The Hard Sell

ARC – Advanced Readers Copies of my debut novel ‘Nailing Jess’ arrived about two weeks ago. Most of time since, has been divided between staring at them, a stupid post sex grin on my face, and stroking the cover, running my fingernails across the title and my name. The other thing I’ve been doing is handpicking influential people I want to read one and approaching them personally, asking them to do so.

So far, so textbook. I’m lucky, I’m on the ground in one of the cultural capitals of the world -Edinburgh. My home for many years, the birth place of my son and the first city that ever showed me kindness. The six degrees of separation rule halves in a city like this and you are never more than an overprised latte away from somebody who knows somebody whose floor Russell Brand crashed on in the early nineties.

I’m also lucky in that I’m an extrovert. I love having conversations with people, especially strangers. When somebody interrupts my reading on a train, to drunkenly tell me why their ex is such a prick, my eyes light up.

With this in mind, I have managed to orchestrate a few meetings with individuals I really want to have a copy of my book, and persuade them to take one.  Persuade is perhaps the wrong verb. In actuality, once you stand square in front of someone, a copy of your debut novel thrust into their space, they have to be harder than Ray Winstone to hand it back to you. The real challenge is getting them to read it.

So far, still text book. Last week, I had the pleasure of handing a lovely lady – hello lovely lady! – who works at the Edinburgh International Book Festival a copy of my book. At a guess, this woman gets handed a half dozen free debuts every week.  The front cover of my debut saysNailing Jess‘ – “The most shocking book you’ll read this year”

‘You must be happy your publishers wrote that,’ the lovely lady observed. Now, you might think I seized this opportunity to give it the hard sell by saying something like ‘Actually, I’m a bit concerned they’re understating it. I wanted them to go with ‘Nailing Jess’ – ”The most shocking book you will ever read” or ‘Nailing Jess’ – “A book so shocking you may never read again”

You might think I would use such a sentence as a chance to dazzle her with my profound intellect and innate authors ability to articulate. Don’t forgot she’s a literary type. I could have replied ‘What they are referring to is the subversive nature of the book’s core premise.  Namely, that the innate maleness – in origins, in concept, in design and delivery of the patriarchal structure mean that any apparent gains of any ideology opposed to it, are in fact an illusion.’ The trouble with this strategy is with every big word you use, you increase the chances of losing your train of thought and inadvertently sounding silly.

To avoid this, you might have think I could have led with with a more conversational approach. Referring to the fact that my book is set in a matriarchy I could have said. ‘It’s only shocking, coz it’s happening to blokes. Everything that happens in my book – well not quite everything – happens in the real world, every day, somewhere to some woman. And we are not shocked by that at all.’

Alas, retrospect and it’s all knowing analysis, have in no place in actual real time. ‘Nailing Jess’ – ‘The most shocking book you’ll read this year’  ‘You must be happy your publishers wrote that,’ says she. I find myself blushing, and mumbling ‘Well, they have to say something don’t they?’

So lovely lady, if you’re reading this, they didn’t have to say that, they choose to market my book with this line because they believe it.

Nailing Jess – Reading is Believing

Nailing Jess published by Cranachan out June 26th 2017.

Using Tinder to Promote ‘Mary’s the Name’

Ross Sayers

(Please note: all screenshots were taken with the other person’s permission)

These days, everyone’s after new ways of advertising and promoting. More importantly, everyone’s after free ways of advertising and promoting. My publisher, Cranachan, asked me to think of as many creative ways to publicise Mary’s the Name as I could. Having used Tinder (not very successfully) before, I knew what a large amount of people could be reached with just a few swipes. So I figured, why not re-download (as everyone eventually does) but this time, I’ll make Tinder work for me!

The rules I set myself were:

  1. Always stay on message (e.g. Ah, you’re a horse doctor? You know, that reminds me of MY BOOK.)
  2. Swipe right on everyone, even girls I know in real life. This was the only fair way, I thought. Fair to say, some swipes were nerve wracking stuff..
  3. Don’t message…

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Domestic abuse and the persistence of excuses.

So twitter’s on fire with the news that Amber Heard, soon to be ex wife of Johnny Depp has been granted a restraining order, because she alleges he hit her on the face with an i phone and she’s got the bruises to prove it. ‘Course the bruises aren’t enough for the naysayers who reckon they’re self inflicted, ‘coz that’s what women do when they leave their partners, walk into the nearest door and cry domestic violence. It’s not that some men routinely beat their spouses, and this tendency towards violence escalates when she leaves or threatens to.

Heard’s got an uphill struggle if she hopes to prove that she’s the victim here, for many reasons. The first being that it’s always a struggle to prove you’re the victim of domestic violence. If you want to be taken seriously as a victim, you need to get yourself mugged, or your house robbed, or your car stolen, or if you’re going down the assault root you need to hope it’s a stranger, in daylight, in a public park, where all the present witnesses are willing to acknowledge you didn’t do anything to provoke it.

In Heard’s case there’s the further problem of making these allegations and an application for spousal support simultaneously, and that’s a big no-no. Victims of domestic abuse should never care about anything as crass as money. Also  Heard has committed an even bigger sin by filing for divorce three days after Depp’s Mother’s death, which according to twitter is morally repugnant. But then I’m guessing twitter’s never lived with an unstable man, because if they had they’d know intense emotional occurrences rarely bring out the best in them.

As Heard is taunted and vilified over the coming weeks, by strangers on twitter and by some of Hollywood’s most elite, because like night follows day she will be, she should know that there is nothing she could have done to prevent this from happening, other than to not speak out at all.