Well, all good things come to an end. This blog was originally intended to provide some coverage of the publicity for Déjà Vu and now, getting on for three months after the book’s release, it’s time to think about either (i) closing this blog or (ii) re-tasking it.
I think I’ll go for option (ii). Though the evidence of my comments on this blog may suggest otherwise, I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the naked self-promotion that we small-press authors must peddle. Some people write books because they think success will change their lives, and others find it a form of self-help. For me, writing is about honing a work of fiction for it’s own sake, just to see how far it can be taken and how much potential energy can be stuffed into its pages. It appeals to my pedantry and obsessivenesss. Some aspects of publicity are fun. Interviews, for example, because they force me to engage with the issues I’ve touched upon in my work (in fiction, of course, you can write about a character going through a crisis of identity and, so doing, raise a number of questions; in an interview, it’s not enough to raise these questions — you have to answer them!). But I think I’ve grown weary of walking into bookshops with Déjà Vu and receiving the polite shake of the head that means Déjà Vu does not show up on the bookshop’s computer because my publisher doesn’t use the same distributor as, say, Waterstone’s. I’m also tired of my myriad strategies for slipping my Guardian and SFX reviews into the conversation without sounding like a complete twat. To be fair, I’ve got quite good at this, but I find myself returning to a thought I had at the beginning of this song and dance: publicity is not writing; a beautiful and successful campaign will founder if it is not, at base, supported by a strong product. For the time being, I will continue with my policy of creating marketing opportunities for myself (I seem quite good at generating them, despite my moaning!) but I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that my talent is for writing, not marketing.
OK; so I want to take a step away from the main aim of this blog, which is to comment on publicity and marketing. In future, I’ll try to blog the nice stuff happening to writer friends, wider literary news, and perhaps some personal stuff if it’s worth a grin.
Before I do, I’ll give a brief summary of what’s been happening in This Writing Life. Aesthetica Magazine arrived this morning. It contained my short story ‘Jubilee’ — a cheerful one, inasmuch as the hero doesn’t commit suicide. No; he’s already committed suicide. Hmm. What was I saying earlier about writing being a form of self-help? Hello? Irony?
I’m set to record an interview for Emma Lloyd’s show on Radio Cornwall next Wednesday (that is, the recording is Wednesday; I’d don’t know when the interview will air). Emma has asked me to provide a couple of copies of Déjà Vu for a competition; happy to do so.
I also completed two further interviews this week (I don’t include Joe Gordon’s on Forbidden Planet Interview, since I mentioned it in my last blog). One for the Eternal Night website and one for the Open University magazine, which goes out to all staff and students.
Meanwhile, with Proper Job, my next novel, the hilarity continues apace. I’ve passed the 50,000 word mark (as a rule, about 100,000 words is good number at which to aim a novel; I’ve no doubt I’ll overshoot it, but as editing is, for me, very much a process of reduction, I’d anticipate the final book will be 80–90,000). I want to crank up the wordcount by 2000 words a day, but we’ll see how that goes. As I may have mentioned, I’ve determined to hire an editor for this book before I submit it to publishers or agents. Why am I doing this? Well, Déjà Vu was rejected every whichway by publishers and agents (those that replied, anyway) in the form I presented it (unedited), but has been gathering some good reviews following its publication (and therefore following its editing). In fact, I’ve had eight reviews for Déjà Vu and not one has been negative; writers at the forefront of science fiction have been extremely positive (Ken MacLeod and Jon Courtenay Grimwood). On the assumption that this edited version would have found a publisher, I want to get Proper Job into the best shape possible. If you’d like to help me out by proofreading a pre-publication copy of Proper Job, let me know and I can send you a copy nearer the time (June/July).