Thursday, 1 October 2009

Going Public

It's that time for me again. As every author will know, the run up to a title's publication isn't all about whipping the words into shape and making sure the book has a brilliant cover. So much more goes on behind the scenes, not least in the publicity department.

I've had the pleasure of dealing with some lovely publicists during my time with Headline (I'm trying not to worry that I'm now on my third!) and have recently been swapping ideas and brainstorming pitches with my new champion, whose job it is to get me out there, in front of my readers and potential readers for free. Easy then.

I've recently given a 'big' and very exciting interview, which is soon to be followed up by a photo shoot in London. Already I'm worrying what to wear, will they be able to airbrush out the wrinkles, how will I come across in the feature...although I know I needn't worry as the journalist concerned writes fantastic pieces. It's an unusual angle, not least because I once had a very unusual job.

I have some more pitches to write for potential articles - from women's magazines to specialist publications, some short stories to get written, a new website in the making, and a very exciting double-act talk with a huge name in crime fiction to look foward to next year. And I'm sure there'll be lots more besides. There's an art to going public, getting an author 'out there' and the Headline team are tireless at their job.

For an author, though, there burns the question througout the process: How far should I go? I don't mean this in a selling-yourself-to the devil way, rather how much of an exsposition should publicity become, how deep should the author drill to achieve a successful publicity campaign, and at what price?

If it means the difference between being a bestseller and a talked-about name suddenly thrown into the controversial limelight that is more usual for brattish musicians and actors, should authors cast caution to the wind and expose their soul even at the risk of alienating friends or family? Odd, that to achieve potentially thousands of new 'friends', i.e. readers, the real thing might be shocked into oblivion when they discover their female writer chum was once a man, following a flourishing career as a pole dancer in Budapest. (No, I'm not trying to tell you anything.)

I think the best route is honesty. And, if you can manage it, an interesting but not damning life. As I get older (and wiser, ha!) I feel much more able to use my past to light the way for my future. And in doing that, I think I grow as a writer. As humans, it's inevitable that so many things happen to us - even if we think they don't - and how, if we are meant to learn from them then we will do just that. I am thankful that I have many 'real life' stories to tell.

So bring it on. Let's go public. Tell-Tale is out on November 12th and I want everyone to know about it.

Sam xx