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 says ‘Nailing 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.