Monday, June 13, 2005

Fame and fortune await you

I don't read the UK book-trade magazine the Bookseller any more. I used to; I read it faithfully, every week, for about 33 years. But then I decided that 99% of it was stuff that I'd read before. Usually many times.

However, someone at the Literary Saloon does read the Bookseller, it seems, and has quoted from a letter to the journal from a UK literary agent. The nature of the dispute which the agent is contributing to need not detain us. The point is that he describes the fate of the recent second novel of a client of his.

This author's first novel had been respectably reviewed, and his second novel got reviews in the Observer, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Times Literary Supplement, and the Guardian. In other words, just about everywhere that counts -- at least in terms of literary reputation.

And the bit that caught my eye is this. Prior to publication, booksellers had ordered a grand total of 200 copies of this second novel.

So that's what you can hope for. You write a first novel which is respectably reviewed, and this creates such a windstorm of interest among booksellers that they order 200 copies of the next one. What is more, it seems that, even with a set of good reviews for said second novel, booksellers are disinclined to order any more. Yes, they will order a copy specially if someone wanders in and asks for it. But buy a pile on the strength of a few reviews? No.

However, now that we have disposed of today's bad news, I also have some good news.

Are you having trouble with your novel? Are you stuck on chapter three? Can you not decide what to call the hero's mother-in-law? If so, help is at hand.

I am a user of several software programmes produced by Serif, and because I have bought from them in the past they regularly write to me with new offers. Today's offer is for a programme called Write Your Own Novel. Yes folks, now your computer will do most of the work for you.

Here's a handy summary of just some of the things that this wonderful new piece of software can do for you:

Organise and store your complete novel - this great feature will let you get on with the important business of writing your novel whilst it does the work of putting it into the correct order. Simple, yet incredibly effective!

Plan and research your story - Stuck for ideas? Write Your Own Novel will help you get your ideas down onto paper with its powerful research function.

Generate characters, names, and ideas - Struggling to come up with names for your key characters? Then Write Your Own Novel can do it all for you! Some days we all get writer’s block, so let this great CD-ROM do the hard work for you.

Develop characters, events and locations - Maybe you’re having trouble coming up for [with?] the perfect setting for your novel. Well, that’s not a problem with this great feature. Write Your Own Novel will enhance your story with the single click of a mouse.

Submissions tracker helps you track who you’ve sent your story to [all 4,563 of them] and can help you keep track of who hasn’t got back to you, and, more importantly, who has!

Oh, and there's a spell-checker too. 100,000 words, no less.

Wow. Serif offered this to me for £9.95 plus shipping. But that's because I'm a proven sucker and get a bargain price. You can get your own copy from Amazon. And there are two versions: the standard and the professional. Only the latter will do, obviously.

Jo, from Devon, says on Amazon that this is a great piece of software. 'Writing a book is something i;ve always wanted to do but just never quite got round to it as i didn't really know whare to start,' she says. Start with the spell-checker, darling.

3 comments:

Gav's Studio said...

I’m beginning to doubt the usefulness of reviews in newspapers, the short ones at least. They don’t do star ratings, they don’t actually say if something is any good, and they seem to concentrate on the books that people should read rather than what people want to read.

Take poetry. The reviews of poetry of diminishing fast. Though I don’t know if most of the general public care, but when they do publish a review it’s usually of an established poet that has a ‘best of’ out rather than a new poet or someone of merit.

Last year there was a magazine published called Ink, which lasted 6 issues. One issue boasted the fact that it had 192 reviews in it. Who has the time to read 7 or 8 books a month even if they do catch there fancy? And who is going to spend the £50? People that love books yes, the general public again I’m not sure.

It’s not that people don’t read, take the Da Vinci Code, it’s selling and keeps selling, because some has read it and said it’s brilliant and worth reading. A review in a newspaper doesn’t seem to do that. They just some waffle that leaves you non the wiser.

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