Friday, July 01, 2005

The double life of an author

Word count: Book 4: 0

Here's the thing. As an author, you need to be able to work for months in complete isolation, slaving over the laptop, with only your imaginary friends (and possibly a cat) for company.

Yet... in today's literary world, you also need to be perfectly happy standing up in front of an audience of dozens, hundreds or - in the case of TV or radio - maybe thousands of people.

I'm about to do that switch - having been in the scribbling mode for months, this weekend I am at the Bookcrossing Unconvention in Birmingham. I'm going to do a talk about reading/writing/books etc... apart from worrying that they'd rather be watching Live 8 (and I will confess I am not much competition for Madonna), I am looking forward to it. Though I am naturally quite shy, I do enjoy public speaking - when I am properly prepared... But as I don't exactly know what they're expecting, I am nervous too. So wish me luck! And once that's finished, I need to work on my talk on creativity for the following weekend. So my newsletter is going to be rather late, I suspect!

Apart from that, it's been a busy week. Put in an offer on a house I really liked, but it's been turned down. I understand why, but I also don't think the house IS worth the full asking price, so I can't take the risk of going any higher at the moment. And everything's so uncertain in my life for the next few months, that I need to be quite cautious. But it's a shame as I felt good about the house when I walked in. There will always be other houses, though...

Today I went into central London for a chat with my editor, who is soon going off on maternity leave. She looks amazing - less of a tummy than me, even though her baby's due in August - and I'm sure she'll handle it all wonderfully. But it is a slightly anxious time for any author when this happens - and because publishing is a female-dominated industry, it's a very frequent occurrence. I know some writers whose books have run into big trouble when their main ally at a publishing house is away so it can be an issue. The timing is pretty good, though - hopefully not too much work to be done on Brown Owl, and then it'll be a while before I have something to show on Book 4. But it will be strange not to have my biggest 'champion' there. Apart from anything else, she's a wonderful source of gossip...

Lovely Link of the Day:

I meant to link to this the other day but if you want to know the true financial ins-and-outs of publishing a novel, you can't do better than this piece by the Grumpy Old Bookman which explains in forensic detail the sums involved. A really brilliant piece of journalism, apart from anything else. And having been first published under very similar terms to the fictional Miss Smith, I found it a real education.

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