When I read this story in the Daily Mail online last April I assumed it was some sort of hoax: a writer left her manuscript on Richard and Judy’s doorstep in the hope of getting herself a book deal and as if by magic, she landed herself a deal with Orion.
But no: the article was published to coincide with the book’s publication: Ruth Saberton’s book Katy Carter Wants A Hero was published on April 1, in both paperback and Kindle editions. It all seemed to be for real but it left me with a frisson of doubt and sure enough, I was right to be skeptical.
By chance I just landed on Ruth Saberton’s website, where she explains how she really got her book deal. And it’s a much less extraordinary story than the one the Mail reported:
This manuscript attracted the attention of literary agents and I signed with the lovely Eve White
…who subsequently sold the book to Orion. And Ruth Saberton was no newcomer to publishing: she also writes under the pseudonym of Jessica Fox, and is under contract to Headline’s Little Black Dress imprint for five books, the first of which was published in May 2009.
Now, I have no beef against Ruth Saberton (in fact, I rather like the look of her books): but I do find puffery like the Daily Mail article more than a little irritating. It feeds into the myth that one has to be extraordinarily lucky, or have contacts in all the right places, in order to get published; and it patronises us, as readers, by feeding us a nice little happy-ending story in order to promote the book. What it’s done to the state of Richard and Judy’s doorstep, I hate to imagine.
However, there is a good side to this. Not only am I now following Ruth Saberton on Twitter, and am likely to buy a copy of Katy Carter Wants A Hero in the very near future, I’ve just discovered a rather splendid competition on her website which is open to all until the end of September. There’s a chance to win a holiday (or at least part of one) in the glorious Polperro, in a cottage right on the harbour. It looks just gorgeous, and I want to be there now.