In the end, a record forty people turned up, and seventeen copies of the book were sold (as well as a few other titles) - a gauntlet for future launches has very much been laid down. Other lessons I will take from this experience (besides the 'hold events in Scarborough' one) are as follows: 1) that it is possible to produce two books in one month... a bit stressful, yes, but doable, and 2) that you shouldn't leave books lying around unsupervised... unbelievably, while the reading was on, some wise guy slipped copies of both Lonely Destiny and Encore into their bag, in what I believe is known as the 'five finger discount'. I have mixed feelings about this, but on the whole I think I'm pleased to have produced objects that induce such desire for ownership that people will break the law to possess them. Now I know how Steve Jobs must have felt when the first iPod was shoplifted.
I should probably say a few words on how the book came about. In fact, Stone Venus pre-dates most of the other recent projects, starting in early September 2010 when the publishing was very much a hobby, and I had no intention of pursuing it seriously... things have moved fast! I had known Jo for a few years, she is part of what might one day be called the 'Scarborough set', including the likes of Felix Hodcroft and Nigel Gerrans, and a few others who I hope to get under the VP umbrella eventually. She had just finished a Masters degree in Creative Writing, at Newcastle University, focusing mostly on poetry, and had produced a vast portfolio of poems - which I was only too happy to look through and edit. After a bit of collaboration (which we managed despite Jo spending the entire winter in Dubai) we had soon trimmed the manuscript down to a manageable thirty-eight poems; Jo was even kind enough to let me order the poems, which is one of my favourite parts of the poetry publishing process.
In fact the whole process went extremely smoothly - even the cover design was worked out in the end, though with Jo being a professional artist by day, that part of the project did provide the most friction. In fact Venus has set a new record for different versions of the cover, too... there were eight in total, the process finally ending with Jo getting pretty much what she wanted in the first place. For the record, my favourite was a couple of editions previously - you can see it on the right. Not bad eh?
Talking of pictorial content, it would be a poor launch post indeed if I didn't at this point produce a series of photographs documenting the launch... and there's another attempt at capturing poetry on video, though this one breaks additional records for poor quality. I will definitely be investing the profits from July (if indeed there are any) on a mid-range video camera... suggestions for which model to go for should be forwarded in the usual manner. Enjoy!
|I noticed this welcome sight whilst getting a lift to the venue. Why don't you have VP poetry books in your back seat pockets?|
|Here we can see a small portion of the massive crowd... I now look at this and try to spot the thief. I think that might be him at the back, in the black-and-white striped shirt, with the calico sack labelled 'swag'.|
|Rosie Larner reads her favourite poem from the collection, 'Exit Stage Left'.|
|Felix Hodcroft tackles 'Minotaur', in his usual dark and dramatic style... cracking stuff.|