1. What are you writing now?
Personally I don’t like to talk much about what I am writing. I don’t think I am alone in that among authors. I need ideas to percolate inside my head, and then to work them through carefully on paper before I inflict them on the world.
Writing is first a very private business and then a very public one. While you are writing you don’t want anyone to know what you are up to and then, when you have finished it, you want everyone to read it!
One reason it’s not a great idea to discuss your ideas is that it allows in outside opinion too early. What if you have what you think is a viable idea, you invest time in preliminary work on it, then excitedly tell a pal. They say ‘oh, that sounds a bit dull’ and bang, there’s your confidence in the idea dented.
Opinions are like a-holes, everybody’s got one. It’s better to finish your book then hear what people think about it – good or bad.
2. How many copies has your book sold?
A couple of reasons why this one is problematic. Firstly – we often don’t know how many copies our book has sold. Publishers tell us only every few months at best and there’s no accurate way of finding out other then through them. The second reason is this – think of a number – no, it’s actually a lot lower than that! Unless you are JK Rowling the number of books you sell is likely to be so low you’d rather not tell everyone about it. Authors signed to small publishers, like me, don’t sell thousands of books – if we are lucky we sell hundreds, and not all of us get even that fortunate.
3. Where do you get your ideas from?
Honestly – I don’t know. Will that do as an answer? Nope, thought not. Sometimes you can trace an idea back through your thought processes to its genesis, other times they seem to pop out of thin air. Often they emerge from other ideas. The magic and the wonder of creativity is that none of us is really sure exactly how it works.
4. Who is your favourite author?
So many to choose from and, if I pick just one, it will sound like I have modelled my work around theirs and that won’t be fair on me or them. Also, I love books and I have read too many to count. I adore the work of authors in the same way other people idolise movie stars. I can’t pick just one.
5. Will you give me a free copy of your book?
This one’s hard to answer because a refusal often offends. Funnily enough it’s not close friends or family who ask you this. They know the amount of work and effort which you put into writing a book and they want to support you by buying one. It tends to be acquaintances who expect a free book and I guess they believe they are doing you a favour by offering to read it. They perhaps don’t realise that you have to pay for books you get from the publisher or appreciate that they cost money to produce – it’s not just the author’s work but the editor’s, the cover designer’s the printer’s and so on. The main reason I don’t like giving my books away free is because it suggests that my work is worthless – and it is not.
Any tough to answer questions that I’ve missed? Comments below!
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‘Loved this book, a bloke’s view of the dating game, made me laugh out loud.’