Monday 24 January 2011

The Future of Reading

I’m not convinced that initiatives to give away free books encourages a perception that books have value. I understand the rationale behind these initiatives which seek to engage new readers and promote particular authors. But I suspect the consequence of giving books away for free is that books will just become further devalued. Many readers say they never pay full price for a book – even though the average book will set you back the price of a couple of cups of coffee, or a couple of pints in the pub, and without revenue from readers, publishers and authors will largely disappear.
Bricks and mortar bookshops face huge competition from online suppliers, charity shops, supermarkets and free book campaigns – and that’s before considering the impact of ebooks. I’m passionate about the survival of bookshops and spend a lot of time in different branches of the major chains, and in libraries, talking to readers. I wish more authors would support bookshops and libraries in this way.

(Just in case the situation here continues to deteriorate, I’m building my intergalactic fanbase - you can see a few of them in the picture).

There is a more serious concern which is not how books will be delivered in future, but whether people will continue reading on a significant scale, with all the other forms of entertainment on offer. Today’s youngsters spend their time in front of television, computer or mobile phone screens and bookshops have their work cut out to attract them.

But it’s a campaign worth fighting and one they must win if they are to survive.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Writers and Readers

I received my PLR statement today. Around 3,000 people borrowed my books from libraries in the UK in the year to June 2010.
Who says libraries aren't popular nowadays?
As an author, it's hardly surprising that I spend a lot of time writing, but these days authors also spend a lot of time talking. As a relatively unknown 'name', my events vary and sometimes I chat to half a dozen readers in a library reading group, always an enjoyable experience. But here are a couple of photos, both taken at a recent talk I gave where more than 200 people turned out to hear me talk about my books. You can just about see me, a tiny dot on the stage.

Maybe one day I'll even see a queue of more than two people waiting in front of my table at a book signing...
Did I say people?

Monday 10 January 2011

Who moved the goalposts?

We have a strange glitch in our television which causes it to default to Sky sport whenever I leave the room. Curiously it never happens when my husband is out - almost as though the television knows! Thanks to this mysterious glitch, I do sometimes watch cricket and football (while busy on facebook, blogs, email, etc and yes, sometimes even writing…)
So I thought, for a change, I’d share a few of my musings on cricket and football.
Cricket seems to me very similar to life, in being almost completely incomprehensible. Occasionally I have a glimmer of comprehension, but then it’s gone in the toss of a cricket ball and the swing of a bat and I’m baffled again. Yes, I can understand why people compare cricket to life. Just when you think you understand something, you realise you don't.
Football is altogether simpler to understand. There’s a goal post at each end of the pitch and – well, you know the rest and if not, well, don't ask me. The goals are a standard size and are always in the right place. In short, football couldn’t be less like life because in life the goal posts move all the time.
Less than two years ago, I thought I’d be happy just to see a book of mine published. Cut Short hit the shelves. I thought I'd be happy if a few copies were bought. Cut Short promptly sold out – and sold out again - and again. I thought I'd be happy if the book had a few good reviews on amazon. Cut Short was well reviewed, and not only on amazon but in the papers. It was shortlisted for a major award.
After all the accolades, I thought I'd be happy if Road Closed did half as well. Good reviews started to roll in and Road Closed quickly sold out.
Over that hurdle, with sales and reviews better than ever, and I’m wondering about how Dead End will be received...
Will I be happy if just a few copies are bought?

Monday 3 January 2011

What a year I've had!

It's January 2011 and time to review 2010. And what a year it's been!
Looking back, I can't believe how much has happened. No wonder I'm feeling tired!
Cut Short sold out for the fourth time (or was it the fifth?) and was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, which was a real thrill. I went to Harrogate to hear the announcement and met two charmers, Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham.
Cut Short is being reprinted again, this time in B format, with a new cover which was decided on in 2010, to match the cover chosen for Dead End. When Road Closed is reprinted again, it will have a matching cover, so 2010 was the year my books were "branded" (!)
I was lucky enough to have lots of online interviews and the reviews for both books continued to be amazingly positive!
I finished Dead End in 2010 and the MS for my next book, now with my agent.
2010 saw two bestsellers, two more books written, two new covers and an award nomination. In addition, I was very happy to receive lots of invitations to appear at literary festivals, talk to writers groups and judge competitions, visit bookshops and libraries, and talk to colleges and book clubs.
2011 will doubtless be as busy but I don't see how it can be as exciting!

Saturday 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

More to come... watch this space...
Resolution: post regularly on my blog...