Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Living with Caligula

The Christmas shopping outing to Edinburgh has come and gone for another year. Three shops, three pubs and a suitable finale in the bar of the Balmoral Hotel, courtesy of Caligula, while we waited for the train.
The first thing I did was pop into Waterstones to see if my book was still in stock and it gave another nice illustration of the ups and downs of authordom and the way publishing works. My dad asked me how it was selling the other day, because people looking to buy Caligula as a Christmas present hadn't been able to get it in their usual shop in the Borders.
In Waterstones the first thing I noticed was a very prominent display of Warrior of Rome, the Harry Sidebottom debut novel I regard, along with Ben Kane's The Lost Legion, as a kind of benchmark of where I should be. In the first weeks it was published Warrior had a short spell in the Top Ten hardback fiction, which isn't bad.
Waterstones were offering the airport version for half price (under the guise of a special Christmas edition) along with twenty or thirty best-sellers by well-known authors, and had eight or ten out on the shelves. Caligula, on the other hand was represented by a single copy tucked away among the Js in the A-Z. It's in line with what I've found on my wanderings, a copy or two here and there taking their chance at the back of the shop. It's also what I expected, an unknown debut author will, if he's fortunate, have a nice steady rising sales curve, but after a few months, unless he/she's very fortunate it will tail away. I've no complaints about the way Caligula has been promoted, far from it. Transworld have done a great job and I've no doubt it wouldn't have sold half as many copies without the generous discount. The book is on sale from India to Italy, America to Australia and Norway to New Zealand.
And it's beginning to happen again. The first launch was so successful Blackwells in Edinburgh have asked to host the take-off of my second novel. The blog will soon be Countdown to Claudius.
Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year