Sunday, 23 June 2013

Support your local author...er, no

I guess at the outset of this post it is important to make clear that, in spite of the fact that 'The Book That THEY...' is perhaps the most fantastically inventive and brilliantly-written book of this and maybe every other century, I should not expect anything other than the slow maturation of global recognition of its superb-ness, like a giant stonking oak forming from the tiniest of acorns.
However, what I could have perhaps expected was a little bit more support from those around me...and by that, I definitely do not mean friends and family and likers and followers and buyers, all of whom have been really, really supportive to the point beyond brilliance (and I love you all)...no, what I mean is those potential avenues that could (and in my humble opinion, perhaps should) do more to promote what is a book by a local author (born-and-bred), featuring a very Lancastrian hero and set (for Part 1 at least) in and around the local area that is Darwen and Horwich and Manchester.
Yes, I'm talking about my 'local' promotional vehicles and outlets.
Like all books by anyone other than Dan Brown or J.K.Rowling, there is a need for the author to do their bit to promote their work, which is fair enough and I have no problem with that. One of the areas where such promotion usually bears fruit is the author's own geographical backyard, their local patch where their achievement can be lauded, celebrated and, yes, promoted by their own; I approached this opportunity with much enthusiasm.
Alas, the balloon of local expectation has been very quickly deflated by the forces of rejection and indifference.
For example:
  • On the publication of Part 1, I e-mailed a certain free magazine about life in Blackburn with Darwen, asking whether it would be an article of interest - no response.
  • I also e-mailed the local Blackburn newspaper (which shall, of course, remain nameless) - again, no response (it's the failure to respond which really narks)
  • I contacted my local bookstore (you know, the one with the well-known brand of coffee shop inside it) to ask if, seeing as they sell my e-book on their web-site, they'd be willing to put a small notice up next to their Kindles highlighting the work of a local author - the manager responded (which is a positive) to say that they can't do anything like that unless told to by head-office; end of debate.
  • Local book clubs - some have responded (thanks, Daniel), but most have not.
  • There are other examples, but I won't bore you with them.
You see, my friends, what I find just a bit galling (and I don't want to sound all whiney here) is that so many of the possible avenues I have explored actually promote their own 'local-ness' as a virtue, as something that they are proud of and should be celebrated and, more importantly, supported; and yet, when something of genuine local interest comes along (as I think someone writing a sci-fi book set in Lancashire is), they are simply not interested.
To the raging cynic in me, it would appear that they flaunt their 'local-ness' only when it suits them, but ignore it if they see no benefit in it for them.
The worst example of 'not supporting your local author' comes from Lancashire Magazine (yes, I will name them). I contacted them to ask if they'd be interested in doing a piece about a book with a local hero written by someone who has lived in Lancashire all their life; their response was to say, possibly, but only if I took out a quarter-page advertisement at a cost of £395.
Naturally, my response was 'fuck that!' (though I was too nice to put that in the e-mail!)

The only silver lining I can provide on what, in my eyes at least, is a damning indictment of those who claim to be 'local' failing to support something genuinely 'local', is a potential interview in another local newspaper - however, the interview itself did happen five weeks ago and, as yet, nothing has made it into print.
I do, however, remain eternally hopeful and my positivity is undimmed.