Penguins on Two Continents

This week in Publisher's WeeklyPenguin Divisions Team Up to Buy Self-Pubbed Bestseller Easy

It's been just over four months since I published Easy, and no one has been more continually surprised at how well it's been received than me. Each milestone it edged past shocked me - from inclusion on bestseller lists the likes of The New York Times and USA Today, to foreign translations, audio acquisition, and Penguin/ Razorbill UK picking up the UK/Commonwealth rights.

My agent had been approached with several North American offers over the past few months as well - solid offers with reputable publishing houses. None were quite right for one reason or another, usually boiling down to the question of categorization - What is Easy? Young Adult? Romance? Women's Fiction? The main characters are 19-21, the setting is a university campus, and the story is a contemporary romance… but that love story is threaded around a serious issue that encompasses the reason I wrote the book - sexual assault by an acquaintance.

For digital markets, I can and have labeled the novel contemporary romance, mature young adult, and new adult (the latter of which doesn't exist - yet - as a legitimate category), but the process for assigning a shelf at a brick-and-mortar book retailer is a whole different ball of wax. How do you classify and shelve a novel that refuses to fit neatly into an existing category? I couldn't answer this question, and I couldn't accept less than a publisher who would be willing to step, hop or leap outside the box in an attempt to do so.

No one came up with an innovative way to classify and present Easy until - in a nod to the concept of "New Adult" fiction - NYC-based Penguin Group made a unique offer to acquire Easy under two imprints: Berkley Books (adult) and Penguin Young Readers (juvenile). I have no idea how many questions and concerns they're used to fielding before an author signs, but I probably used up my quota. I can only say that I felt that my worries were taken seriously, and I felt heard. They respect what I've done with this book on my own, and I respect their reputation as one of the Big Six, but no one is so in awe that we're unable to communicate honestly. That's just as it should be, I think.

Stay tuned.