I’m new to writing books. I’m in a strange limbo state between having a book accepted for publication and actually having it bought and read by strangers. And today I realised that I have an awful lot to learn when it comes to Being an Author in public.
I was at a fabulously posh lunch with my sister and was showing off the uncorrected proof of When I Was Joe, the first time she’d seen it looking like a book. So, sweetie that she is, she showed it off to her friend who was sitting next to me. The friend grabbed it and read the back cover blurb, which contains the line: ‘Then he meets a girl with a dangerous secret of her own.’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘What’s the secret?’
Now what I could have done is grabbed the book back and said, ‘None of your business’. What I should have done is said: ‘Aha…you’ll have to buy it to find out. You can pre-order on Amazon and it’ll be with you in January.’
What did I do? I told her the secret. Duh! What an idiot! Although it was almost worth it, for the look of surprised horror that came over her face. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Do I want my daughter to read this book?’
Now what I could have said is, ‘Do you think I’d let your daughter read my book? You must be joking! Children with over-protective parents are banned from reading my book!’ What I should have said is, ‘It’s really aimed at children who make up their own minds what they want to read.’ But what I did say was, ‘Oh, don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds.’ Duh! Dissing my own book! Giving away my own secrets! Unbelievable.
So from now on, I tell no one anything about the plot. I stand firm against over anxious parents. I make the book sound as exciting and as interesting as I hope it is.
And then I can get to work on finding an answer to that killer question: ‘Do you think you’re going to be the next JK Rowling?’