about writing and life and God

When the new baby takes all your energy

on September 2, 2013

I was advising a friend’s brother-in-law this afternoon about getting a rather good book of translated poetry published. My first port of call in preparation for our meeting was Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, which now contains lots of helpful articles as well as those invaluable reams and reams of listings.

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The Poetry section begins with an amusing – and very honest – article by Benjamin Zephaniah, followed by a down-to-earth article on ‘Getting poetry published’ by Michael Schmidt, editor of PN Review and director at Carcanet, as well as Professor of Poetry at Glasgow University. So you’d expect he knows what he’s talking about. And he begins with: “Start with this axiom: you have not come here to make money.”

And neither have we Christian writers. Which is just as well. We’d soon be sore disappointed. But there is a paradox: we’re not in it for the money, but we do want our books to reach as many people as possible. And that means sales.

Someone recently stopped me and asked were the sales of my new book, Still Caring, doing well. I gaped. It’s only been out a week or so!

But then I remembered when I was publisher for business books at McGraw-Hill UK, I reckoned there was a visible sales pattern: sharp take-off from day one (books into stores as a result of good repping), leading to a plateau at eighteen months, and then — depending on author activity — a rapid or slow tailing off till the first print-run was sold out, or we were left with a thousand or so unsaleable books in the warehouse, and the commissioning editor with a red face. (It is said that this is why commissioning editors moved companies every eighteen months – before the results were in!)

I’m still working pretty hard at promotion for the new book. I’m being interviewed by the lovely Lesley Dolphin of BBC Radio Suffolk on Wednesday afternoon, sometime around 3 p.m. (You can hear it live or  ‘Listen Again’ online at There are a couple more print media to receive customised press releases for insertion in their October editions, and then a couple more radio interviews. Hopefully this will help local sales keep ticking over.

But on the corner of my desk is the printed-out draft of the novel and I’m longing to get back to it. But the new baby is demanding all my time and energy! I fear the novel will sulk or storm like an ignored toddler and I’ll find it hard to renew our previous relationship. I wonder do other writers have a good way of dealing with this?

Meanwhile, I have a service to prepare for Sunday, a talk for a lady’s meeting tomorrow afternoon- and it’s hot, hot, hot! Still, the blog is written so that’s one tick on myTo-Do list today!



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