If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you probably already know that yesterday was an exciting day.
|Photo: Niels Noordhoek|
Given the number of books out there and the limited marketing budgets of most smaller publishers (and, increasingly of larger ones as well) the efforts of online book bloggers are really important. One of the most influential is Rosy Amber. She heads a team of reviewers and between them they cover hundreds of books in a year, posting their reviews at rosieamber.wordpress.com. At the end of the year the reviewers draw up a shortlist of their favourites, which go to a public vote for the books of the year. It isn't the Booker, but it's a nice recognition of the work that less well-known authors put in. And this year I am thrilled to tell you that 'Back Home' was the runner up in their Historical Fiction category.
That seemed a pretty good way to end 2016. But this morning there is more! I am a member of the Historical Writers Association who published the excellent online magazine, Historia. The latest addition leads with a front-page interview with to writers of the 19th century historical fiction, comparing the way they approach their subject. One is the excellent Paul Collard (author of the Jack Lark books) and the other is ME!!!
I think that writers are always looking for what psychologists call "validation". Writing is a solitary activity. We hide in garrets scribing away and eventually release our books into the world where, unless we are very, very lucky, they will vanish into a huge pool of other books, leaving scarcely a ripple on the water. We are all slightly obsessive about sales figures, not because we are ever going to make any money (realistically, we’re not) but because we so want to think that there are people out there who have read and enjoyed what we have written. That's another reason why we are constantly asking people to leave reviews – and if you have read anything by less well-known author and enjoyed it, please do review it, because it does mean such a lot. Comments on blog posts leave a warm glow. Fan mail can feed an author emotionally for a month. But awards, or the acknowledgement of your peers – that’s super special. And to have both in two days is just mind blowing. It's the best early Christmas present I could ask for.
If you have bought any of my books, or reviewed them, or voted for me for Rosie’s award, or just been one of those many, many people who have said the odd nice word when reviews have been thin on the ground and sales have been rotten, I really do want to say THANK YOU. It is the support of readers that keeps writers writing and we really are very, very grateful for it.
I will be stepping away from the keyboard soon to take a Christmas break. I am looking forward to a lovely Christmas, all the better for such good news in December. I hope you all have fantastic holidays too and that you find many new books to enjoy in 2017.