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Author fires publisher

12 September 2011

Last week saw the unusual spectacle of an author leaving her publisher because she thought the covers they put on her new book were inappropriate. Polly Courtney said the image was too racy - and she wanted her novel to be taken more seriously.

Courtney took the unusual step of firing her publishers at her launch party, which may have been a rather counterintuitive moment to choose if she wants them to sell her book. It's after they have published three of her books that she accused HarperCollins UK of 'patronising women' with 'fluffy' marketing campaigns.

Perhaps one can just conclude that she's a toughie who likes to pick a fight. Her previous career in the City came to an end because she accused her employers of sexism and she then went on to write an expose of life in the Square Mile.

Her novel follows the fortunes of a woman trying to make it at a lads' magazine - facing a personal crisis when she realises she has forfeited her principles in the process. The jacket features a slender pair of women's legs in high heels and a short skirt with curly writing reading: 'It's a man's world - but it takes a woman to run it'.

But is it likely that HarperCollins would have published Polly Courtney's book with a cover she detested? Most authors are consulted at least but even though publishers consider the jacket to be something they should have the last word on, it is rare for them to find their views completely ignored.

Perhaps other things went wrong. It is tempting to see it as a publicity stunt but Courtney was resolute on the subject of the future:

'For those of you wondering what next for Polly Courtney, I can promise you that there will be more books. 'I can also promise you that they will not be published by HarperCollins or any other large publishing house. (She self-published one other novel before being picked up by HarperCollins, which published a further two before today's release.)

'I will be 'taking things in-house', so to speak, and returning to self-publishing,' she said.