Five or six weeks to publication of THE ILLUSIONISTS. The protracted business of getting a book from first manuscript version to bookstore or device is almost done. There’s one more meeting to be attended – my agent and my publicist and I will meet the publishers later this month for a strategic round-up. My agent and I will hope to hear good news about the ‘sell-in’ to the book trade and pre-orders, and about marketing campaigns. The book is going to be WHSmith’s Deal of the Week, which is good news. What else? Will Tesco be taking it? What are the numbers? How does it all look? At this point, there’s not much more I can contribute. It’s down to the sales and marketing teams. Books aren’t product, of course. But they have to be sold…. and, against the stiff competition for what I understand is called ‘the leisure pound’, sold hard.
In turn my publicist Annabel and I will tell them about the press and review coverage we hope to have achieved, and I’ll talk about what I have been doing on social media here and elsewhere. For example – with the help of some generous and creative friends I have devised, scripted, shot and edited a video trailer for the book. This is the link if you haven’t seen it:
It was lots of laughs to do, although in retrospect it also took quite a bit of time and creative juice when I should really have been working on the new book. This is what writers always feel whenever they are doing anything else with their lives. Even as I type this I’m naggingly aware that I haven’t yet written the scene I wanted to finish today! Later, once the present book is published, I’ll be going to speak about THE ILLUSIONISTS at book festivals and reading groups. I enjoy doing this, but the same guilt will prevail.
However: all of this combined effort will, we hope, add up to SALES.
This morning over my cup of coffee I was reading The Author, which is the journal for members of the Society of Authors. Two viewpoints about this business of authorial self-promotion struck me. One was a quote from do-it-yourself author Talli Roland, who says she spends half her day writing and the other half publicising her work. Admittedly she is self published and therefore doesn’t have the back up I receive from a large commercial publishing house – but HALF of her time? If she were able to write full time would there be twice as much, or would there be the same amount but twice as good?
It’s a frivolous speculation, but the increasing obligation to self-promote is a topic I keep coming back to. The second quote comes from Terence Blacker, novelist and columnist. He says ‘do not spend your vital writerly essence on publicity, and yet do not avoid it entirely in a spirit of Salingeresque self-importance’. Uh, I’m not quite sure how to reconcile the two poles of that, but I think I get his general drift. I’ll just carry on writing this modest blog, then.
Finally, four more of my back list titles are now available in digital form with these bright new covers. CELEBRATION was my first book, written more than 30 years ago when I was at home with my new baby son, and FOLLIES was the second. They are a young woman’s work, mostly concerned with love in its conventional forms. I’m quite a literal writer, and I mostly do what I know. The other two are from the middle era, when life seemed a less romantic matter. A reader was remarking recently that she found a couple of the earlier books less satisfying than the more complex later ones. I’m pleased to think I’ve developed…