Sales Figures

From one surreal moment to the next…

The trip was part family, part business. Melatonin did not work and for several days we had walked in an exhausted, dreamlike state through the shade of galleries and museums taking in old favourites and seeing strange new things, such as the National Portrait Gallery’s video loop of David Beckham, sleeping. He was artfully lit and shot to emphasise the musculature of his shoulders; the image, poised midway between soft porn and religious icon, drew a steady stream of female voyeurs who settled themselves on the bench provided and watched the whole thing through. Teenage school-boys on a field trip blundered in now and then:
“Think he’s really asleep, Matt?’
“Na. Can’t be, not with that effing light shining right in his face.”

Later, my editor and I sipped cappuccinos in a dark and fearsomely air-conditioned café with tanks full bubbling turquoise water set into the wall behind the bar. We made the awkward transition from small talk to sales figures:
“I think,” she said, “that Alphabet would sell much better if you were a man!”
“Some of your female readers will have been put off by the dark, edgy subject matter: it deals with violence against women, but from a man’s point of view.  Men, on the other hand, would love the book for the same reason, if they read it. But we just can’t get men to read books written by women. Our market research is telling us that they are very reluctant.”

All I can say (but I didn’t) is what a crying shame we didn’t think of this before the book came out! I could have had surgery! Or at the very least, assumed a male name, bound my breasts and donned some kind of disguise. Because these days,  writing the damn things just isn’t enough.