Something that came up in our visit from Kirstan Hawkins (see other post) is the amount of publicity in which authors are expected to participate, especially new ones. I thought this meant physical things like turning up in your local bookshop (if you still have one) with a pile of your books to sell and doing signings and so on. As a new author you’d probably not have people queueing out the door. Even established ones don’t seem to get inundated. Just before Christmas the year before last I was in Waterstone’s Piccadilly and I wondered what the big queue was for. It turned out Nigella Lawson was signing her Christmas cookbook. I wandered around the rest of the huge bookshop for about half an hour and then realised the queue for Nigella’s signing had pretty much disappeared so I decided to buy a copy of her book and have it signed for my wife. I was surprised how friendly and pleasant Nigella was at the end of the signing — which seemed more genuine than a satisfaction that all these people weren’t buying her book half price on Amazon. And she is better looking in real life than on television.
However, the sort of publicity that a new author is expected to participate in is mainly profile-raising media activities, apparently. While there are professional publicists, their work is much more effective if the author can think of angles for press stories and the like. Apparently the alumnus from our course who’ll be visiting us next term, Penny Rudge, is quite adept at this. When I got back I did a Google News search for her and immediately found two articles that had been published in the past week or so — one in the Bradford Evening Telegraph (showing the importance of local associations) and the Independent. They both mention in footnotes that her novel, ‘Foolish Lessons in Life and Love’, has recently been published. This is in addition to the fairly lengthy article she wrote on matriachs to whichÂ Emily referred from Saturday’s Times.
According to the Independent profile, Penny Rudge used to be a computer programmer and has given up ‘a career in IT and management consultancy to become a full-time author’. Now, to paraphrase Harry Hill’s comments about men with a conspicuous lack of hair, I was a computer programmer myself for about 12 years and since then what I’ve done is largely in the area of IT consultancy (even doing an MSc in it at the moment) so, I’m not sure exactly what it is, but there’s something about Penny’s background that I seem to like.