How far to go when trying to publish?

Good MayorNow, here’s something I think I’d advise against, no matter how desperate you are to get your book noticed. Although if this is the sort of thing that turns your crank…

Andrew Nicoll, on his agent’s advice, allowed her to pass him off as a woman, as she tried to get publishers interested in his book, The Good Mayor. His article describing the situation was published this week in the Books Section of the Globe and Mail. In the article, A miss, then a hit,” he talks about how his agent told him that “If a woman had written this book, it would be deep and insightful and moving…. If a man had written it, it would be creepy.”

It seems to me that that should probably have been the first red flag. Perhaps the flag that made him yell, “Run away! Run away!”

He learned a great deal more about the other assumptions in the publishing industry, though, at least as it was in London at the time. (Like the one that says if something worked before, then everything that follows has to be done the same way. You’d think the people he ran into were the same idea-bereft people who are currently running Hollywood. But I digress…)

Nicoll was fortunate that his agent finally dropped him when she couldn’t seem to market the book with him as a female, or under any category (or meme) she could dream up for it.

He finally got his own deal, as himself. And the book has been published in 19 countries now. While half of his agent’s current clients, as he says, “remain unsold.” He’s not that fond of the crowd that his agent ran with, as you can imagine.

I guess this is a good object lesson that there’s probably a limit to how much you should try to masquerade for the sake of getting published.

On the other hand, tell that to George Eliot…


1 Comment

Filed under * Getting published

One response to “How far to go when trying to publish?

  1. Andrew

    Thanks for the mention but the story is already out of date – it’s 20 countries now since we just signed a Chinese deal. Now, if just one in a million buys the book, I’m a made man!

    Thank you, too, for carrying a picture. That’s the US edition which comes out in September. The Canadian edition (I see you are Canadian) is just gorgeous and by far my favourite.
    It’s here.

    Thanks again


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