Saturday, 11 September 2010

Waiting for Godot

Really tired now. Just come back from a 3 hour book-signing at Waterstone's.

Sounds great, doesn't it? The reality though is rather different.

First of all it took weeks and weeks to arrange; an appointment with the manager to discuss the book, then fill in these forms, then wait for approval from head office, wait a bit longer, ring up once a week for 4 weeks until head office had deigned to respond, then choose a suitable Saturday morning, but no dice... "I'm afraid somebody important is coming that week" (Nigella? Who She?), and the next (SAS Hero) So choose today. Lug very heavy box of new books from home to shop, no parking nearby, so arrive in a muck-sweat and exhausted. Need not have hurried as nothing happens for a long time.

Sit at small table with pile of books and wait. Smile at customers as they pass by my table. Make eye-contact. Feel very like Rowan Atkinson playing the part of a pillock.

Wait some more. Walk round store, return to table, sit down, yawn, make more eye-contact. No takers. You could see the punters thinking 'Uh oh! Elderly gentleman selling book with God in the title, may be dangerous religous fanatic or other unsavoury character so best avoided' "Rachel come away from that table darling".

At last, a young man takes an interest in my book. He's going to University soon to read Philosophy. Intelligent conversation ensues, hurrah! But he's only browsing today as he has no money. Takes the details anyway.

Than another young man takes an interest. His father is a vicar and would, it seems, be very interested in my views. If only he were here.

Then two middle-aged ladies appear from nowhere, pick up the book and buy a copy each, just like that, no questions asked.

Then another lady appears to be fascinated by the title. "Is it about Dogs?" "Not really, its more about Gods" I say. "Oh, what a pity" she says,and walks off.

By this time I am sincerely wishing that religious protesters had threatened to fire-bomb the building and exterminate me if I turned up for a book signing, so then I would have been safely at home, relaxing and drinking coffee, a la Tony Blair.

Maybe I should ask the manager for a copy of the Koran and ceremonially burn it?

Finally a young man with long hair and a badge proclaiming 'I love (heart-shape) furry' stood nearby for a while, then plucked up courage to approach me and ask me what I thought about animals and their spirituality.

"Well that's a very interesting question and my book does discuss it" I said, so then he told in some considerable detail that he has great empathy with animals and in fact they talk to him, and even wild animals that nobody can train become docile in his presence, and a robin once fluttered nearby until he followed it to its nest and its mate was hurt and the robin was asking for his help, but unfortunately the lady robin was beyond help, which he managed to convey to the male robin with body-language, and another time he was in a cage with a sea-eagle which could tear barbed wire apart with its talons and ripped men to shreds and when I woke up it was half an hour later and he was still there with yet another empathetic animal anecdote. Then we moved onto the question of previous civilizations and nuclear wars before the time of Christ and his extensive research on the subject of radio-active ruined cities. Next we had space-fiction adventures as described in the Bible (rocket-ships, jet-planes etc.) Finally, Hallelujah, we moved onto the reason for our little discussion which was his ambition to become a writer. He has written nine science fiction novels so far (the first when he should have been working for GCSE), all with very, very complicated and interlocking plots, but he doesn't want to approach a publisher until the plot cycle has burnt itself out. Let me know if you're interested.

Oh, and if you ever think about publishing an important book about religion ....don't.


  1. What are the statistics for your book sales?

    Do you have info that tells you where your book is selling best?

    I'm intrigued by the amount of work that needs to go into getting a book distributed - when the publishers don't have lots of money to spend promoting it for you.

    How much do you need to do yourself?

    Ali x

  2. I'm sure you can describe it as an International best seller now that you have a sales base in the USA. I've started re reading it, as it usually takes 2 passes now for it to sink in.

  3. Ali- It's a big subject. I'll do a Post or two on it shortly.
    Legend- Good idea to read it twice. I had to read it 3 times and I'm still puzzled.