aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

What's in a name? Or in a look-alike cover, for that matter?

From Monday's online Publisher's Weekly:
Mysterious St. Martin’s Author Remains Unknown—Even to Her Editor
Who is Lucy Jackson?

That’s a question even her editor and publicist at St. Martin’s are asking, as they prepare to publish her novel Posh in January.

According to the St. Martin’s catalogue - which lists Posh as one of its lead titles - Lucy Jackson is an alias for “an acclaimed short story writer and novelist” whose “last novel was a New York Times Notable Book” and whose “fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, and many other magazines and anthologies.”

Pseudonyms in fiction are nothing new, of course. But the secret isn’t usually this closely held. “I still don’t know who it is,” said SMP executive editor Elizabeth Beier. She said she’s met the author only once and didn’t recognize her as anyone famous. Mostly, she and “Jackson” communicate by phone and e-mail (the author has an e-mail account under the name of Lazy Hoffman, one of the characters in the book).

“Jackson’s” agent, Maria Massie of Lippincott Massie McQuilkin, confirmed that the author is a notable literary writer, and said that was part of her reason for using a pseudonym. “Though her previous books were incredibly well reviewed and got lots of attention, her sales weren’t there. She’s savvy enough and smart enough and has enough friends in the publishing world to know that sending a more commercial book out under her name didn’t really make sense.”

Beier, however, speculated that the author wishes to remain anonymous because of her connection to the world she writes about. Posh is set at an exclusive New York City private school. If the title and description don’t remind readers of Curtis Sittenfeld’s bestseller Prep, the cover will. Posh’s cover shows a pink-and-green sweater tied at the shoulders that looks like it came from the same store as the pink-and-green belt on the jacket of Prep.

If this all sounds a bit like a publicity stunt, St. Martin’s publicity chief John Murphy insisted it’s not. He said the author dropped off manuscript pages at the St. Martin’s lobby and did not work with anyone at the house aside from Beier. Said Murphy, “It’s very bizarre.” [Full disclosure: I work in PR. No one will say, "It's very bizarre," to the media unless they have been told that's what they should say. Idle speculation, your opinions, etc = lose your job] [Full disclosure two: I don't think Sittenfeld would like to be called "commercial," judging by how she reacted to the term "chick lit." She wrote, "calling a book chick lit is akin to calling a woman a slut."]

Judge the covers for yourself [Full disclosure three: no pink on that sweater that I can see.]

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