Being enigmatic is the last thing you can accuse writers of being nowadays. I wonder if there are many novelists left who retain an air of mystery with all the pressures of self-promotion that come as part and parcel of every book launch. The romantic notion of earning a living as a reclusive creative who only appears to hand their manuscript into a publisher before vanishing to their remote farmhouse retreat is more or less dead – unless the writer just doesn’t need the money anymore. Maybe there is a handful that can still do this but chances are their books would disappear as quickly as they did.
My novel STOP ME hit shops and Internet sites on the 4th August and the one thing I’ve learnt on the run up to publication is that as a writer you have to make yourself as accessible as possible. First and foremost you have to be accessible to the most important people- readers. Without them you wouldn’t have any sort of career – or, at least, the beginnings of one. Feedback is vital – from agents and editors. But whose opinion is more vital than the people who are going part with their hard-earned to pack you in their bag and have you at their bedside?
This isn’t something to be daunted by because the Internet enables every writer not only to interact with the people they hope to entertain/provoke/offend/amuse but also to find the new support base of bloggers and enthusiasts who can be so instrumental in bringing their work to the notice of a wider readership.
These people are usually unpaid but have a huge passion for the sort of books they review and blog about and I think are now an indispensable influence in an increasingly competitive market. I’ve already hooked up with some extremely friendly and helpful bloggers who have a very decent and honest approach to the whole process. Yesterday, one of them extended the courtesy of showing me his review before it was posted. I was relieved to find that it was largely positive but there was some constructive criticism within it that I’m quite happy to have out there – particularly as he gave me the option to respond to it via his blog. Writers can’t tamper with the subjective process but the Internet does allow you the opportunity to elongate a debate.
Some of my favourite novels are hated by critics and even like-minded friends. Opinion –positive and negative - has to be welcomed and analysed. There’s always something useful that can be extracted particularly when it comes to penning your next book.
So as well as putting the finishing touches to the STOP ME website, YouTube book trailer and looking forward to a handful of signings with the Curzon Group and my own at Waterstones I’ve also enjoyed connecting with an interesting society of new people. Individuals who have been generous with their time in the nebulous and unquantifiable world of promo who will not only get the word out about my book but, along with the people whom I hope will read it, will shape with their opinions the next thing I write.