With the delivery of my tenth outing for Bryant & May, ‘The Invisible Code’, I’ve reached the end of my current publishing contract, and indeed all of my contracts until somebody, somewhere picks up some of my new books. They’re written – all I need is the publisher’s nod. That’s easier said than done in these trying times, although the surprise return of the hardback is apparently down to its new acceptability as a comparatively inexpensive gift.
Bryant & May must look like a dicey proposition to anyone – a ten year-old series that didn’t get picked up for TV, a series that sells to those in the know and gets great upmarket reviews, but which is invisible to Daily Mail readers and not popular with the swathes of the general public who like supermarket thrillers. The oddest insult/compliment I was paid was from a colleague’s wife who said; ‘I didn’t get on with Bryant & May, which is funny because I’ll usually read just any old thing.’
So, how do I convince the lip-movers to come on board? Perhaps I could suggest some marketing ideas to them. How about; ‘If you love Jo Nesbo, and you obviously do because I’m sitting in a departure lounge and every single person around me is reading the same goddamned book, why not try Bryant & May?’
Or ‘Love spending a lot of time with old people? You’ll love this!’
Or ‘If you love Sophie Hannah, stay away from my books or I’ll kill you.’?
Or ‘Choose a Bryant & May novel. It’s just like WH Smith without the cheap Galaxy bar’.*
Or ‘No Brighton coppers or dead Eastern European call girls were harmed in the making of this novel.’
Or ‘Bryant & May – now available with extensive notes and explanations for the easily confused.’
Or ‘Bryant & May – for when any old book just won’t do.’
All suggestions gratefully accepted.
*New service; explanatory notes for overseas readers. Station chainstore WH Smith makes its counter staff flog books by forcing cheap, paving stone-sized chocolate bars onto customers.
PS Keith Page’s drawing features Arthur Bryant’s bookshelf.