Last night, we held a small event at the Book Hive in Norwich to launch my novella Playtime’s Over. Undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable, and at the same time surreal, evenings of my life. To an audience of about forty people (largely friends and family), I was introduced, fielded a few questions about my book, gave a reading, and then sat at a table signing copies and having my photo taken. All very normal things for a book launch, only it was me doing it. Which is, I’ll be honest, SO FREAKY.
Feeling very discombobulated today, unsurprisingly. There were drinks afterwards, though I’m of an age where the drinks are few and the late night is a bigger burden to shoulder than the alcohol. But yes, long story short, ready for a snooze already, and it’s only just gone six.
Keeping it short then, let’s start off by saying that we’re on sale! No more waiting, get out there and buy it! Book Hive if possible, elsewhere if not, as I’ve said before. I can’t wait for you to read it and, even more so, to hear what you think of it. Which brings me on to my next point…
Reviews! These help massively. Wherever you might do these things – your own blog, on Goodreads, on Amazon, wherever. And of course, we mustn’t forget good old word of mouth. If you read it, and you love it (or like it, or whatever), tell people. Tell your friends, coworkers, whoever. I won’t make a habit of cajoling people into spreading the word and I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to say they enjoyed it if they didn’t. But the truth is that selling books these days is hard and there’s nothing so effective as hearing, from people you know, that something’s worth a look. Not only is this book important to me, but I genuinely think its themes are important in themselves, so I will be eternally grateful for anyone who tells a friend they ought to read it.
Anyway, enough of that. On a lighter note, you may be amazed to hear that I got through the reading with barely a stutter. It is, genuinely, the first time I have ever read anything I’ve written (okay, except for a couple of speeches) in front of anyone. I’ve never joined a writing group because the thought of reading my work out in front of people makes my buttocks clench. But last night I got up and did exactly that to a roomful of people. It helps that this has been through a rigorous editing process by someone other than me, that gave me some confidence. I think, though, primarily it was knowing I had to do it, there was no way out. Whether or not it was easier because it was in front of people I know, or harder, I’m not sure.
What was weirder, given I knew most of the people there, was talking about the mental health aspects. I’ve written a lot about my mental health struggles, but I’ve never addressed a room verbally about that sort of thing. That was a bit new. But again, needed doing.
I think the weirdest thing, though, was the signing. And especially signing books to people I know and still putting my full name, because it’s a book signing not a birthday card. Writing a message to my brother in his copy and signing it ‘James Kinsley’… just bizarre.
Honestly though, one of the proudest moments of my life. I’ve a lot of people to thank for it, not least of all Henry, my publisher and editor. My lifelong ambition has come to pass because he… I was going to say ‘took a chance’, but honestly, he’s a smart man who knows what he likes. I don’t even think it’s fair to say he’s taking a chance on me. He’s publishing it because he believes in this book. I also owe, unsurprisingly, a huge thank you to my family, especially my parents and my wife. And the network of friends around me who have all played their part in being supportive, both of this endeavour and of me generally.
One of the questions I was asked last night was about the differences between me and my protagonist, given the directly personal nature of some of the book. And my answer, which I’d never considered before, came surprisingly quickly. Will is, in some senses, analogous to me. His thoughts and feelings about a number of things are closely aligned to my own – the difference is the people around us. My family and friends, and the love they’ve always shown me, are exactly the reason I’ve created Will, rather than been him. So however I know you, sincerely, thank you.
Photo credit: Max Hilton
(buy my book!)