Hazel McHaffie

Sock it to me

I’m sending this week’s post a day early because I’m off down south (near London) to lead workshops in medical ethics. A whole day of challenging people to think about my favourite subjects. Wahey!

And a welcome break, because I have to confess, I’ve been feeling rather discombobulated and chagrined this week. Why? Because the time is fast approaching for me to resolve the matter of how I publish Over My Dead Body, and the decision certainly wasn’t made any clearer when I delved into the whole business of trying to get one’s book noticed amongst the welter of volumes coming off the press every month. Which led me to marketing, publicity campaigns, reviews and networking … yawn, yawn.

Literary journals like The Author are packed with useful advice but they’re also brutally honest too, showing up pitfalls and problems – writers telling it just like it is for other writers. So it wasn’t long before I had to face some unpleasant truths. OK, most of us recognise that the odds are stacked against our wee book. We know all about the scramble for a share of the market, and that the winners are the ‘ones with the sharpest elbows‘, as Graham Joyce┬áputs it.

But do we have to resort to dubious practices? I’m thinking of things likeconfused

– sock puppeteering (assuming a false online identity for the purpose of publishing superlative reviews on one’s own work);

– disparaging rival authors’ work under a pseudonym;

– rewarding bloggers in return for a favourable review;

– paying cash for a ‘book-of-the-month’ accolade.

to name but a few.

Surely one’s own personal integrity has to count for something – I for one want to sleep easy in my bed.

But for all us, squeaky clean though we may personally be, any attempt by even a few to distort the picture by the use of these unpleasant or unworthy or downright dishonest tactics devalues the very currency of reviews. Who will ever believe in us?

London here I come. Hopefully I shall come back a calmer person and the old subconscious will have sifted and sorted the pros and cons for me.

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