $1,900+

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

There is a ghost version of There's a Frog in My Throat with a slightly different title and jacket. I think it was a premature release by the original publisher that went bankrupt (why they would use a not-final jacket is beyond me.) Amazon won't take it down... they just say so and so in East Asia is working on it... so and so writes emails but doesn’t delete nonexistent books.

rglaser said...

Sue--I think the only way to get rid of those ghost books is to have your publisher contact Bowker and verify that it was never published. Bowker starts all the book data. Publishers do often have to start sales information with non-final jackets--when we get behind but we need a cover for pre-pub sales that are so important for our business. We wish nothing ever changed after things got sent to Bowker, but there's usually something.