Archive for September, 2012

So there it is  – large as life – my first novel up on Amazon, available for pre-order (only if you’re very keen as it’s not out till next July). Its a great feeling – pride and excitement with a bit of apprehension thrown in. I keep gazing at it – I’d probably stroke it, if I could. Now for the sequel!



I thought that a line could be drawn for the moment re: sock puppetry but the debate continues. The many and various discussions had left me, as I have mentioned in an earlier post, a little disillusioned and a tiny bit depressed. I had not realised that the writing world had people in it who would stoop so low in order to sell their work. Probably naive of me, I suppose  – dishonourable behaviour seems to have infiltrated every other walk of life – and my other profession – academia – is no different. But still, somehow it always manages to take me by surprise. Now I am a little bit apprehensive about what is to come,particularly in relation to online exposure (assuming I get some).

Having said all that, I am reassured by the reaction by many in the writing community – particularly crime writers – who, for the most part, have condemned the practices discussed. Those I have met over the years have always seemed to me to be a friendly and inclusive crowd and I am still looking forward to joining their ranks when my book comes out next year. But that said, given recent events, I am wondering how rife sock puppetry is and how concerned I should be. Watch this space!

There have been more sock puppetry accusations and at least one admission and apology. Statements have been issued by 50 writers  ( and the CWA ( condemning the practice. Which, I think, probably should bring things to some kind of a close, for now anyway. Thanks to all those who have investigated this – e.g David Hewson, Mark Billingham and Jeremy Duns. It needed to be done. Now maybe we can all get back to actually writing.

NB For those who are too young to know (you lucky people) Lamb Chop was a 1970s sock puppet of the hosiery variety pictured here with Shari Lewis’ hand up his (or maybe her) behind. Used to be on before Dr Who, as I recall. Those were the days.

I had always thought of sock puppetry as involving nothing more controversial than sticking your hand up a piece of spare hosiery and making it talk in a stupid voice. How wrong can you be?

The term is now used to describe a number of different and in some cases rather questionable practices in relation to writers publicising their work. These include reviewing one’s own book under a pseudonym – presumably raving about it in a rather sad effort to get people to buy it. More troubling is the related activity of reviewing others people’s work and essentially slagging it off, to use a technical term, in an even sadder and more desperate attempt to prevent their sales.

Some authors apparently go on various forums, again under a false name, in order to get people talking about their work. This is known as ‘creating a buzz’.

There are also rumours that accounts have been set up in the name of rival authors in an effort to discredit them by making controversial comments etc.

How widespread this practice is I am not in a position to say but it leaves me, as a new author about to begin publicising my first novel, feeling rather disillusioned. My main aim as a writer is to produce something that people will enjoy reading and therefore be persuaded to buy my books. This whole process is hard enough without having to worry about what others are doing to promote their work. Frankly I don’t know how they find the time! I’d rather spend mine actually writing and engaging in genuine promotion.

So I will say this. I will be keeping my hands out of the hosiery and publicising my work the rather more straight forward way – by telling people about it whenever they are kind enough to listen. Maybe I won’t create such a ‘buzz’ but, whatever I do manage, will at least be honest. And that is better than being a sock puppet any day.