Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Introducing an outstanding new voice in fantasy fiction"

Many visitors to ::Acquired Taste will be seasoned readers of fantasy, and thus keen to read "an outstanding new voice". Even more so, perhaps, when they learn that the book in question is "an exquisitely written tale of loyalty and treachery, heroism and cowardice, homeland and exile, set in a brilliantly imagined and utterly spellbinding world". Hey, who wouldn't to read that?

Well, hang on a sec... there's a catch. For the "new voice" in question is none other than...Tim Stretton, author of The Dog of the North. And you all had that on your must-buy list anyway--didn't you? Even worse, the literary judgement quoted is hardly objective; it comes from the Macmillan New Writing site and is lifted from the blurb. It hardly qualifies as objective opinion.

And yet... there is an art to writing blurb (beyond getting people to buy the book, which is a given, and which the MNW piece does very well). Good blurb stops short of hyperbole, although a little exaggeration can be winked at. It takes elements which are present in the text, polishes them, and shoots them in a flattering light. The elements the publisher chooses to display in the blurb are significant. And in the case of The Dog of the North, Macmillan have chosen to emphasise my authorial voice--ironically, the very thing which has proved the biggest obstacle for other publishers. But Macmillan are right: the single most distinctive feature of my writing is the authorial voice, and if the book is any sort of success the voice will probably be the main factor.

Lest I be accused of over-promoting my own work (surely a permissible peccancy on my own blog, in any event), I should also note that if you dislike The Dog of the North, it will also, I suspect, be for reasons of voice. The more distinctive a feature in a work of fiction, the harder it is to overlook it if it isn't to your taste.

David Isaak has mentioned elsewhere that the sole unifying feature of the MNW range is "most of them are a little bent, just the teensiest bit outside the standard categories". I think that's right, and what's 'bent' in my work is the coolness and narrative distance I use to tell the story. I'm pleased with the plotting in The Dog of the North, but it's not what makes it an MNW novel.

From July 4th, you will be able to form your own judgement. In the meantime, I can give thanks for having a publicity department which appears to understand the book.

* * *

Bonus marketing quiz - kudos to the reader who can tell me which author has written, according to their publisher,
a sexy and irresistible novel to launch a major new fiction brand

Additional credit will be awarded to anyone who can explain what a "fiction brand" is, and how it differs from a "writer".


mattfwcurran.com Web Admin said...

Hi Tim

That's a damn fine blurb, I must say.

(I love writing blurbs - I wrote the blurb for The Secret War and Will Atkins based Horde of Mhorrer's on the blurb I did for my website. Despite the trap of crossing into hyperbole, there's something fun about doing a "trailer" for your own book.)

Can't wait 'til Dog of the North hits the shelves. What plans do you have for a book launch?


Tim Stretton said...

Yes, blurbs are fun! I wrote my own for my self-pubbed stuff. It's a good way of encapsulating what your story is "about".

At the moment we're looking at a launch in Waterstone's Chichester, possibly with subsidiary events in Portsmouth and Brighton (where there's a more receptive fantasy audience) and perhaps an event at Goldsboro's.

mattfwcurran.com Web Admin said...


Are you going to the BFS convention in Nottingham this September?


Tim Stretton said...

I'm thinking about it. I'm not a conventions-hound but I can see there might be marketing advantages. Do you recommend it?

David Isaak said...

Don't knock hyperbole--it's the most important thing in the universe.

Unknown said...

I can't restrain myself any longer:

Katie Price! Katie Price! No 1 on the Amazon sales ranking! I am a lowly 50,000.

Not that I've been checking.

Tim Stretton said...

Aliya, you win the prize! Your complimentary package of Kudos will be in the post shortly. To allow the more effective administration of your prize, please send £20 and--for validation purposes--your full bank details.

Katie Price is indeed the 'major new fiction brand'. And the difference between a fiction brand and a writer is that the former doesn't have to have written--or indeed read--the fiction in question.

mattfwcurran.com Web Admin said...


The BFS event is an odd thing in terms of genre conventions as it is far from conventional. The ratio of fans to authors is about 3:1 in the authors' favour - so it means you probably won't persuade many to buy your book, but it's a valuable place to get your name known within fantasy-writing circles.
I went in 2006, with Conor Cordoroy, and apart from the set-up being a little cliquey, it was good fun.
Tell me if you're going, and I'll pop down from Sheffield for the Saturday.