A crowdfunding appeal to publish a book by the late Paul Sidey, Hutchinson’s former editorial director, has been set up on Unbound.
Sidey, who died in September 2014, worked at Hutchinson for 31 years before retiring in early 2012.
His authors included Ruth Rendell and the late Richard Attenborough.
A fundraising page has been set up on the crowd-sourced publishing platform Unbound to raise money to publish The Book of Wag, written by Sidey after his retirement.
The book is a “cross between family memoir and fiction” and covers the Western Front, World War II and up to the “political tumult of the ‘70s”.
Sidey had wanted to write a novel for a long time, but was kept busy with “nurturing other authors’ careers”, says the Unbound appeal.
“After he retired in January 2012, Paul finally powered up his laptop, and the fiction began just pouring out,” the appeal contines. “And when he realised he was at last losing his 14-year battle against cancer, he started writing The Book of Wag in an obsessive frenzy, against the deadline of impending oblivion, and managed to finish it mere months before his death in September last year. His dying wish was to see it published.”
The Book of Wag is narrated by Wag, a veteran of the First World War, and his nephew Jack and features a cast of characters including the “richly eccentric Bolton family”.
“Drawing on Sidey’s own uncle’s handwritten, unreliable World War I memoir and his recollection of family stories, in its playful interplay of fact, history and invention, the book evokes Doctorow and Tristram Shandy,” says the appeal page. “It is funny, tender, sometimes violent, hugely enjoyable and unlike anything you will have read for a long time.”
Patrick Janson-Smith, who formerly worked at Blue Door Books and is now editor-at-large for Apostrophe Books and a non-executive director at Kingsford Campbell, and was a friend of Sidey’s, said he loved the book and described it as an “utterly charming novel”.
“It deserves to be published, not only because it's Paul, but because it's a richly-woven tapestry of a certain time (well, times) and of another London, erudite and witty and brimming with life,” he said. “I won't pretend I worked out the encryption at the end, but I will keep trying.”
He added to The Bookseller that he read the book shortly before Sidey died. “I read it very quickly and really, really liked it,” he said. “I thought it was a very moving piece of work.”
A variety of rewards are being offered to people who donate. A £10 donation will get the donor an e-edition of the book and their name in the back of the book, while a £20 donation includes a first edition clothbound hardback of The Book of Wag as well.
The reward for a £50 donation is a limited edition, hand-numbered first editions of the hardback in addition to the rewards for smaller donations, while donors who give £150 will also get two tickets to the launch party, as well as a first edition hardback, e-book edition, and their name in the back of the book.
The highest donation that can be made is for £300, and in addition to previous rewards, also includes being listed as a friend at the front of the book.
So far 9% of the funds needed for the book to be published have been pledged.
A memorial service was held for Sidey on Friday 16th January.