This article, by Alison Flood, originally appeared on The Guardian UK site’s Books section on 9/15/11. In it, you’ll learn about novelist Polly Courtney, a successful self-publisher who was picked up by Harper Collins and subsequently decided to go back to self-publishing due to her dissatisfaction with Harper’s branding of her books.
Courtney self-published Golden Handcuffs, a fictional exposé of life in the City, in 2006 after quitting her job as an investment banker, following it up in 2008 with Poles Apart, about an ambitious Polish graduate who moves to London. Their success helped land her a three-book deal with HarperCollins imprint Avon, but at the launch of the third book, It’s A Man’s World, she announced that she would not be working with the publisher again.
Instead, she is planning to return to the world of self-publishing.
"My writing has been shoehorned into a place that’s not right for it," she said this morning. "It is commercial fiction, it is not literary, but the real issue I have is that it has been completely defined as women’s fiction … Yes it is page turning, no it’s not War and Peace. But it shouldn’t be portrayed as chick lit."
It’s a Man’s World (given the tagline by Avon, "but it takes a woman to run it") is set in the world of lads’ mags, following the story of Alexa Harris, asked to head up a magazine, Banter, with an all-male editorial team. Subjected to "light-hearted" misogyny in the office, Alexa also finds herself the victim of a hate campaign by women’s rights activists.
"I’m not averse to the term chick lit," said Courtney, "but I don’t think that’s what my book is. The implication with chick lit is that it’s about a girl wanting to meet the man of her dreams. [My books] are about social issues – this time about a woman in a lads’ mag environment and the impact of media on society, and feminism."