Friday, March 11, 2005

Confession 13 The Four Things That Happen to New Authors

The 4 things they say happen when you become an author:

  • You acquire a Penelope.

A Penelope is another author launched at same time as you. There are thousands to choose from every month, which one sticks is a matter of chance. It could be to do with genre or same publishing house, whichever, they are more loved by their publishers and PR people, get more publicity and make more money than you. Penelopes can and do appear later in a career, Neville Shute was Anthony Burgess' Penelope, Posh Spice is Jordan's Penelope.

  • You never walk into a bookshop in the same way ever again

See Confession 1. I would add that the pleasure of finding your book on the shelves is dampened by the realisation that it hasn't sold and the pleasure of not finding your rival's books on the shelves is squashed by the almost definite fact that they've probably flown out of the shop like hot cakes. And then there's the returns business. Three to six months later your books will be gone. The only way to stop this is to sign them. With book 1 I innocently did a tour of local and West End bookshops and signed happily away. I even had an author moment in Waterstones Piccadilly where the friendly assistant cleared a sofa, shooing the occupant off by hissing that an author was present and they needed to sit down to do some signing. It would have been my finest bookshop moment by far if the occupant hadn't been an old lady taking a rest. I was too gobsmacked by what I'd just heard to intervene. At another bookshop, however, they didn't just say yeah go ahead, the girl spent a long time checking her computer, for what I don't know, before consenting. How would it be to be refused? After that I stopped and did none of it for book 2 apart from the friendly local bookshop. It occurred to me I could be anybody at all. They don't check identity. Perhaps when I'm an old lady I'll spend my days being any author I choose, signing away.

  • You lose 3 friends

True. Well, two anyway. But two big ones.

  • You put on weight

Fairly obvious but depressing fact. Atkins-like crash diets before publication in case book is instant hit and all the magazine and newspaper photographers come calling only add to yo yo effect. Latest attempt to drop the extra stone is running in park for 10 minute a day. Like word-count calculations, it all adds up: 5 times a week = 50 minutes of running. The other problem is am into swing of writing by lunchtime, after endless avoidance tactics, and, having got there, the last thing I want to do is stop. This means that by teatime am starving and start picking at rubbish food.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

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