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.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Book Expo America - Winning Wednesday

The habit of posing for photographs is now so engrained that I put my hands on my hips at all times, even when waiting for the lights to change so I can cross the road. I have eaten so much sushi and sashimi that I'm put in mind of an apocryphal story I have heard (many times, because it's a story a friend of mine likes to tell when he's been drinking) about Japanese prostitutes who are fed a diet of nothing but salmon sashimi for days on end by fetishist clients who are interested in the waste products these women produce. I could probably make a lot of money if I could only find the time to research whether there's a market for such things here.

Last night I went to another party, this morning I'm meeting some other writers and going for breakfast before heading to a book store. I'm having lunch with a friend of a film producer I'm working with in England in midtown Manhattan and then I'm going downtown for my reading at Guerilla Lit this evening. If only this could go on forever but soon enough I'll be back in England sitting at my computer in my dressing gown, looking at Facebook and worrying about the word count for the novel I'm supposed to be writing.

I had hoped to meet up with lots of book bloggers who I know from Twitter and from reading their blogs but I underestimated how much free time I would have when I was actually in the Javits Center yesterday and how impossible it might be to spot people in the crowd. I managed to say hello to a few book blogging friends but I'm very sorry if I didn't get a chance to say hello to you yesterday.

If you're reading this and you're at BEA, please go to the Amazon Publishing booth at 3129 if you'd like an Advanced Review Copy of my book, ALISON WONDERLAND. If you're not at BEA and you'd like a copy, please scroll down to the post below to sign up to win a copy or click here.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Book Expo America - Touche Éclat Tuesday

Yesterday, if you read my blog, you'll know that I thanked my editor, my book designer and my publicist. Today I would like to thank Touche Éclat by Yves St Laurent and Ooh La Lift by Benefit, both of which I have applied, one on top of the other, in liberal amounts on the dark circles under my eyes.

Also, if you were at last night's party (which was wonderful, by the way - thanks to all concerned) I feel I ought to clarify that when I said, more than once, after a couple of vodkas, 'I'm pissed, I need a fag,' for me, it was two o'clock in the morning (though for you it may have been 9pm) and anyway, that's just how we talk in England.

And another thing - the reason I keep putting my hand on my hip every time someone takes a photo is because my daughter told me I should do it because it's flattering.

Photos: Above, with Alex Carr and Connie Brockway. Right, with Charlie Williams.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Book Expo America - Happy Monday

Today I did a book signing at the Library Journal Day of Dialog in New York and I saw the advance review copies of ALISON WONDERLAND for the first time. They look fantastic and there were several admiring remarks about the cover from the librarians who picked up signed copies. Hello to you if you picked up a signed copy today - thanks for stopping by.

Thanks to the designer, Brian Zimmerman, for the eyecatching cover and interior design, and the team at AmazonEncore for all their hard work on it, as well as Sarah Tomashek for arranging the signing today. Above all, thanks to my editor, Alex Carr, for acquiring the book.

Today has been a very good day. Apart from the book signing, I had a manicure, ate some sushi and wandered through Grand Central Station (again). New York is such a crowded, shouty, colourful, Art Deco city. Despite its reputation, everyone seems almost absurdly friendly. I'm very glad to be back here again.

Tonight I'm going to a party with my editor and some of the other Amazon Publishing editors as well as members of the book marketing team. Alex is based in Seattle so I haven't met him before, we have only talked on the phone. Normally you expect to bond with your editor over several boozy lunches - my previous editor was a very good mimic, which was slightly disconcerting but very entertaining - but I feel the bonding is complete, I just need to see his face to satisfy my curiosity about his appearance. I'm also looking forward to meeting the other Amazon Pubishing authors - apparently there are more than 60 of us in town.

I'm staying in a lovely hotel in midtown Manhattan courtesy of Amazon Publishing. There was even a welcome gift bag on arrival that included all sorts of delightful things, most notably a homemade cookie with the title of my book iced on the front. I won't eat it, of course. I'll take it home and put it next to the tiny iced book cover I was given at Brixton library last week. I have been published before, as you will know from reading this blog (or even from reading the previous paragraph). I don't remember there being any confectionary or baked goods involved last time round. If this is a new development in the world of publishing, I heartily approve.

If you're here for BEA, I hope you're having a great time, too.