Article published on September 28, 2015.
Marianne Kavanagh lays claim to our newest ‘strand’ on nudge – I’M A WRITER . . .
And because she’s the first she’s also grabbed the best tag to make the most of it! We look forward to hearing from other published authors who want to climb onto our soap box and share their world with our readers.
Dickens didn’t bother with Facebook. Daphne du Maurier never sent a single tweet. No one expected George Eliot to be active on Instagram and James Joyce didn’t even have a website. But these days writers have to be good at social media. It’s not enough to write a book, or even to get it published. You have to get noticed. You have to be good at publicity.
Unless, of course, you’re already a celebrity. This autumn sees the publication of a number of novels and children’s books written by British stars. They include Terry Wogan’s collection of short stories Those Were the Days (Pan Macmillan), David Walliams’ children’s book Grandpa’s Great Escape (Harper Collins) and Dawn French’s third novel According to Yes (Penguin).
Publishers love big names. You can see why. Big names attract publicity. If Madonna, Geri Halliwell or Julianne Moore bring out a children’s book, journalists can’t write copy fast enough. But publishers also know that talented comedians, actors and presenters are good with words. They delight audiences, so they’ll entertain readers. Dawn French’s first novel A Tiny Bit Marvellous was hugely popular, selling over 700,000 copies. David Walliams, who regularly tops the bestseller charts, is said to be the new Roald Dahl.
All of which leaves us non-celebrities feeling incredibly gloomy. Our lives to date have been rubbish. We didn’t have the talent to think up Little Britain. We haven’t got a BAFTA for being the vicar of Dibley, and it’s way too late to switch career and become a world-famous rock star. All we have is our writing.
And because we much prefer hiding indoors to making any kind of public appearance, the tiniest lifeline of publicity is a huge ordeal. Even a ten-minute phone interview for the local paper is terrifying. That’s why, in all photographs, we have frozen rictus grins like Donkey in Shrek.
For all I know, celebrities feel the same. They make it look so straightforward, as they chat away on This Morning or The Graham Norton Show. I never hear the slightest quiver in the voice of a celebrity being interviewed on Woman’s Hour. But what do I know? Maybe underneath it all they’re terrified, hearts pounding, adrenalin racing. Maybe it’s never easy to publicise your own writing, however famous you are.
‘You’ve got to get a thicker skin,’ said my husband this morning, as I started worrying about doing a reading next week in my lovely local bookshop.
He’s right. But right at this moment that seems as likely as winning a part in a Hollywood megabuster.
AWC: After the crash by Michel Bussi