Thursday, 19 October 2006

Sarah Waters' Publishers - Again

Following this episode and after hearing nothing from the publishers, I visited Little Brown's website (Little Brown is Virago's mother company) and sent an email of complaint to all the directors and head of departments whom I thought could have anything to do with this.

In response, I have received the following email:

I am writing to introduce myself as Group Marketing Director of Little, Brown Book Group, a job that encompasses the marketing, publicity and design departments.

I was shocked by the contents of your email and can only apologise that you received such correspondence from our company. You are right to regard this as poor business practice; it is highly unprofessional and in no way reflects the high standards of business conduct that we seek to achieve.

I must further apologise that I am at a loss to explain the circumstance of the email since the person in question left our employment on Friday 29 September. I would like to stress three points: (1) that Clara Womersley is a person of excellent character, that she left our company on very good terms and that her email therefore comes as a great surprise; (2) that the relationship between Clara and Sarah Waters was formal and professional and could in no way be intended to convey the suggested behaviour of Ms Waters; (3) that Sarah Waters insists on seeing all correspondence - by mail or email - that is addressed to her and answers it personally or via our publicity department as soon as she is able.

Sarah is one of the warmest and most down-to-earth authors I have worked with and I would hate you to have been given the impression that being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize would make Sarah think any differently about her readership, which I know she cares for very much.

I am copying in our publicity director [name deleted], to ensure that your original email is forwarded to Sarah. I must warn you that this year is exceptionally busy for Sarah and that she has already decided what type of events she can feasibly fit around UK publication, publication of her many foreign editions, and - of course - her writing. So please can I ask you to be sympathetic if the answer is a 'no'.

I must thank you for bringing this matter to my attention and end by apologising again that you received such a reply from our office.

Yours sincerely.
I find this reply quite satisfactory even if it doesn't explain what happened.

In a separate email from the publicity director who also apologised, I have now learned the Sarah Waters has agreed to attend to the events I have invited her to. I am just not too sure how they want to proceed for this to happen. Trust me, I will keep on nagging them though...

For the rest of the story, click here and here.

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