The Reluctant Bestseller
Please welcome Guest Blogger and Author Colin Falconer to Write It Forward.
A few years ago I inadvertently had a huge bestseller in Australia. The number one book at the time was something called the Da Vinci Code – or something like that. It became a publishing phenomenon and kept me off the number one spot in Australia. I never felt strongly about Brown’s book one way or the other, but I found his timing unforgivable.
Well, sort of. Every author wants a bestseller; but the book everyone wanted to read was the book I had never wanted anyone to read. I wrote The Naked Husband for myself initially; then I turned it into a novel to try and make sense of the events I was writing about, because using novels to make sense of life is what novelists do. It’s the book that goes into a writer’s drawer, never to be seen again. A bloodletting.
Because no one was ever going to read it, I turned my inner censor off. I rented a caravan near the beach, holed up with bourbon and microwave meals and wrote a hundred thousand words in ten days. I wrote what I damned well pleased, as near as candid as a book is ever going to get from me. Then I edited it back to 50,000 with a novelist’s eye for structure.
I only showed it to one other person, the person in the book named Anna. We worked in the same industry and she urged me to publish. “Women – even some men – are hanging to read a book like this,” she said. “You have to do it.”
My agent said the same thing.
I didn’t sleep for three days. This book was way too close to home. Was I crossing a line or was I building a touchstone? In the end I believe I did both, so there will always be a sense of both regret and accomplishment around it, pride and doubt jostling in equal measure.
There was an auction. Four of the six major houses in Australia went after it. The winner of the auction marketed the hell out of it. And guess what? It sold in six packs.
I still – like last week, eight years after pub date – get emails like this:
It seems so strange that the feelings I thought were only mine should be laid out raw in front of me, as though you climbed into me and dragged them out …
Or this one:
… what I’ve loved about your book – and for this reason have read certain passages many times – is its ability to capture the true heart of what goes on in this situation.
I’ve been so appreciative to know that Mark too feels the craziness I feel.
In a weird way it’s been helpful …
From a guy in Holland:
… my personal situation is similar to yours and I could hear myself speaking at moments …
When my New York agent (a different agent, but just a brilliant woman who agented massive names in the business) read the book she wrote and thanked me for giving her such a fantastic book to read and represent.
Now that doesn’t happen very often.
But she couldn’t sell it. Over the next months her emails to me became increasingly dejected.
A couple of months later, when we had lunch in NY, she told me she was depressed and saddened by the current state of the industry. “I cannot understand why they all rejected it. They all say American women are different and won’t relate.”
She thought New York publishing had become moribund.
So it’s only now that I will finally discover if Australian women are that much different from their counterparts in the US and the UK. If not, then it might possibly mean that the gatekeepers have grown so out of touch with their readers that what they have been gatekeeping is their own prejudice.
The cultural divides between Australia and the US and the UK does not seem to me that steep. Don’t you have divorce, adultery or suicide in your country?
But maybe they were right. After all, major publishers have never made an error in judgment before – have they?
The Naked Husband is currently available exclusively at Barnes and Noble Nook Books. It will be released on all other platforms and in print on 1 November.
Posted on October 4, 2012, in Cool Gus Publishing, Guest Blogger and tagged Australia, Barnes & Noble, Colin Falconer, Da Vinci Code, Nook, Publishing, The Naked Husband. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.