Lemony Snicket and How to Publicize Your Book Without Trying

In Children's by Dennis Abrams

By Dennis Abrams

Famed “author” Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), known for his best-selling Series of Unfortunate Events, in what some are calling one more unfortunate event, “accidentally” spilled the beans on his latest publishing venture, a four-book autobiographical account of his childhood to be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers this fall. The following email, republished by Canada’s Quill and Quire was sent in a “reply all” mailing to publicists everywhere:

From: Lemony Snicket
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2010
To: Vansickle, Vikki
Subject: RE: Lemony Snicket Announcement – CONFIDENTIAL

My Dear Ms. VanSickle:

As I have already explained at length to you and others in this publishing conspiracy: no.

Take this press release back, please. I have attached it here. I have sympathy for anyone wanting to promote my work, but none of this information can be released.

In particular, I do not want to see this press release distributed to the list of people I’ve taken care to blind copy above  May they remain forever blind to any information about myself or my work.

These books are questionable and contain questions. I, for one, question why anyone would be interested in reading them.

And have the decency to leave Seth out of it  He has enough trouble as a celebrated artist imprisoned in a basement studio in some wretched university town, not to mention the fact that he’s Canadian.

I would appreciate it if you didn’t contact me again. I’ll be in my office until 4.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket

The email was accompanied by a “press release” with a placeholder for a quote from Seth (“if and when he recovers from the trauma of your last encounter”), and a marked-up version of the cover.

The official press release arrived in publicists’ emails a mere 15 minutes later, confirming Who Could That Be at This Hour?, the first of four “autobiographical” books in the “All The Wrong Questions” series, which will explore Snicket’s youth “in a fading town, far from anyone he knew or trusted,” will be published simultaneously in hardcover, audio, and e-book formats on October 23, with a one-million copy first printing.

And unlike the notoriously reclusive author, Little, Brown is excited about the book’s publication. “We are thrilled to be publishing this compelling new series by Mr. Snicket, which will at long last reveal the renowned author’s mysterious past,” said Little, Brown BFYR senior v-p and publisher Megan Tingley in a statement.

We at Publishing Perspectives are merely disappointed that Mr. Snicket didn’t take the time to warn us off the subject himself.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.