I’m a great fan of ebooks. The arrival of my first Kindle back in umpty-dum meant my former heart-breaking policy of one-in, one-out no longer applied to books. And no more sucking of teeth and silly questions from Him Indoors whenever we moved house. Like “Do you really want to keep all these books?’ So win-win all round.
But as a debut published novelist, I have to admit there’s nothing like holding the print version in your hands. Getting to cradle the weight of a real book, luxuriate in the smell of unread pages, stroke the full-colour, all-glory cover, croon over the blurb and endorsements…enough of the book-porn. You get the picture.
So it was heaven to order a boxful of my brand-new novel The Governor’s Man, in glorious print. That might sound greedy. Clearly my dog Peggy thinks so. There is, however, a very good reason why I’m pictured sitting in a sea of paperbacks, apart from the hedonist pleasure of drowning in one’s own story.
To begin with, there are Very Important People to be thanked: Beta Readers. Other writers reading this blog will know who I mean. These are the amazingly loyal and patient friends and fellow-authors who— in a moment of madness to be regretted at leisure—offer to read and give feedback on an early draft of one’s book. These people are pearls among friends, particularly if they come up with more than “I really liked it!”
So some of these copies will be given as thankyous. Some will be retained to re-appear as Christmas presents for family members who mistakenly didn’t offer beta services. That’ll larn’em.
But the bulk are, I very much hope, to be displayed and sold at bookerly events this summer. Yes, I know—this really is a triumph of optimism over experience in our second year of pandemia. It’s highly unlikely my visions of a sunny day, an eager crowd and satisfyingly empty boxes to take home from the art world’s most exclusive festival will come about. But I’ve booked my pitch, my bookmarks are made, my gazebo manager has made himself available, and my flask of iced Pimm’s stands ready.
Colwall Village Arts Festival, Herefordshire, here I come. The only author among a crowd of Malvern Hills painters and craftspeople. Can’t wait.