Nelli and I went to London to meet with Quercus again, this time to discuss the marketing of DM 1.
In anticipation of meeting with Key Accounts (Waterstone's, Amazon etc.) Quercus have produced a bookproof copy of the Demi-Monde which looks to all-intents-and purposes just like the finished product. It's this bookproof which will be given to the account representatives to assess and go out to reviewers and other opinion-leaders in the SF/Fantasy community to pass judgement on.
First impressions? It looks dauntingly thick but as I was assured the SF/Fantasy reader likes a little heft in their books maybe I shouldn't be too concerned. The cover looks great. It's been 'distressed' since I last saw it and I think looks better for it. Very steampunky but intriguing at the same time.
It's an odd feeling to actually be holding your book, a REAL book with a cover and pages and your name on the front. The whole process from story idea to bound copy has taken a little over eighteen months and in that time the book has taken on a sort of nebulous aspect: you know it's all real and that things are happening but the end product seems tantalisingly far away. Yeah, now I can appreciate how Tantalus felt.
The problem is that concerns about the style and the story and the plot and the edit have now been superceded by a more practical concern: will the thing sell. The thought that after all this hard work (and it's kinda humbling when there are five or six people sitting around a table talking about how they're gonna help your book be a success) if the book isn't read it'll be a real bummer. Course, I was encouraged by the Quercus team, they've got lots of experience and enthusiasm and seem pretty confident, but as everyone keeps reminding me there's a lot of competition for the reader's attention out there.
Reading various blogs by established writers there seems to be a strange reluctance to admit to wanting your book to do well. It appears to be very non-U to want to be a best seller, that promoting your book is rather declasse. It seems that a lot of people prefer (or so they would have us believe) that a book should be a success by dint of a kind of reader-led osmosis. Unfortunately it's impossible to have a reader-led success if no one reads the bloody thing in the first place.
So marketing and promotion are important if the book is to be given a chance to shine and after that...well, everything is in the hands of the gods and the reading public.
The main message I got from Quercus was to be patient and to let nature take its course. The problem is that I take most of my inspiration from the old poster showing two vultures gazing down on the veldt and one saying to the other 'Patience my ass; let's go down and kill something!' I need to be patient but unfortunately that isn't one of my main character traits. So it's deep breath time.
It's quite fascinating though to listen to publishing experts strut their stuff, especially regarding how the book will be sold into the trade, the positioning of the hardback (6th January 2011, folks) and the paperback (August 2011) and then of course there's the eBook (launch date still being debated). This is really exciting stuff and I reckon the DM eBook will be quite something. I might even be persuaded to buy an iPad!