NEW YORK – Andrea Sachs' job duties went beyond what you'd expect for a magazine assistant -- laying out lunch on fine china, sorting laundry and chauffeuring a newly neutered dog -- to appease her boss from hell.
Sachs is a fictional character, but The Devil Wears Prada author who created her, Laura Weisberger, once worked for Anna Wintour, the infamously icy editor of Vogue.
Coincidence? Hardly, darling.
The seemingly ab-fab world of fashion editorial can be hellish for its underlings as is detailed in the latest lit trend. Two books that profess to dish all the dirt about the dark side of the biz are about to hit the shelves.
Fashionistas by former InStyle copyeditor Lynn Messina comes out in March, and The Devil Wears Prada by ex-Vogue assistant Weisberger debuts in June.
"[These books] fulfill a lot of people's fantasies about getting back at their bosses," said Laura Miller, book editor for Salon.com.
By creating unflattering characters in similar settings, writers "can humiliate these people without doing anything libelous," she said.
The surprise best seller of 2002, The Nanny Diaries, opened the gate for revenge lit, Miller said.
"That led to a lot of young writers thinking, 'What sort of powerful older richer people do I know that I can screw in a fictional format to the great satisfaction of all the other people in my age group,'" she said.
The main character in Fashionistas (Red Dress Ink), is so miserable at her job that she plots to bring down the evil editor-in-chief. Messina, 30, admits the novel is inspired by her experience freelancing at InStyle, but maintains it's purely fiction.
Now, she's working on another book and still copyediting -- just not for her previous employer. When word of her novel leaked, Messina said her superiors at InStyle told her not to come back.
"I have no bad feelings toward InStyle. I just thought some things that happened there were utterly ridiculous," said Messina. "I assured my boss [the book] is not about anybody … nobody asked to read the book, it seems like someone just panicked."
InStyle didn’t return calls for comment.
Author Lauren Weisberger, 25, sold the rights to her Prada to Doubleday Broadway for $200,000, and Fox Searchlight bought the movie rights, The New York Times reported. The ex-Vogue employee also contends that her book is fiction and told Publishers Weekly that working with Wintour was "a great experience."
But are these authors really dishing or just cat-walking around the dirt?
Caroline Fennessy Campion, a magazine editor who covers books, said Prada is fine for a quick beach read, but not salacious enough to qualify as a true behind-the-scenes memoir.
"It takes guts to write a book like You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again – 'My career is over in this industry and I'm going to lay it all out,'" she said. "[Prada] is so safe and close to the vest."
But dissing a boss on paper is a "low blow" according to Lesley Carlin, co-author of the etiquette guide, Things You Need to Be Told.
"This seems like the most effective way in the world to burn all of your bridges," she said. "If you really aren't writing about someone in particular it’s shady to bring your own background in to market it, but then say, 'Oh, but it's not about me.'"
Ethics aside, the lucrative rewards are rising faster than hemlines for fashion turncoats.
The Bergdorf Blondes (no publication date announced) is a novel by Plum Sykes, a Vogue writer, who received a widely reported $650,000 advance for her tale of an expatriate Brit juggling Manhattan's fashion and social scene.
And it’s not just low-on-the-totem-pole lovelies who are penning their frustrations.
GQ editor Art Cooper, who recently announced he's retiring, told the New York Post he's finishing his 600-page roman a clef based on life at the Conde Nast empire.
But it's women in high places that reel in readers, who want to see powerful editors knocked down, Miller said.
"Fashion magazines tend to have women in charge, and women in power attract this kind of fictional approach," she said. "So maybe readers want to see fashion poo-bahs dragged down and mocked by underlings."