So book 2 hits the shelves today!!! Exciting stuff – The Big Wild World – a must have, essential read, definite collectors item. In fact, some might say it’s a rollercoaster of emotion that will leave you begging for more ‘animal tails’ and veterinary tribulations – so much so, you’ll just have to buy another one and read it again. A novel that should feature in every book club in the world and I know you’re already sold on it but just in case you need a bit more persuading; not only can this book entertain you, but it is big and heavy – you can prop open doors, block drafts and carry it around looking like a serious reader of proper big books. You can even build towers if you buy several – they stack brilliantly.
You may think that writing a book was the actual process of, say, writing it. But to get the point of publication is in fact a milestone of sweat, tears and sore fingers. The graft of writing was a joy – the gaps between consults, last thing at night, first thing in the morning. Blasts of 200-300 words and if I got a clear hour I might nail 1500. Winner. It poured out and I loved it. So surely the challenge was in that first blast of energy? Not even close. The book then goes through numerous editorial reads, tweaks here, there and everywhere, character developments are requested – minor changes like – can you give this person a bit more colour and depth through chapters 3-7? Saying they were wearing a blue jumper and standing in a hole doesn’t crack it. And then, just when you think it is sorted, it gets a legal read – the joys of the modern world.
So finally the text gets there, and the publisher has to decide on a cover. Everyone judges a book by its cover, lets be honest, so it’s a frantic time and then we’re in for the really big bit – the build up to the publicity.
Publicity. Seems a tiny part of writing a book but is about a third of the effort of the whole process. I was profoundly informed that anyone can build a boat, as long as it floats you’re away – it’s the sailing that’s the hard bit. And so learning to sail I must – or in this case plug my book as much as I can decently get away with. Incidentally, I actually think you could build a boat out of my books and as it happens, from today, you can get loads of them on Amazon so give it a go.
My efforts of publicity with Book 1 had varying degrees of success.
“How am I supposed to structure my talks?’ I asked the powers that be.
Lisa, a high priestess of the book world, and in my case the publisher managing the prestigious Two Roads imprint at Hodder, looked at me. She was clearly wondering if she had taken a Gamble in more ways than one with my literary efforts.
“Funny anecdotes, engage the audience, draw them into your life – and show pictures, pictures are good. Make people laugh.”
I nodded sagely. Not a single funny thing came to mind other than my attempts to entertain my children with an animal puppet. I doubted the routine would sell many books.
“Right’” I managed.
First up was the Cambridge literary festival. It was a five hour drive. Traffic was hell, the defender powered along the motorways on the inside lane. I was cutting it fine – but reasoned I should be ok. There was a car park near the theatre, shouldn’t be a problem. I reached the car park – the sign clearly said maximum height 190cm. Landrover 182cm. 8cm clearance, no problem. I had twenty minutes before my talk was due to start – tickets had been sold. Almost ten of them as it turned out. What the sign failed to tell me was that the 190cm was the maximum height of the ceiling; the new lights and emergency exit signs recently installed in the car park were somewhat lower than this. Lower, in fact by about 9cm. The cars queued behind me as I ground under the first light, the second one was halfway up a ramp – somehow that made it worse. I got wedged. It was awkward. Needless to say, I was a bit late, the Landrover needs a paint job and parts of the multi-storey car park are now darker in the evenings than they technically should be.
Then was the next talk – the compère was very nice. She asked me if I knew her son who had also been at Bristol University in the mid nineties. Small world, weirdly, he was someone I had had an argument with in a toilet. Not a great anecdote to tell his mother.
The next few were better – the laptop was variable, sound was always a bit of an issue, on one venture my projector screen was a beige curtain – not the best visual performance of the set, but just when I felt the talks were coming together, the most surreal experience would occur. One for me was Chepstow. Finish work early, hop in the truck, and drive a couple of hours to Wales. Locate the boxing gym and enter the small hall to the right. Giving a talk about wrestling an ostrich in Mexico, rabid cows in India and losing my wedding ring down a bull’s throat, to the heavy beat of pounded punch bags was a novel experience. Did get a fair few sales though, loads of people joined the charity and no cars were broken into in the car park – so all in all, a good night.
Hay on Wye had to be the high point. The whole vibe was a league up from any talk I have ever given anywhere. Even the steward who was taking care of me was a Cambridge student studying Greek and Persian – there can only be about ten of them in the country. Needless to say, I didn’t spot a single boxer anywhere. My talk immediately preceded the Archbishop of Canterbury in the tent next door so ten minutes before I was due to finish there was a bit of impatient shuffling, but that was ok, it was good queue to wrap it up and I earned an appreciative clap at the end. All in all, that one was a winner and I left with the scent of book firmly impregnated as I headed to join the family for a whirlwind weekend at Centre Parcs. It’s all glamour as an author.
And so now I am about to embark on the publicity tour for book 2. The book is better; the talk has to be sharper. Already the anecdotes are pouring in – I saw a woman with a goat the other day, she brought it to the surgery in the back of her car, the owner was insistent I had to blow on its neck to keep it calm. All it seemed to do was wee everywhere. Now that’s funny isn’t it? It’s needs a bit of work and isn’t exactly the story about the Gambian chimpanzee with an attitude problem or the attack dog I lost at the airport, but I am sure you can tell you are in for a treat…
Any support is hugely appreciated, http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1444721801/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_g14_… is the short weblink – and even if you don’t buy it just yet, liking it on Amazon is a definite next best thing!