Tuesday, 13 May 2008

"YOUR WRITING REMINDS ME OF WILL SELF'S"....The reality of having a book out...

This, chaps, is the reality of having a book out there.

Oh Mimi, and teams of Zoetropers, you are going to love this!

So Borders set up a reading slot, get books in, publicise it all over the shop. They advertise on their website, and on 'What's On In Brighton' websites.

They are seriously supportive of local writers. (In stark contrast to both the local 'award winning' independent bookshops I visited, who told me very bluntly, to go away. Not interested in 'award winning' local writers. ... Unlike Ullapool Bookshop! My brain can't work this out.)

I drive to Brighton for the reading at Borders ....

And not ONE person turns up.

This from the manager of Borders. As much as I can remember. We nattered for an hour. He's writing a novel, and is extraordinary. Whatever he writes will be strong, intelligent, pushing boundaries.

"What's going on? I just read a story in here...Your writing is edgy, as much as Will Self's. What's going on? The cover might be wrong, have you thought of that? It looks 'girly'. When actually the writing is strong, raw, really cutting edge..."


So what are the thoughts going round in my head?

1) I've worked for four years for this.

2) I won prizes in top competitions. Thinking they meant something. They don't. Except to the tiny world of the literary writing community. Bridport and Fish Anthologies aren't even sold in the good bookshops....

3) I found a brilliant, well respected publisher.

4)) What more could I have done?

Answers please, in comments. I fully expect the following:

a)Be younger.

b)Be more beautiful.

c)Have an interesting and public sex life.

d)And don't worry about the writing.

Well. This is reality. Not how I'd make it up, but never mind. I'll just carry on working, writing. I dont have anything else I want to do.


Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau said...

It's 12:30am my time but I can't sleep without posting a comment.

Read this, V:

It's definitely not about you, and you already know it's not about your writing. Some people just don't see what's in front of them.

You're an awesome writer, and that's something that's hard to keep under wraps for long. Cheers and hugs!

Ossian said...

I was there in spirit.

People are so blase about everything now. Somebody at our writing group told me the other day that he went to the very nice cinema in the library centre here - and they wouldn't show the film because he was the only customer. They have a rule that they won't show the film unless there are at least two.

If Jesus Christ came down on a cloud to read from the Bible in their local bookshop, some people wouldn't tear themselves away from Facebook for half an hour to go and listen.

Tania Hershman said...

Oy, sorry to hear that, but I most definitely echo what Michelle and Ossian say, it's NOT about you, it's about apathy and disinterest, people who can't be bothered to leave their house. I would have been there! Does sound like you had a very interesting chat that evening anyway, so that's something.

SueG said...

I fully expect I will be writing the same thing next week -- going (maybe even flying!) to bookshops only to find no one there. It's so frustrating. Been a crazy, soul-searching week for me too where, at one point I decided I would always keep writing but I might take myself out of the publishing game. And it is a game, to a certain extent, isn't it? But in my heart I know I won't, and I know you won't, and I'm sure neither of us should. As long as we keep having each other's support, it will all work out right in one way or another. It has to. Getting back to actually writing is probably the best thing, for both of us. Hang in there, pal!

Women Rule Writer said...

Dearest Vanessa
I cuddled up with your book once again last night (finally free of a novel I'm reviewing) and once again was struck by the power, honesty and beauty of your writing.
Listen, honey, the SAD reality is: people only turn up for famous writers, unless they are your very own troop of supporters/friends/family and even they stop caring by the 2nd book.
It's tough. I did a reading in a bookshop in September. There was the owner, me, my fella, his sis and her 2 kids, and my friend. A gang of American tourists peered in the window and we hauled them in.
Disheartening? Yes. Widely advertised? Yes. Are people lazy TV addicted dopes? Yes.
Chin up, girleen. It says nothing about your work, everything about our watery, vapid 'culture'.
N x x x x

Nik's Blog said...

Oh Vanessa, how rotten. I do think that it must be one of those things that happens, at least once, to most, if not all, authors though. I really do.

When I was touring with I Met a Roman I had a complete no show at my local library; the council insited people had to collect their new bins from them and there was a big toy fair at exactly the same time as my appearance.

Your next gig will be better.

And I think that reading this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mortification-Writers-Stories-Their-Public/dp/0007171382/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1210757522&sr=8-2

will probably make you feel better as well.

N xx

Jim Murdoch said...

Someone should run classes in how to be disappointed for writers. It's easy to say, "They're not rejecting me," because they're not. We know they're not. But it feels like it. There is simply too much going on, too many bright and sparkly things demanding their attention. Even the ones who meant to come – "Oh, it was THIS weekend?"

I sometimes despair at the amount of things that slip through my finger because of time constraints, health considerations or plain lack of funds. Most of the time I have to work on the laptop in front of the TV just to make sure I catch the programmes I do want to watch.

The competition we face is stiff and there are so many factors to be considered. But you're right, it's all to do with packaging, how your book is packaged and how you are sold. Or do you sell out? The protagonist in the novel I'm promoting just now has a predilection for well-endowed women and I did toy – for about 30 seconds – with the idea of having a pair of whopping great mammaries on the cover but I'm not sure I want the kind of reader who would pick up a book like that. So I opted for an inkblot that looks like the Batman logo and maybe I'll pick up a few readers who think the book is a movie tie-in of some sort; they might actually appreciate the damn thing.

Kerry said...

This is so wrong. However, I see you are doing a reading at the bookshop down my road in a month or so (Stoke Newington) so you can be sure of me, my partner and bessie mate being a receptive audience! Really looking forward to it :)

Vanessa G said...

Thanks, you lovely, kind, generous people.

I was whisked away from computers for the last few days, and it is so so good to come back and read all your messages.

I feel a lot more positive, and have put my money where my mouth is... been writing....


Tim Jones said...

I've only ever been the guest reader at "pre-existing" events e.g. monthly poetry readings - so there's a guaranteed audience, even if small. New Zealand and the UK are very different in scale, but here, the only people I'd expect to turn up to a Tim Jones reading in a bookstore would be family, and friends who couldn't think up a plausible excuse to escape!

In other words, I don't think you did anything wrong: but it's hard to get people who don't know a writer to go out of their way to hear that writer read.

Maybe events which pair a visiting writer with a well-known local writer are the way to go? That way, the visiting writer gets the benefit of the local writer's ready-made audience.

bevjackson said...

I was traveling when all this happened, but trust me, you are going to be a hugely famous and successful writer if you don't let the industry get you down. Just keep doing your thing, V. Your talents are huge, and it's only a matter of time before that critical mass is cracked open and you step through the door. It is this way for every good artist, so I know it's odious, but just hang in there, and just do your work. If it helps, read biographies of some of the greats....who went through this and more before the crack!

Vanessa G said...

It begs the question, what is 'famous'? and 'successful'... though.

Some people would measure that in terms of squillions in the bank... and others, the sense that they were doing aomething good and necessary.

Thats how I feel, I suppose. necessary to who? Ha! Thats another question.

it was salutory, sitting in Borders' coffee shop, (packed) as announcements went out over the tannoy that I was in the shop, and this event started in ten minutes, then again, five minutes to go.

and apart from a 'shut up, we're trying to talk' from two giggling ladies next to me, there was no reaction at all.

neither was there any reaction from the fifty or so people browsing in the shop, who are presumably,. readers, interested in reading, or...something.

as I said, a reality check. That what I have to share is minuscule, and not of interest, even free!