The inside scoop on the book world

By Clarissa Cruz
Updated September 24, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

P not shy We’ve heard of vanity projects, but this is a bit much: Rap impresario Master P agreed to have his photo and name appear on the cover of the recent novel Animal Cruelty as a favor to first-time author Clifton E. Tiddle. But then P began to claim the book as his own. On the liner notes to his 1998 CD I Got the Hook-Up!, he trumpeted, ”Look for the new book written by Master P, Animal Cruelty.” ”It bothered me at first,” the author admits. ”But I figured that the truth would come out.” Sniffs a spokesperson at the rapper’s No Limit label, ”It sounds like [Tiddle’s] grasping for publicity.”

Amen to that! Publishers can pray for these kinds of numbers, but unassuming little Tyndale House in Carol Stream, Ill., actually has them: Almost 8 million copies of their wildly popular ”Left Behind” series of postapocalyptic novels have been sold since 1995. The sixth installation, Assassins, is at No. 3 on the New York Times best-seller list (which is compiled without sales figures from Christian bookstores, where the bulk of ”Left Behind” books are sold) and will have 1,650,000 copies in print by Oct. 1. And the film rights to the inaugural tome have just been sold to Namesake Entertainment and Cloud Ten Pictures. Not bad for a Christian publishing house formerly best known for biblical translations. The word-of-mouth success was totally unexpected for Tyndale, which initially gave coauthors Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye a one-book deal. (The scribes have since signed on until fall 2003 for a total of 12 books, and the spin-off series ”Left Behind: The Kids” launched last summer.) Says Jenkins: ”It’s the wish of every Christian author to not just be preaching to the choir.”