It’s publicity time for The Pick-Up Artist at the moment, which means I have to do various interviews etc for the media. Being a literary small fry this mostly means local press and radio, local mags, that sort of thing.
The first problem for me is having my photo taken. This is something you become gradually more allergic to as you get older I think.
When I was in my 20s it didn’t bother me one bit having my picture in the papers. I was a newspaper reporter back then and I remember one occasion when I was writing a series of features on a body-building competition they printed a full length picture of me on the front page wearing just a pair of budgie-smugglers. Did I mind? Did I heck – such are the joys of youth.
These days it’s a different story of course and being pictured in your pants on the front page sounds like the penalty for some heinous crime.
Now I don’t look forward to having my picture taken and, though I don’t exactly believe it will steal my soul I do admit would be grateful if someone stuck in a picture of Brad Pitt instead of me. A social media friend, trying to be supportive, said Brad Pitt looks vacant and is this the look I’m going for? But to be frank I would take vacant all day long as the pictures of me which do appear in newspapers always seem to show me looking confused and a little guilty as though I’ve just been caught on CCTV up to no good.
I always feel that rather than ‘Local man’s book published’ a more suitable headline would be ‘Local man’s shame at drunken escapade.’
Then there’s what you say in the interview. I’ve always preferred asking questions to answering them and, in a funny way, I think asking questions is a novelist’s job. But, come publicity time, here you are, being asked a lot of questions about what you’ve done and why you’ve done it.
It pays to think the issue through before you put yourself in an interview situation I find, otherwise you can find you have no answers. Writing creatively is quite an instinctive affair in a lot of ways. You do it without necessarily having a written manifesto for what you want to achieve, what your aims are, or your motivations. So, if you get asked these questions and you haven’t decided on answers in advance, you can find you go to the well and come up empty.
I usually find something to say, which is a blessed relief, especially on radio where the alternative is an awful silence.
But the media, and local media in particularly, doesn’t really do book reviews any more, so if you want to get a mention for your pride and joy at all then interviews it is.
It’s a necessary evil if you have a book out and there’s no point crying off because you’re too shy since what’s the point of having a book published if nobody gets to see it?