Monday, 30 May 2011

So what are people in publishing really like?

I'm back in London and I can't decide if I should be writing the play that I have been commissioned to write, the literary novel that I would like to write or the mystery series that readers might actually buy. If I keep very still and stare out the window, I expect I will hear the answer very soon in the rustling of the leaves on the trees in my garden or the twittering of the birds - I dare not tap on the keyboard in front of me for fear of drowning out a message from the universe.

You know that I was in New York last week, don't you? Is there anyone who doesn't know? The trip went very well but by the end of it I was wearing so much Touche Éclat under my eyes I looked like Adam Ant. And I overused the hand on hip pose that did me so many favours when I first turned up there. Like any magical gift, inevitably if its properties are abused it will turn on the recipient - meaning that by the end of the week I was placing both hands on my hips for all photographs and I looked like a middle-aged woman in a strop rather than the dashing English authoress I was hoping to portray.

But you don't want to know about that. You want to know what the Amazon people are like. Well, if you're in publishing - and I know there are a few publishing people who read this - then they're just like you. Some seem to have been recruited from other publishing houses, some have been promoted from inside Amazon and a few others have come from exciting, off-the-wall, lets-mix-it-up, not-book-related organisations. The thing that struck me most about this charming group of people was how clever they all are. If Lisa Simpson grew up and still played the saxaphone, and had maybe learned a couple of languages and done an MBA, and still said wise, sad, thought-provoking things, she'd fit right in, especially if she now drank White Russian cocktails.

In fact they're all so clever and talented, I did wonder, in my darker moments, what they actually need the authors for - though perhaps this is indicative of how little I understand about what authoring entails. You're supposed to spend your time writing, right? Currently I'm spending too much time being an author to write anything. I do think it would be considerate of Amazon if they could one day offer a ghostwriting service, with the clever people there writing my books so I can spend more time on Twitter. I ought to find out if they have an option for that on their customer services contact form.

If you're a regular reader I know you're tolerant of blog posts that veer wildly in tone partway through. So, since we're talking about lovely people in publishing, I'd like to draw your attention to Jamie Byng's intelligent, moving tribute in The Observer yesterday to his friend Gil Scott-Heron.

6 comments:

Andrew Biss said...

I saw Gil Scott-Heron perform at a huge CND rally in Hyde Park back in the 80s. I always remembered his parting words before he left the stage: "See you the other side of the rainbow."

khashway said...

I wish I'd gotten to go to BEA. I know what you mean about how being an author takes so much time away from actual writing. I try to devote a set amount of time a day to just writing. No promotion, no market research. Just writing. That's what I love, and while I know I have to do all the other stuff that comes with having a book published--and I do make time for that too--I need to spend time writing.

brenda said...

I am with Kelly - before finishing the book, that is all I did was write, now I am doing all the other stuff. Tis writing but it's different. Anyway, loved reading about your trip. I'm glad to hear that you had a successful trip, and as you say, back to the hard job, doing what you love and what got you there in the first place.

MuMuGB said...

Glad the trip went well! Welcome back then...hope you find the time to write !

razlich said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Girl Parker said...

Keep listening, but with the workload you just described, you better listen while your fingers are flying! Multitasking 3.0! But that's good, right? Glad you had a great time. If Amazon has a suggestion box, I suggest you stuff it with your idea. I guarantee they have time to at least ghost-twitter for you!