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Author friends have frequently commented on how important this process is to a book's chances of getting anywhere. You can advertise and promote a book to death, but it needs to be there in front of people's eyeballs. Sure, your book's great, your blurb is catchy and your cover looks wonderful. But if it's not in the bookstores, nobody will ever see it. The sales team can define whether a book lives or dies and, all too often, new authors and those consigned to the 'mid list' (ie: they do quite well, but never quite as well as JK Rowling) are introduced later on in the sales team's pitch and are neglected. Which means they don't get on display, or are put in that dusty corner at the back, while some glitzy piece of schlock by a witless semi-celebrity gets front of store billing. It's no wonder authors get bitter.
So the chance to actually present to a sales team - to share what the book's about, what made you do it, why you think it will sell and who it'll appeal to - is a rare and wonderful privilege and opportunity. I took it gratefully, gave my chat and answered questions, shook hands and exchanged smiles. Now it's up to them.
Saturday will see the 'official launch' of the book on the first night of TwingeDXB - the first Dubai Urban Arts Festival. I'll be talking a bit about what makes Olives 'tick' and doing a reading from the book. I'll be helped in this by Irish poet and Man of Mystery Frank Dullaghan, who'll be reading Gerald Lynch for me. Lynch, the somewhat brutally inclined spy in Olives, is from Northern Ireland and while I can usually mug up a reasonable 'Norn Oirish' accent for a phrase or two, I just don't have the consistency to keep it up through dialogue. Frank does the twisted vowels brilliantly.
You can find out more about TwingeDXB, including the link for live streaming if you live outside the UAE here on the official TwingeDXB website. Other highlights of the 'Praise for Prose' evening on Saturday include Frank reading from his own work, the second birthday bash for the Twitter Book Club, a talk from Emirati author Sultan Darmaki and a display by free book initiative blog, The Book Shelter.
Copies of Olives will be on sale (Jashanmals is sponsoring the evening) and I'll happily sign them, although I do warn you that the rarity value of an unsigned copy is currently considerable.
TwingeDXB goes on all week, by the way, it's not just one night. There are events spanning poetry, music, comedy and more - the website's well worth checking out.