Season of Mists and TBR Lists


Please please read my book!

No not mine. Although that would be nice. But to judge from Twitter and its sister sites, everyone and his granny has written a novel and would do virtually anything, and I do mean anything to get readers.

Just the other day, a twitter follower vowed that ‘she would gladly drink bleach to get me to read her book.’ She was joking naturally. At least I hope she was. But her plea reflects the general level of desperation out there.

As writers it follows we also love to read. Most writers begin as readers. However, the days when you could snuggle down with a favourite author, are long vanished. Gone is the time when I could settle in for the long haul with the latest Sarah Waters, or work through the entire canon of fifties novelist Elizabeth Taylor without a stab of guilt. Haven’t I promised to various self-published friends, acquaintances, and people I don’t know from Adam that I’ll read their latest, just as soon as I get a moment? Isn’t it downright mean of me to disappear behind the covers of a classic John Fowles, when I promised J.J.Carbuncle that I would read his #Demon Angel of the Apocalypse Book 99 of Series 7 just as soon as I erm…get a moment?

Any writer gaining a foothold on the slippery slopes of online Social Media knows that supporting other writers is essential. And so it should be. We’re a family aren’t we? We all understand the agonies of the publishing circus, and the joy of cradling our firstborn novel in our eager mitts. The ‘I’ll read yours if you read mine’ is an unspoken rule of this game.

‘I can’t wait to read’ we promise each other. No, I really can’t. Happily this is frequently true. There are a lot of talented writers out there, and thanks to increasingly risk averse publishers many of them go the indie route. Too often though we promise to read because we feel guilty, harassed, obliged, sympathetic, or simply bullied into it.

Meanwhile, the TBR list grows to mind numbing proportions. Reading ceases to be a pleasure. It begins to feel like homework. Worse, it feels like maths homework. Before long you’re praying that JJ.Carbuncle gets writers’ block before Series 8 hits Amazon. Reading a novel by your favourite author, starts to feel wickedly self-indulgent. Especially if he/she is a member of the literary establishment. Such people, whether by talent, good timing, or sheer good luck don’t need to drink bleach to get readers. Gin and tonic is more their thing. Their readership is assured. They’ve won or been short listed for major prizes, they are regularly reviewed in the broad sheets. Enough said.

I should add that as an editor for The Writers’ Workshop reading is part of my day job. Reading with an editor’s hat on is a different kind of pleasure, always an absorbing challenge. When I read as an ordinary reader, I am off-duty, in my P.Js, feet up with a mug of cocoa hoping to be swept away into another world.


Meanwhile, I’m not going to drink bleach to get you to read my book. Cocoa…possibly…


Just released: ‘The Testament of Vida Tremayne’ by Sarah Vincent, published by Three Hares Publishing.


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