Monday, February 28, 2005

Confession 4: Amazon Confessions


Number of Amazon reviews received over two novels: 13 (erp)

Number of top *****Amazon reviews by author friends (unsolicited, they know how much it means): 4

Number of top *****Amazon reviews by mates (unsolicited): 3

Number of top *****Amazon reviews by complete strangers: 2

Number of bottom bummer * (Heading: "I'm sorry I wasted my money on this book") Amazon reviews by complete strangers (?) (utter bitch cow): 1

Number of times I check my Amazon rating: Once a day. (Part of logging onto computer morning ritual, along with e-mail, (currently 851 highest score yet);;
& 1 game of freecell (sign that writing going well at moment).

Number of times I Google myself and my books: Once a week (very surprising activity. Have just discovered secondhand books on e-bay, a new supplier of narcissistic overload. Recently uncovered a lovely review by an Aussie trying to flog novel. It had had two bids and reached 3 Australian dollars.

Number of times I inspect Once a fortnight. (Disappointing activity, despite having 'freed' one of my own books. It was picked up by a librarian who liked the game but was put off by the primary colours of the OTT commercial cover.)

Number of times I check my mates' books out on Amazon: Once a week.

Number of times I check my rivals' books out on Amazon: Once a month. (Relative: at time of publication this rises to 5 - 15 times a day in tandem with own hysterical ratings obsession.).

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Confession 3 Overheard

'He went to sleep with a pizza on his face.'
London bus last week

Daughter and friend were playing blind man's buff pick up sticks earlier. The 'on' player is blindfolded, takes two pick up sticks and uses them like chopsticks, picking up sticks by remote instructions from friend. They both wear walkie talkie headphones which makes it more technical, a bit like home-made version of The Golden Shot.

After a while they came into my office, complaining of voices on the headset. I listened and heard every word of conversation from the house next door via their baby monitor.



To use this, to even consider using this would be an evil snooping thing to do of the highest order. Overheard conversations are the choicest found objects of a writer. They come into your life of their own accord through the fug of everyday wandering around doing things other. You can't go and look for them or have them handed to you like this.

When the girls got bored and went off downstairs to watch telly I tip toed into daughter's room and grabbed the headset. A conversation was in full flow about about buying two for one. I ripped the headphones off and held them away from me between two fingers. No, no, no. Snippets have to be overheard at random points in daily life. All snooping throws up is dross and feelings of being the saddest spider in the box. The best can't be made up and come when you're least expecting them. Long may it be so.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, speak again soon.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Confession 2 Publication worries

'Getting published is like farting at a party.'

Philip Larkin

It's an odd experience all round, especially the first time.

My first publication worries in ascending order of sleepless night panic:

  • The estate agent from Chestertons, Tower Bridge Road will recognise herself and sue me. Changing hair colour isn't enough.
  • Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will both read the book all the way through, see "coo coo ca choo" as their copyright and immediately get on the phone to each other to discuss lawyers.
  • The sex scenes will be read by my mother, the vicar, the man in the sweetshop and my daughter's headmistress. This is excrutiating. Including graphic detail in cheap, tawdry desperation to get on publishing ladder now seems like a very bad idea indeed.
  • Somebody will want to interview me.
  • Nobody will want to interview me.
After the high of the launch party, organised with the help of friends and the local bookshop, I drifted around in a bubble of love for my friends and relatives and high anxiety dictated by what everyone I bumped into said. Everything in my tiny author mind was categorised by whether they mentioned the book or didn't mention the book. The don't mentions were excrutiating, why weren't they saying anything? I know they've got a copy so they must have hated it. Acquaintances were the worst, like the mum in the playground who came up to say she'd read it but didn't give any comment.

Like every new author I grumbled about the big bookshop sales policies, publishers pay hefty sums to get their favoured books on those tables, and I checked the reviews from The TLS to Heat. I worked hard to promote the book, getting a short story into Woman's Own and a travel piece in The Sunday Times. There were mentions rather than reviews in a few women's magazines, a piece in the local paper and one interview with Radio Jersey. This live down-the-line phone interview was so terrifying I realised the lack of publicity for my book wasn't such a bad thing after all. So, all in all a strange cocktail of emotions. Feeling loved by my friends and family, neglected by the big wide world of publishing and deep relief because of it.

Bye bye, speak again soon and thanks for visiting.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Confession 1 Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome to my blog.

I've just spent ages telling you all about me, only to lose it somehow after 'publication'. Seems I'm never going to get the hang of this publishing business. So, here we go again, a much shortened version because I'm tired and the children are still up watching DVDs (3 in a row, thanks Blockbuster) and it's dinnertime .

1. They say that once you're a published author you never walk into a bookshop in the same way ever again. This is true. After the first of my two novels was published this became a nervous high street tic. And as my surname is at the arse end of the alphabet, this meant going to the lowest shelves in the darkest corners and getting flat down on stomach to inspect my (nearly always) absence. These days it's a permanent absence, my books being history (2003 and 2004). You get about three months on the shelves if you're lucky before they start sending them back as 'returns' and getting the next batch of hopeful newbies in.

2. I also can't look at a photograph in a magazine or any scene on television or in a movie where a bookshelf is present without turning my head sideways and looking for my titles. I even do this with old movies and photographs of Winston Churchill.

Bye for now, speak soon and thanks for visiting.