It’s been one of those strange writing weeks, where I’ve done hours and hours of research and ended up with only 1,286 words to show for it. But such is the lot of the slightly obsessive historical fiction writer. Here’s my thought process: I wonder if art forgery was common in 1827 – I’ll just read a bit about art forgery in general – and here’s something about art plunder during war – and yes, the French were involved – and after the wars there was a congress in Vienna, talking in part about “cultural items” – the French ambassador was called Talleyrand – he had a limp – I wonder how he got that…. And before you know it, I’m researching the physical impediments of a man who is not even going to appear in “Plank 4”. (It was a foot injury he sustained as a child, apparently.) Self-control, that’s what I need.
It’s an issue I’m going to raise this weekend with my fellow authors (get me!) at the Alderney Literary Festival. They are all historical fiction writers, so I assume they are plagued with the same temptation to follow research leads that will likely be of no use at all, yet feeling justified in doing so because “it’s for the book”. Indeed, and Talleyrand’s limp is interesting, but if a book is ever to be finished we have to draw the line somewhere. I’ll see what they suggest.
On an entirely unrelated matter, I have just read an interesting article about self-published authors approaching agents, and how to do this. As point one, the article says that it’s only worth bothering if your self-published book has good sales figures: “With print books, you’ll need to show at least a few thousand sales. With low-priced e-books, you’ll need to show sales in the tens of thousand. With free e-books, you probably need 50,000 downloads to convince a publisher that there’s a large enough paying market for your work.” Heavens above: with those sales figures, what need would I have of an agent?