How I loathe and detest the dastardly business of dissemination of information about what I have so recently written. Now that I realise these emotions and reactions are common I don’t feel much better about it and long to be in a more secure financial position – one that would support the hiring of a professional publicist.
Those who write seem to be inordinately territorial – at times so hugely so it is astonishing to behold. Each time I stumble across this attitude I am freshly flabbergasted. After all, none of us is likely to set the literary world ablaze with what trickles through our laptops.
A couple of years ago I wrote a book about growing up in a corner of North Kent, in a small industrial riverside town. I enjoyed writing the book and though I say it myself, it reads quite well. So when I discovered that very same community from whence I came now boasted a Local History Society, meeting on a monthly basis in the Church Hall – yes indeed, that same ancient Church I describe on more than one occasion within my very pages – well, naturally enough I was quite sure they would be interested in my book. Their website seemed to imply that they were keen to hear memories from locals, etc., etc.
But offers of free copies of my text met with a sullen silence. I thought they must have gone into winter hibernation perhaps and so I waited until fresh news of local events appeared on their tantalizing and shiny home page. I emailed again, and this time cunningly ordered a couple of the books I noted had been recently written by their president.
His books arrived – promptly. I read them and was suitably impressed. Surely he would now be interested in including my book in his list of volumes available to members? After all it was one hundred per cent pertinent to the very existence of the organization he seemed to head.
Again my messages met a brick wall of brooding taciturnity. A hostile and deepening reservoir of reserve.
His lack of interest could not have been made more obvious if he had rung me at dawn and told me to toddle off into the hinterland of the North Kent Marshes being sure to take my book of local memories with me. It was both discouraging and disappointing.
What’s more it brought sharply into focus an incident from thirty years previously when a writer `friend’ hesitated when I asked her to support my membership application for a local authors’ group. She said that she thought there might be a waiting list. She grudgingly advised she would find out for me. She never did.