Meet the Author...good or bad promo?
The 1131 video clips on Meet the Author are a good promotional tool for some authors, but not for all.
For example, I enjoyed listening to Mitch Albom talking about his first book Tuesdays With Morrie.
Here's a description of the book - "Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly 20 years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying of ALS - or motor neurone disease - Morrie visited Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live. This is a chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world."
I shall look out for that title and all Albom's subsequent books. The MtA clip sent me straight to his website. He also has a couple of blogs.
I also enjoyed listening to Alexander McCall Smith's puff for his new book The Right Attitude to Rain. His voice immediately reminded me of John and Alan Boon and all the other British publishers I met in the Sixties and Seventies before mellifluous voices went out of fashion and we had to adjust to Sky-speak and other ugly accents.
On the other hand…
But it has to be said that the Meet the Author video of Katie Fforde talking about Restoring Grace and the video of Joanna Trollope explaining the background of Second Honeymoon doesn't do either of these authors justice.
I have met both writers and they are far more attractive than the MtA clips suggest. If you haven't already been there, take a look at KF's website. JT's site is here.
Katie explained that having run out of real life experiences to base her novels on, she has to fall back on research. For Restoring Grace, she studied picture restoration.
According to Ms Trollope, life is much harder for today's young than it was in the past. Among the "terrible modern misfortunes" confronting them are loss of job, becoming pregnant, getting dumped and getting into debt. Her book Second Honeymoon is about the empty nest syndrome and the problems of parents rebuilding marriages after not having had each other to themselves for maybe 25 years.
After muttering "What a load of codswallop!" to myself, I went off to Amazon US to see how American reviewers reacted to Ms Trollope's themes.
They are lapping them up. One wrote "Anyone who has had to suffer an "empty nest" can empathize completely with Edie Boyd, whom we meet on the first page grieving for her youngest son in his impossibly messy room that, obviously, the author got from my OWN son's room. For several pages, I thought the son was dead, and was in tears...until I realized that he had merely moved out. And then I wept for the absolute recognition of that terrible feeling: "I Have Nobody to Mother"!"
Another wrote – "Edie is distraught...her youngest child, Ben, 22 years old, has moved out of home to live with his girlfriend. Edie and her husband, theatrical agent, Russell have two older children who have both moved into their own flats and the shock of being without any children at home has just hit Edie like a blow. Unless you've had this happen, it probably seems to be an exaggerated state of mind, but if your last child or your only child has gone, it is truly like a gaping hole that you can never imagine being filled, and is a genuinely terrible sense of loss...If you've been there, you'll know what I mean!"
It's good [for her sales] that Ms Trollope is in tune with the mindsets of certain types of readers. But is it a good thing for women in general when influential authors encourage outlooks and promote ideas that are antipathetic to happiness?
There's something seriously wrong with a marriage in which the husband and wife can't find time for each other for as long as a quarter of a century. Sensible parents encourage their children to leave the nest at the earliest opportunity. A 22-year-old is a man, not a boy.
No doubt my views are coloured by the fact that, being more than a decade older than Joanna Trollope, who was born in 1943, I remember WW2 vividly, including nights spent in an Anderson air raid shelter during the blitz on Norwich. Being without a shelter of our own, my mother and I were "guests" in the shelter. The owners' eldest grandson, although only 15, was a Civil Defence messenger who spent those nights riding about on his bike, in the blackout, carrying messages between air raid wardens' posts. When you've known someone like that, it's impossible to sympathise with relatively trivial problems and namby-pamby attitudes.
Meet the Author's new partner
I was interested to read that "An agreement between Publishing News Ltd and Meet the Author Ltd will give PNL access to a range of high-quality, multimedia content for its websites while providing Meet the Author with general book news for its own service. Meet the Author, launched by former BBC Radio Oxford broadcaster David Freeman in 2004 and for which he won the Nielsen BookData Award for Innovation at the British Book Trade Awards in 2005, contains some 1,200 video clips of author interviews, which will provide an enriching addition to PNL's own websites, www.bookbeat.co.uk, a promotional tool for publishers launched late last year, and www.galaxybritishbookawards.com
Selected Meet the Author content is already available via the Amazon, Blackwells, Waterstone's and lovereading websites and its addition to PNL's own websites enables the company to offer a more attractive package to publishers, with the interactive dimension likely to boost site traffic among consumers as well as the trade.
Simon Blake, Commercial Director of Meet the Author, welcomed the development: “We are constantly striving to expand the distribution platform of our author video clips and we are delighted that Publishing News is making them available via its websites. The addition of news from the book industry, provided by Publishing News, is an important development in our quest to ensure that our website remains fresh and up-to-date.”