Monday 17 August 2009

And speaking of Paul Charles...

Paul Charles now has a rather swanky web presence in the form of his brand new website and accompanying blog. It's very well put together and easy on the eye. And it got me thinking about writing websites in general. It's something I've noticed that the typical Norn Iron writer is a little lacking in. Why is that?

Maybe Adrian McKinty was on to something with his recent blog post. When relaying an excellent Guardian review of his latest, Fifty Grand, he admitted that he didn't feel all that comfortable with blowing his own trumpet. And his blog, interesting and thought-provoking though it is, doesn't feature a great many posts about his writing processes or career highlights.

But if we take a look at Stuart Neville's internet activities you'll get a lesson in using the internet to its full marketing potential. Stuart has a website dedicated to his writing career, a blog, a Facebook account and a Twitter account. He's also published a number of stories online (which is how he was first noticed by Nat Sobel, his agent) and been active in getting his novel into the hands of bloggers.

I've met both McKinty and Neville in person and they share a lot of similarities. Neither of them have humongous egos, despite their jealousy-inspiring achievements, and they both have a good sense of humour and the ability to spin a yarn outside the pages of their books. Is it to do with when and how they got published? McKinty, as far as I know (correct me if I'm wrong, Ade), went the more traditional route; paper manuscripts and postal submissions; whereas Neville's publishing success is an internet fairy tale of online magazines and email submissions.



Stuart Neville said...


As your post says, the whole internet thing has been tied up with my writing from the start, even before The Twelve was written, then through the process of putting it together, then getting a deal. That in turn comes from being involved with the internet in my day job, so it kind of came naturally.

If I hadn't been involved with the internet day-to-day, would my writing be so wrapped up in that? It's hard to say, but I certainly wouldn't have had the breaks that I had.

Paul's site is excellent, btw - nice and clear with no gimmicks, exactly what a good site should be. And I had no idea about his musical background! Impressive.

adrian mckinty said...


For me it was sending manuscripts off to publishers and then when that failed miserably, sending manuscripts off to agents which was more successful.

My main problem, I feel, is being a dour Presbyterian from County Antrim - we could be the most repressed people on the planet. I've seen Amish with more joie de vivre (I really have); we Presbies make the English look like crazy extroverts. I'm not kidding. I wouldn't wear yellow until I was 30and even then it was a lifejacket and I still felt a bit uncomfortable about it. I'd rather drown with a sense of decorum, I remember thinking.

All of this makes it almost impossible for me to be a writer and a blogger. I tried really hard to publish under a nom de plume until at a dinner in NYC I was browbeaten into using my own name by my editor and agent. And to be honest if I had to do it all over again, I really think I would prefer to have no blog and to publish anonymously.

Yes its a hang up, but what can you do?

seana graham said...

Well, this is a really interesting post, and thanks to all three of you. I think I'd say up front that anyone's ability to negotiate the internet has zero to do with their writing ability either way. It's partly temperament and it's partly a generational thing.

I don't think it's a hangup to crave anonymity, Adrian. One of my friends, an introvert, told me recently that the blogosphere was a way for extroverts to take over writing. Possibly, but I also think it's a way that introverts can extrovert themselves and still stay in some fashion true to themselves. I find that working in retail for most of my adult life has given me the means of creating a falsely extroverted front, but just barely. I suppose the blogosphere functions in something like the same way for me.

In the absence of reviewers and other more public venues that are going to do the time-honored work of publicity, all these social networking things do become the fallback. And I think it's great that it works for some people. As an illustration, I can see it working rather well for Shakespeare, but I can't quite see it working for Nabokov, can you? (Well, Vera would probably handle all the fans, so I suppose that's not a good example.) And you could go down the list of famous writers in that way, I bet.

Stuart, I'm hoping a sales rep is bringing a galley of The Ghosts of Belfast my way as we speak. And Adrian, although I can understand the regrets about having started the whole blogging enterprise, it would be our loss if you hadn't. I do mean that quite sincerely.

Anonymous said...

From a readers perspective i've found the blogs a great source of information. i've discovered too many new authors and no time to read them all...maybe i need to stop reading the blogs!
Also i've got a glimpse of the publishing world, just enough to realise i'm glad i'm not a writer, it seems hard work! keep up the good work.
thanks for the link to paul charles blog, i'm off to read another blog and spend more time on the net instead of reading the words on paper...
Allen McKay

Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, it would be interesting to learn know if you get that galley of Ghosts .... I'm getting the feeling that the buildup for this book is such that that Soho does not feel it has to take non-traditional outlets such as blogs into account, and more power to Stuart for this. The excerpt I read was damned good, and I look forward to reading the whole book.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

seana graham said...

Yeah, I saw that Soho did a sort of sampler that Stuart's book is in, so that may be all that's available. I'm not crazy about samplers personally--I find them frustrating, and usually don't bother, preferring to wait till I can read a whole copy. But Soho, though very good at what they do, is not the largest house, so I don't know what their marketing budget is. This comes through a very good sales rep, so I assume she'll do what she can. But I'll find a way to read it, regardless.

Allan, I'm with you on how much there is to learn by reading in the blogosphere. It can be kind of overwhelming, but mainly in a good way.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Samplers must be an established part of Soho's strategy, then. Soho handed out one at Bouchercon that included chapters from four authors. They're attractive little packages and, who knows, they might be good at places like conventions, where the crowds might not have read the authors but would be disposed to do so.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"