Thirty letters today, with cheques for 24 for 3: a continuing after-shock from the Guardian review. I have run out of envelopes to post the books in. WH Smith in King Street have run out of envelopes. The nice local stationery shop that gives me a big discount is closed. On the phone, Jennie tells me to look at a wonderful, sad poem by Les Murray called Letters to the Winner.
Why don’t they buy the other books too? (Because they don’t know about them; some of the buyers who have found the website do buy the others.) If they like 24 for 3, they’ll surely like the other titles. Or maybe they won’t like the book at all, and they’ll curse me, Jennie and Mr Lezard too for leading them up the garden path and robbing them blind. Nothing I can do about that except say, weakly, that we never set out to please everyone, just enough to keep this boat afloat.
The book that next needs some publicity oxygen is Eric Houston’s The White Room. 24 for 3 is bright and sharp but The White Room burns deeper, smoulders longer. If it doesn’t pick up some sort of cult following I’ll weep in frustration. A fuse needs to be lit.
A thing we need to face up to, now – I’d been keeping this out of my mind until post-Christmas, which it now is, just – is that whether there’s money or not, there have to be more books. That sounds like a threat. But it can’t just stop. (Well, it can, and there’d be an appealing perversity about that – going out on a high after we’ve only just arrived – but there’s also curiosity about what’s round the next corner. And new titles are being conceived; we’d like them to go to full term.)
PS – speaking into the void, but just in case there’s someone listening: a fine way to keep financially alive would be if some bigger publisher were to buy rights to publish one or more of the CBe titles mainstream, and get them to the readership we are not equipped to reach.