BOOK BEAT Naples Sun Times August 9-15, 2006
by Philip K. Jason
When she worked for the National Enquirer, they called Jacqueline Simenauer the “shrink editor” because she dealt mostly with stories that had to do with psychology and psychiatry. Her first husband was a therapist, so she could certainly talk the talk. This area of expertise became the springboard for a successful career as a nonfiction writer of books with a mental health and human behavior slant. Working in the world of tabloid journalism also provided her with a sense of what the public wants – what sells.
Simenauer put these areas of knowledge to good use in a series of well-received titles that made shrewd guesses about what topics were at once useful, marketable, and – at that time – insufficiently researched. The first of these was Beyond the Male Myth: What Women Want to Know about Men’s Sexuality, which received a prominent review in Time. Praised for the scope of its research and the importance of its findings, this book gave credibility to Simenauer’s future projects. These were Husbands and Wives: A National Survey of Marriage and Singles: The New Americans. With these books in print, Jacqueline Simenauer was most likely the only author who had brought to the public the findings of three major national studies on how people really live. Singles even caught the attention of the White House, perhaps because of the detailed Washington Post article on the book. Indeed, the president’s office wrote to Simenauer c/o of the publisher requesting a free copy. (Perhaps there was no White House budget for book purchases.)
These books received exceptional media exposure, as Simenauer and her co-authors made appearances on “Good Morning America” (two half-hour segments), “Today,” and elsewhere. Another title, Not Tonight, Dear: How to Reawaken Your Sexual Desire, received prominent attention in Reader’s Digest. For that book, she interviewed fifty of the nation’s leading sex therapists.
While preparing the book on singles, this entrepreneurial author realized that unmarried people constituted a huge untapped marketplace. She followed up on this insight with two books aimed specifically at singles: Singles Guide to Cruise Vacations and The Single Woman’s Travel Guide. Another inspiration for these books was to put into print the answers to countless questions that Simenauer’s single friends kept asking about travel.
Her marketing savvy has led Simenauer into another career, that of a literary agent specializing in nonfiction. Several shelves in the office of her attractive Naples home are filled with titles for which she was the matchmaker. As one might expect, most of these have to do with mental health issues and human behavior. Simenauer is comfortable working with professionals in these fields. Often she has the big idea for the book, then finds the credentialed professional to flesh it out while she fashions the proposal and finds a publisher. Her partner in the Jacqueline Simenauer Literary Agency, who works in the New York area, handles fiction. Having in lived in Naples for five years, Simenauer no longer misses the New York action.
Whether in the role of agent or author, Jacqueline Simenauer loves the process of collaboration. She thrives on the stimulation of working with someone else, the give and take of ideas. She has learned, as well, that four eyes investigating a subject are better than two.
Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at email@example.com.