The designer makes a match, Steve Alten hits the books, and more inside scoop on the book world from Feb. 20/27, 1998

Wang Ka-Ching
She’s created sleek nuptial frocks for the likes of Mariah Carey and Nancy Kerrigan (she also did Kerrigan’s 1994 Olympics costumes), and now Vera Wang has made a lucrative match of her own. William Morrow is paying the designer a reported $500,000 to author a lavish wedding primer. Morrow publisher Paul Fedorko says the terms of the deal are still being hammered out but promises “a soup-to-nuts guide to the entire process.” To be designed by the same folks who brought you Madonna’s Sex — how fitting! — the tome will march down bookstore aisles sometime in 1999.

Kate Rates
A year ago, Kate Morgenroth, 26, quit her assistant job at HarperCollins to write a novel. She returned to the company last December, manuscript in tow. “When she asked me to read it, I groaned,” says editor Larry Ashmead. “If a friend’s manuscript isn’t good it’s doubly difficult to say no.” But he liked her thriller The Love of Evil so much he offered her a two-book, $100,000 deal — not blockbuster numbers, but still quite respectable. Harper will publish in January 1999.

Something Fishy
It seems that Doubleday chomped off more than it could chew when it signed Steve Alten to a $2.1 million, two-book deal in 1996. Alten’s Jaws-esque debut thriller, Meg, was the publisher’s lead fiction title last summer. Though it was hyped as “Jurassic Shark” and optioned by Disney for a high six figures, the novel never caught on with book buyers. Now Doubleday has canceled Alten’s follow-up, Fathom (after promising “the most menacing heart-pounder of the year” in its 1998 summer catalog), and the author has sued for breach of contract. The book “be-came hopelessly befuddled in creative differences,” says Alten’s literary manager, Ken Atchity. Bantam Doubleday Dell spokesman Stuart Applebaum responds that “despite the best of editorial efforts, the author was unable to produce an acceptable manuscript, so we are unable to go forward with him.” Bantam is still planning to spew forth half a million paperbacks of Meg this June.