Thursday, January 17, 2008

Has my work born fruit?

It seems that all my running around over the weekend in order to drum up book orders may have paid dividends, since there has been no word from Gardners all week as to when I can expect delivery of my books. When I got home from work on Friday night they had 159 copies in stock, and as of tonight the number has dropped to 135. This means that should they still insist on shipping back the 120 copies as planned, it will leave them with just 15 copies in stock. This is the number at which they would normally be re-ordering, so I would not be a bit surprised to find that the shipment had been delayed while they figure out whether or not this is really such a good idea! I can but wait and see.

It has though all things considered, been one very strange week. It has very quiet at work following the Christmas rush, not that I am complaining too much. While it is nice to have the time to catch one's breath, the only bonus we are likely to earn this week is for the store that was the quietest. It is the same though across the board, with even superstores being quiet. In terms of money through the tills, some of them are doing far worse that we are. Our staffing problems do not help, although we have yet another new full timer starting on Monday. He has no retail experience, but that need not be a bad thing, as he will come into the job without preconceptions. Let's hope it will be a case then of third time lucky, and he lasts more than three days. He is a little older, so should in theory at least be more reliable.

Looking at The Bookseller website today though, it seems that the HMV group, who of course own Waterstones, are one of the few retailers to have had a good Christmas at all. It must be due to all those copies of my book that have been flying off the shelves! Like for like sales in the five weeks prior to January 5th were apparently up by 4 percent with an actual growth rate of 0.5 percent. Not bad at all considering.

The same news page details a story about a new Apprentice style TV show for crime writers, whereby six celebrities are mentored by crime writer Minette Walters. The series, which will be broadcast as a series of five 45 minute episodes will pit six celebrities, named as Brendan Cole, Sherrie Hewson, Angela Griffin, Kelvin MacKenzie, Matt Allwright and Diarmuid Gavin against each other.

Walters will set them a series of challenges designed to inspire daily writing tasks. These will include dog tracking, resisting a violent attack, an autopsy (rather them than me), crime scene investigation, interrogation techniques and rapid pursuit of a suspect. Walters will then judge the celebrities' writing efforts and eliminate one candidate per day.

The winner will predictably turn their plot and central characters into a novel, to be published with Pan as a Quick Read on WBD 2009, in conjunction with the BBC's adult literacy campaign RaW. This together with the fact that the proceeds will go to Children in Need, is about the only saving grace that this idea has.

While I would support any endeavour that helps raise funds for charity, especially for children and the literacy campaign, why did they have to choose celebrities as the contestants? There are thousands of talented writers out there who are begging for a chance like this and will never get that lucky break, because unlike these so-called celebrities, they are just not well known enough and their writing is deemed to be insufficiently commercial. High sales is not though necessarily indicative of great literary merit. This can be attested to when you look at the film and art work in general, as well as publishing. The best films are very often those made by the low budget production companies, yet because these do not take the big money and have low marketing budgets, like print on demand and other self published books, they disappear without a trace.

It seems to me then that the only crime that is being committed here is the fact that they have chosen celebrities for this role. Mind you, having said this, I cannot realistically imagine that a struggling would be writer would be happy to hand over the entire proceeds of their book to charity, no matter how worthy the cause, not unless it was the struggling writers benevolent fund anyway ....

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