2009 turned out to be a great year. Publication of my novel ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ in Canada came with the completely unexpected and truly wonderful bonus of winning the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction - the GG. Since then, the book has been in the Canadian bestseller charts and has sold into several other territories, including the US, where Touchstone/Simon & Schuster bought it a few days before Christmas. They plan to publish in January 2011.
Here in the UK the fate of the novel has been much more mixed. When it came out there was a flurry of reviews, mostly good, as well as the virtual book tour which resulted in a series of interviews on great book blogs. However, the book failed to find its way into UK bookshops on the whole; shops that stocked it did so briefly. Now the only way to buy the book is online. I think perhaps a year ago I might have felt this didn’t matter, but my recent in experience in the Canadian market, where the book has been heavily promoted in the chains and even in the big box stores, shows me what a difference this can make to the fate of a book, in particular, enabling a book to find its way to readers who are new to my work. It’s interesting, if a little confusing, to contrast the progress of the book in terms of sales between Canada and the UK; it’s exactly the same book in both markets, after all.
I started writing this blog in the autumn of 2008, thinking I would write it for a year, tracking the progress of publication. But of course now I’m hooked, though in a minor, infrequent, kind of way. I’ve read a few interesting pieces of late about whether or not blogging and the use of other social media can influence book sales and/or a writer’s profile - the jury seems to be out on that one still. But because of my work in the digital realm, keeping a blog up and running makes sense to me.
In the meantime, the holiday is now well and truly over. I will continue to write this blog, and I’m also going to go for a total redesign of my website. I’ll be back in Canada at the end of February for both a digital conference and more events/readings for ‘The Mistress of Nothing’. The Fiction module I teach on the MA in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University starts next week; I am looking forward to that. The composer with whom I’m collaborating on the opera based on ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is coming to London soon, so I’ll be able to hear the first act of her orchestral score. The day long conference on Transliteracy that I’m helping to run at DMU will take place on 9 Feb - abstracts and registration are now available here. The nine multimedia short stories that Chris Joseph and I are creating for the educational publisher Rising Stars, ‘Lifelines’, are nearly finished. I’m a year older.
Happy New Year.