When my publisher suggested releasing an anthology of my short stories, I didn’t plan to do much promotion. In the UK, short story collections are notoriously difficult to sell. But when I thought about the unpaid time and effort she’d put into editing, and the money into another gorgeous cover, as well as the enthusiasm of my readers for a third book, I reconsidered. My short story collection, Becoming Someone, scheduled for publication on November 23rd, deserves as much chance as any other book. So I got creative.
Things began to relax a little when I pinned down the problem to my perfectionism, and the gap between my high-ranking professional aspirations, and my hobbyist resources and results. I reminded myself a new book is a cause for celebration; it’s not an exam.
But hosting that celebration entails decisions only I can make. One such was whether or not to offer prizes – and if so what – at the Facebook launch. From what I’ve gathered from cyberspace, these gigs are rather like a children’s party with virtual refreshments, presents and games. I’ve had ideas about the games, but received conflicting messages about prizes. A copy of my new book would be the obvious contender, except some advise against this as it might actually discourage those considering a purchase. So token gifts – like notebooks, bookmarks and mugs – might be more appropriate? But, if I want people to participate from anywhere in the world – which is partly the point of a virtual launch – on an equal footing, postage could cost more than the prize.
Then I had a better idea, a way of creating a play space in which all of us and none of us wins. A way for you to help me express my gratitude for the good luck that’s got me this far. For the support of my publisher, readers and book bloggers, for the freedom to spend my time doing what I love. For the happenchance of being born in an era and culture where girls were encouraged to read.
I want to use my Facebook event to support a reading charity; I’ve yet to decide on the fine details but it will be along the lines of the more participation the more money I’ll donate. No expectations on the partygoers to contribute, and I’ll set a ceiling amount so you needn’t worry about putting me in debt.
So what I’d like from you now is, first of all, to try to commit to dropping in on November 23rd; secondly, I’m after recommendations of charities that support reading anywhere in the world. It could be anything from books for children who don’t even have shoes to a literary service for adults who struggled with the education system first time round. Please share your thoughts.