In the good old days, many writers were forgiven all sorts of things because they were geniuses. They woke up (around noon), slipped on a silk dressing gown, breakfasted on absinthe then lay on a chaise longue waiting for the muse to arrive. If she didn’t, they’d try some laudanum or other opiates, grab a pen and scrawl a desperate sonnet or two before it was time to hit the boulevards for more absinthe and a dalliance with one or more soubrettes. The more flamboyant among them would accessorise such lifestyles in a variety of ways, many of which led to the devastations of syphilis, but my personal favourite is that of Gerard de Nerval, who used to take his pet lobster for a walk in the Jardins du Luxembourg on the end of a long ribbon.
Those days have gone now (as Flower of Scotland reminds us) and there are thousands, probably millions, of writers grabbing fleeting moments to scribble between looking after kids, being estate agents, selling insurance, driving buses or, in my case, retiring and having the leisure to write full time. Except that we can’t because, when you’ve written whatever it is, you’ve got to sell it. All of which is a preamble to confessing that, when it comes to promoting and marketing my stuff, I’m rubbish and I lament the passing of the days of silk dressing gowns and absinthe.
The proof? Last weekend, I’d arranged for my satire on online role-playing games, Alternative Dimension, to be free for three days. You see, I was being proactive. The problem was, however, that I didn’t tell anyone I’d done it. I think a total of 19 souls found out somehow that it was free and downloaded it. When I realised what an idiot I’d been (that was late on the third day of the promotion), I extended the freebie period by two days. This time I remembered to broadcast it but then along came an email reminding me that I’d also made Unsafe Acts available at the same time. At the time of writing (3.10 pm, Saturday 14), 4476 people have downloaded it, so it seems that, somehow or other, the news gets through. But think of what that figure might have been if I’d inherited the PR gene. This, however, is part of my attempt to overcome my deficiencies. The promotion is running for the rest of today and tomorrow and you can get it here in the USA and here in the UK.
If you have any questions about it, I’ll be on the chaise lounge.