“I had the best time working on Nothing Like I Imagined, and I am so excited to continue my relationship with Amazon,” said Kaling, about her last book, a collection of essays in which she reflected upon her new role as single mom, the perks of not having a husband, and her struggle with social anxiety. While dealing with all this, Kaling gets Kanye West’d (or should we now say Ye’d) at her best friend’s birthday, thwarts an “only in LA” crime, and learns what it means to have it all.
Starting later this year, Mindy’s Book Studio will be publishing books across genres, from fresh romantic comedies and poignant coming-of-age stories designed to make readers laugh—and cringe—to gripping dramas with unforgettable female protagonists.
The partnership between Amazon Studios and Kaling will adapt material published under Mindy’s Book Studio as feature motion pictures which will exclusively stream on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide. Kaling holds first-producer option on adaptations. Kaling has also signed her debut novel and new essay collection for publication with Amazon Publishing.
“I’m passionate about bringing unique stories to readers and viewers, and I can’t wait to help discover and support talented new voices through Mindy’s Book Studio,” she says.
From best-selling memoirs to some of television’s most beloved shows and characters, Kaling has entertained readers, viewers, and listeners alike for nearly two decades. Building on her relatable and hilarious take on love and relationships—as seen in her Amazon Charts best-selling essay collection Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) and Amazon Studios’ hit film Late Night (which she co-wrote, produced, and starred in)—Mindy’s Book Studio will expand Kaling’s beloved storytelling sensibilities to a new slate of juicy, unforgettable books that readers can access through subscription programs such as Kindle Unlimited, and in print and audio.
“We are delighted to work with Mindy and Amazon Studios on Amazon’s first-ever book studio,” said Julia Sommerfeld, publisher of Amazon Publishing. “Mindy is brilliant at bringing to life highly entertaining, funny, sharp, and bingeable stories, and we can’t wait to collaborate with her on discovering and championing must-read stories from new and diverse voices.”
“With her visionary voice, trademark wit, and tremendous artistic acumen, Mindy Kaling remains a relentless innovator in the creative community,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “She is a pioneering artist, remarkable role model, and philanthropist who continues to tap into global and cultural zeitgeists as a source for her refreshingly authentic storytelling. We could not be more thrilled to expand our collaboration with her across Amazon to not only showcase her incredible talents but also introduce new, dynamic storytellers to our global customers.”
Kaling is represented by 3 Arts Entertainment, CAA, The Lede Company, and PJ Shapiro. Sommerfeld, Lauren O’Connor, head of IP & literary acquisitions at Amazon Studios, and Carmen Johnson, editorial director of Mindy’s Book Studio, will work with Kaling to find unputdownable stories with the potential to come to life on the screen.
In 2023, Amazon Publishing will also publish Kaling’s debut novel, a comedic and twisty page-turner under Mindy’s Book Studio. In 2024, Amazon Publishing will publish a new collection of personal essays in print, digital, and audio, offering Kaling’s latest reflections on life, motherhood, friendship, and being a boss. Amazon Studios has acquired first-look rights for Kaling’s forthcoming novel and essay collection.
Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honorsin the 17th Annual Best Book Awards
HarperCollins, Penguin/Random House, John Wiley and Sons, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Forge, Sterling Publishing, Hay House, Sounds True, Llewellyn Worldwide, NYU Press, Oxford University Press, John Hopkins University Press, The White House Historical Association and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!
Business: Motivational Unlock!: 7 Steps to Transform Your Career and Realize Your Leadership Potential by Abhijeet Khadikar Vicara Books
Business: Personal Finance/Investing Enhancing Retirement Success Rates in the United States: Leveraging Reverse Mortgages, Delaying Social Security, and Exploring Continuous Work by Chia-Li Chien, PhD, CFP®, PMP® Palgrave Pivot
Business: Real Estate Market Forces: Strategic Trends Impacting Senior Living Providers by Jill J. Johnson Johnson Consulting Services
Business: Reference The Non-Obvious Guide to Virtual Meetings and Remote Work (Non-Obvious Guides) by Rohit Bhargava IdeaPress Publishing
Business: Sales The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World by Marcus Sheridan IdeaPress Publishing
Business: Technology Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders by Ram Charan and Julia Yang IdeaPress Publishing
Business: Writing/Publishing Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction by Larry Brooks Writer’s Digest Books (a division of Penguin Random House)
Children’s Religious That Grand Christmas Day! by Jill Roman Lord, illustrated by Alessia Trunfio Worthy Kids
College Guides Diversity At College: Real Stories of Students Conquering Bias and Making Higher Education More Inclusive by James Stellar, Chrisel Martinez, Branden Eggan, Chloe Skye Weiser, Benny Poy, Rachel Eagar, Marc Cohen, and Agata Buras IdeaPress Publishing
Cookbooks: General Recipes from the President’s Ranch: Food People Like to Eat by Matthew Wendel The White House Historical Association
Cookbooks: International Cooking with Marika: Clean Cuisine from an Estonian Farm by Marika Blossfeldt Delicious Nutrition
Cookbooks: Regional The Perfect Persimmon: History, Recipes, and More by Michelle Medlock Adams Red Lightning Books
Current Events In All Fairness: Equality, Liberty, and the Quest for Human Dignity, edited by Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger and Christopher J. Coyne Independent Institute
Education/Academic The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning by Adam L. Saenz, PhD Greenleaf Book Group
Health: Cancer All Of Us Warriors: Cancer Stories of Survival and Loss by Rebecca Whitehead Munn She Writes Press
Health: Death & Dying Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide by Gary Roe Healing Resources Publishing
Health: Diet & Exercise Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight and Obesity by Deborah Kesten, MPH and Larry Scherwitz, PhD White River Press
Health: General True Wellness for Your Gut: Combine the best of Western and Eastern medicine for optimal digestive and metabolic health by Catherine Kurosu, MD, L.Ac. and Aihan Kuhn, CMD, OBT YMAA Publication Center
Health: Medical Reference The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD Skyhorse Publishing
Women’s Issues Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure by Seema Yasmin, illustrated by Fahmida Azim Harper Design, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Young Adult: Non-Fiction My Life, My Way: How To Make Exceptional Decisions About College, Career, and Life by Elyse Hudacsko Self-Published
The first time I met Merrill Markoe — the multi-Emmy award winning comedy writer who created such segments on the David Letterman show as “Stupid Pet Tricks,” “Stupid Human Tricks” and “Viewer Mail” — was in the living room of Barbara Stevens, who at the time was living in Hobart.
Stevens, who has since passed away, was the mother of my friend Andy Prieboy; Merrill is his partner of almost two decades. The two live in Santa Monica, California with their two dogs. Andy, a musician, and I both grew up in the Indiana Harbor section of East Chicago.
I know a lot about their romance, not from them, but by reading “The Psycho Ex Game” a darkly humorous and ultimately romantic book they wrote together about two friends competing to see whose ex is the craziest. How autobiographical it is, I don’t know for sure, but the basics are very factual. Merrill’s ex was David Letterman, though she changes his name slightly in the book. She not only was his original head writer but also his partner for 10 years. Google her name and up pops the description of her as “the key creative force behind” the Letterman show.
Andy set up a Zoom meeting so Merrill and I could talk about her book. But first he and I had to share a few stories about Indiana Harbor — we didn’t know each other growing up but we knew a lot of the same people. And Indiana Harbor being what it was, there are always stories. Merrill, as usual, was very polite about it all, but I don’t think she quite gets our enthusiasm for an old steel mill city.
And since California is always on fire, we chatted about how they’d been without electricity for 24 hours when the electric company shut off everyone’s power to prevent further conflagrations during a raging thunderstorm. “Were there fires near you?” I asked, and Andy said there are always fires. I guess it’s the new normal.
It turns out that Merrill kept diaries from her youth, and a few years ago she rediscovered them in a box she was sorting through. Many women around her age will remember these diaries — they often were protected by a tiny lock that supposedly could only be opened with a tiny key.
“I wondered what did I do that was so secret I had to keep it under lock and key?” Merrill said. Nothing it turned out, which was a good thing because those locks are very flimsy.
When she began reading the diaries, it was as if they belonged to a stranger.
“I didn’t remember two-thirds of the stuff I’d written,” she said about the years covering elementary school to college, or as Merrill puts it — spelling bees to an acid test party put on by Ken Kesey.
As she read, she drew. Merrill graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a master’s in art with the goal of becoming an art professor. She segued into comedy writing out of necessity.
“It was easier for me to get a job writing for TV than getting a job teaching art,” she said. “It hadn’t occurred to me before then that comedy was a career, that I could be doing stand-up. I had learned at that point I could write jokes, but I wasn’t someone who could write them while walking back and forth on stage in front of an audience. I’d stay home and write them.”
Illustrating her diary excerpts was part of her search into her past.
“I was looking for that spot when I turned into myself,” she said. “Where I wasn’t 12 or 13 years old observing stuff around me and making jokes. But that’s the core of myself — observing, stepping away from it and writing jokes. When I was hospitalized recently, the first thing I did was make a joke.”
Since we’re on the subject of jokes, I ask who her favorite comedians are.
“I can’t say because whoever I leave out will get mad at me,” she said.
How about dead comedians? She’s got a list: Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker who were famous in the 1920s in New York; Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Alley from the days of black and white television in the 1950s; W.C. Fields; Ernie Kovacs; and Lily Tomlin.
I pointed out she was still alive.
“I know, but I couldn’t do what she did with all those characters she played,” she said. And then we talked about how her drawings and diary passages turned into a book.
“I showed it to Andy and some friends, and they said that’s a book,” she said. “I showed it to my agent, and he sold it.”
So what does she, after all this time, think of her younger self?
“I think she was kind of an idiot,” said Merrill. “At least until she moved to Northern California.”