One of my favourite books, ‘Death and The Penguin’ I bought because I liked the cover. A black and white penguin stands in a bathtub. Good covers from this year include ‘The Raw Shark Texts’ and ‘The End of Mr Y’. The latter has black page edges too!
I like everything about books, even the way they look.
So I am more than a little happy that illustrator Shout has been commissioned to design the cover for my book ‘Me and Mickie James'. This from PrintMag:
Shout’s illustrations are deceptively simple; the work is a window to a realm of absurdities, comic what-ifs, and poignant ironies. “It has a surreal, fantastical quality,” says Wired art director Jeremy LaCroix. “It takes you into a whole different world.”
That sounds about right for ‘Me and Mickie James’ and having a good cover might make people want to pick it up. Because you do worry that no one is going to buy it.
I read this week that while Katie Price’s (Jordan’s) book has sold 160,000 copies the Booker shortlisted novels (taking out Ian McEwan’s Cecil Beach) have not even sold 10,000 copies between them.
No doubt these figures will be used to sound the death knell of contemporary literary fiction. Not so in my eyes. These year’s Booker list contains four debuts. Who knows what these writers will do next and being part of a high profile book prize can only be a good thing.
On top of this it must be said that none of these debut writers have a high profile pair of breasts. Or even one breast. That is always a fillip these days.
In fact, all days.
I believe that if you are good enough you will get noticed and stick around.
What do these films have in common?
On The Town, The Big Sleep, Strangers on a Train, Sunset Boulevard, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, Touch of Evil
None of them made Variety’s Top 20.
There are plenty of Victorian novelists who sold millions of copies in their day and are now unheard of.
Who wants fast money and cheap thrills? It is better to be good at what you do, surely?
Daniel Levitin in ‘This Is Your Brain On Music’ writes that it takes 10,000 hours of doing any artistic endeavour before you can be said to be a master at it. It is the same for music, writing, singing and so on. And while those 10,000 hours doesn’t guarantee success, obviously, they need to be there in the background.
I have been writing seriously since about 2000 but I don’t want to do the maths, adding hours to days to weeks to years. I know I am no master. But hopefully those hours that I put in mean I am getting better.
I am currently editing ‘The Penguin Variations’. I am going through the first draft. Very quickly I can see that it needs a lot of work. I’ve cut a character this week, a few thousand words. I chop stuff easily, bits of dialogue, move sentences around. It is a little better. And on the next edit it will be a little better again. And the edit after that.
You never know though. I have no idea if it is any good. And 10,000 hours is a hell of a long time.
Perhaps it is time for that breast enlargement?