I’m not exactly the stereotypical reclusive author – after all, my day job (anti-money laundering consultant) often involves standing up in front of audiences of hundreds to spread the AML message). And I LOVE talking to people. But I am English, and in our DNA – along with the love of crumpets and an ability to make a decent conversation out of any type of weather at all – is a certain modesty, and in particular a horror of blowing one’s own trumpet. So when an Englishwoman (oh, let’s say me) decides to write a series of books (let’s take “Fatal Forgery” and “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat” as random examples) and then publish them without the back-up of a traditional publishing house and their marketing department, we get a basic, almost visceral, conflict.
I am very proud of both “FF” and “Canary”. And I know from their reviews that they are good books that people enjoy reading. They look amazing, thanks to the sterling work of the cover designer. So what’s not to sell? And yet I find it remarkably difficult to shoehorn into conversations, “Oh, and did you know that I have written two novels? Here they are *delves into capacious handbag* – please do buy them.” I just can’t do it. So this coming few days is a real test for me.
Tomorrow I am going to London for the day (great excitement – I shall doubtless have M&S iced buns on the train), mainly to attend an evening Christmas drinks party at Hammicks in Fleet Street. (This is the delightful legal bookshop that is not only stocking my books, but also featuring “Canary” in its Christmas promotion and window.) The place will be stuffed with potential buyers – legally-minded book-lovers – and I will have to overcome my reserve so that I can point out my books, and the short distance between them and the till. I have decided to wear a bright pink dress so that I will be visible among the legal black, so there’s no hiding.
And on Saturday I am spending the day on the “Books, Beautiful Books!” stall at the Mill Road Winter Fair here in Cambridge. I’ve told you about it before, and plans proceed apace. We’ll be just over the road from the police station, so perhaps a book involving the early history of policing will hit the spot. Ever the optimist, I have stocked up on £1 coins and £5 notes so that I can give change, and am offering a cover price discount to draw in the crowds. Perhaps I should take inspiration from the market-sellers who do this for a living – “I’m not asking for £10, I’m not even asking for £8…!”