I may not read Go Set A Watchman.
(This is Harper Lee’s book—author of To Kill a Mockingbird—that has been published amongst a great deal of criticism.)
From all accounts, I am pretty sure it was not intended for publication.
A much larger opportunity for legacy building is being overlooked. That is a shame. But more on this in a bit.
Consider some the players, props, and backdrops here:
We have all the components of an epic, Southern, gothic tale.
Go Set a Watchman: Spin is the Symptom
The latest account is that Harper Lee’s “estate trustee, lawyer, and friend” whom, upon uncovering the manuscript in a safe deposit box, and confirming the work was distinct from To Kill a Mockingbird, left the room.
Yes, she walked out of the room leaving a literary agent and appraiser.
This was in 2011.
Remember the manuscript was “discovered” in 2014. Or was it 1960?
And so publishers, sales reps, and attorneys—in the lyrical language of the HarperCollins news release—are “humbled” and “amazed” in the presence of this “masterpiece.”
Of course they are! There is an epic payday coming!
What About Harper Lee?
By all reports she can’t very well answer for herself, so her spokesperson—the same lawyer in line to get paid—is doing it for her.
Indulge my doppleganger, but if Lee’s attorney and executor delayed publication, let us say for 10 years, that would be without the author’s tacit approval.
As long as the author is around to supply a statement for a news release, that makes this all okay.
Sure it is. Harper Lee has not given an interview in 55 years.
As Marcellus quipped, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
And so it is in the hamlet of Monroeville.
Legacy is the Antidote
But don’t write that gothic-style ending yet.
Make no mistake, there is a huge opportunity here to create an inspiring narrative. That is what we flacks do best after all—craft stories that inspire, earn attention, and build lasting relationships.
Go Set a Watchman begs to be a part of something greater than a retail transaction. There would be no To Kill a Mockingbird without it.
So let’s consider how some of the proceeds can inspire greater stories and outcomes:
- Establish a legal aid fund for wrongly convicted, minority defendants.
- Endow a foundation to cultivate the next generation of Southern authors.
- Restore funding to Alabama’s primary, secondary, and higher ed systems left wanting after years of draconian cuts.
Any of the these ideas offers a narrative framework befitting the lives, careers, and legacies of Alice and Harper Lee.
And, you know what else?
It would enable powerful PR earning exposure, coverage, and profits. People want to do business with, and buy products from, organizations that enable inspiring outcomes.
Creating the right narrative is always the best business. It makes the difference between a one-hit wonder and a legacy .
Tell me now…what do you think?