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Posts Tagged ‘Ali Gunn’

Gunning for the Conservative Lifestyle

Literary agent Ali Gunn has spent her entire career managing (if occasionally manipulating) the media, but it’s not often the interview glare is shined upon her. But now the Guardian’s Sarah Ebner meets the London-based uberagent to talk about her new role as an adviser to the Conservative Party. Almost a year ago, Gunn was asked to lend her expertise to the Tories after a mutual acquaintance set up a meeting between her and David Cameron‘s closest adviser, Steve Hilton. She is now an important part of Cameron’s coterie, working for the party “at least” one day a week. It has been said that her key responsibility is to persuade women to vote Tory, but Gunn says her remit is wider than that, explaining, “What I’m actually doing is looking, overall, at what we’re doing with all our people in all our areas. It’s much more about engaging the media and the electorate in our key personalities and our policies and not just about women. It never has been.”

But women’s issues are key in Gunn’s mind as she is “working on a big new campaign about equal pay … It’s a cause that’s very close to my heart,” she adds, having worked over the years for many organizations where, “not necessarily me, but other women were woefully underpaid. It all goes back to being a working mother as well. It is very hard to juggle your life and get childcare at the right times. What do you do in school holidays and at half-term? Your life is a constant negotiation.”

Ebner finds Gunn to something of a contradiction. She is articulate but appears hesitant; and while she is clearly tough, she appears worried about how she is going to come across during the interview – she has a crib sheet with her, and ponders each answer carefully. Although she has a reputation for negotiating the biggest possible deals for her clients, Gunn is charging the Tories far less than her usual rate. “Sometimes you have to do things because you really believe in them,” she says firmly, “not for the money.”

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Ego Lands at St. Martin’s

You have to hand it to Ali Gunn. A 30,000-word proposal that top editors told us was dreadful still managed to generate a hell of a lot of buzz. And now Ego and its decidedly limited audience base and potentially tepid look at an industry that few within, let alone all those outside, really want to read about again has found a home with St. Martin’s Jennifer Weis. Deborah Schneider handled North American rights, according to PW Daily, and Gunn is allegedly close to a UK deal. When it tanks, don’t say we didn’t warn you; and if it doesn’t, well…nah.

Dateline LBF: More Ego-tastic Guesses

I swear, after this post I’ll stop because repeat after me: this book will not sell outside of London, New York and possibly LA. But since I threw out a guess yesterday that – should Ali Gunn be working the deal on her own behalf – Brian Freeman might be the American author in question, it’s only fair to publish his response. “Glad you think it’s me, but a satirical novel set in London doesn’t really sound like me, does it?” wrote Freeman yesterday evening by email. Instead, he’s deep into the fourth crime novel featuring Minnesota-based police detective Jonathan Stride (while #3, STALKED, will be out in the UK in September and in the US early next year.)

Otherwise, Author Amanda Lees submitted her guess to Publishing News: “Having read the piece on Ego…I am pretty certain that the agent concerned is Simon Trewin – a certain intriguing clue in the name of his victim underpins my suspicions! As for the author involved, it’s probably his client, Jon Fasman.” An interesting guess as Fasman’s only novel to date, THE GEOGRAPHER’S LIBRARY, was published back in 2005. If Lees is right, Gunn has promised dinner at The Ivy. And if she isn’t, that another guess out there to fan the flames for a book that, well, why bother repeating myself, right?

Dateline LBF: Ego-tistical

At this point, I’ve no doubt that the already overhyped proposal Ali Gunn‘s been peddling around the LBF halls will find a home on both sides of the Atlantic, but to call it, as PW Daily does, “the talk of the fair” seems to fit in with the overhype. But don’t take my word for it, see what the publishing insider Gawker‘s Emily Gould recruited to give his or her opinion on the proposal opined: “Everyone is having great fun trying to pick out who the characters are modeled after and who the writer is. Beyond that, there is absolutely nothing to care about except to wonder idly how an internationally bestselling writer and a well-known agent could have put together such a resoundingly flagrant piece of utter crap without realizing (or maybe just without caring) how crappy it actually is. Also, the sex scenes are really really terrible.”

brian-freeman.jpgPW Daily’s piece pretty much rehashes PN’s story from Monday but adds the extra tidbit that many people at LBF figure that Gunn is the agent in question co-authoring EGO and GREED along with the American male author already mentioned. If that’s the case, looking at Gunn’s client list, the only “internationally published American male writer” who might fit the criteria is Brian Freeman (right), a Minnesota-based crime writer whose debut novel IMMORAL (2005) was nominated for the Edgar Award. That and his two follow-ups, STRIPPED AND STALKED, are published by St. Martin’s Press in the US and Headline in the UK. The catch, and it’s a big enough one to sway me against this particular guess is that Freeman is “published in 46 countries and 16 languages” according to his website, and PN’s story claims the author is “published in 17 countries” but they could be mixing things up intentionally to avoid accurate guesses and Gunn having to buy the winner dinner…

Dateline LBF: Deals ‘o the Day

  • HarperCollins gets the UK rights to Andre Agassi‘s memoirs. (PN)
  • Sceptre gets UK dibs on Michael Chabon‘s NYT-serialized adventure novel GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD. (PN)
  • Arcadia pays largest-ever advance for biography of London mayor Ken Livingstone. (The Bookseller)
  • Ali Gunn gets Jenny Colgan a 1 million pound-plus deal for her next novel. (PN)
  • Kim Scott Walwyn Prize created to honor women in publishing. (The Guardian)
  • Random House gets Exporting Nibbie. (PN)
  • And according to the LBF Guide, we’re in the Year of the Potato. Awesome. (WFHIT?)

Dateline LBF: Yet Another Prada Clone Makes the Rounds

The Fair only just got underway a few hours ago but already, some pricey, buzz-laden deals are filtering out from the halls of Earls Court to the book trade publications’ daily broadsheets and online arms. First up is Ali Gunn chatting up a couple of linked novels by saying “What PRIMARY COLORS was to Capitol Hill, EGO will be to the media world.” The attraction for EGO and its follow-up, GREED isn’t that either book is complete, but that its co-authors are doing their damndest to stay anonymous, reports Publishing News. The male half is American and “an international author published in 17 countries.” His co-writer is an agent, based in London but working on both sides of the Atlantic, “a master of the ins and outs of agency life,” said Gunn, though she refused to be drawn on the agent’s sex or age, adding simply that “they’re old enough to buy a drink but too young to retire.”

Gunn is trying very hard to drum up attention by only showing the first 30,000 words and synopsis to “a select group of hand-picked editors” (Deborah Schneider will work the US publishing beat) but unless she can really, truly convince said publishers to then turn around and show how these books will reach a broader audience than, say, BECAUSE SHE CAN or BLIND SUBMISSION or any number of DEVIL WEARS PRADA knockoffs, then EGO and GREED will just end up being the latest in a series of media-driven earnout bombs. Of course, one can still have quite a lot of fun guessing the authors’ identities – I rather like Curtis Brown agent Elizabeth Sheinkman as the agent half…