Sunday, January 13, 2013
I can’t help reflecting on how many “best-selling” authors there are out there. Perhaps the word “best” is another of those English words that is losing its meaning. Perhaps, in the context of selling books, it now means “I sold a book once”. This is the kind of promotional hyperbole that I find irritating. Tim Minchin – yes, Tim Minchin again – I wish I were as clever and witty as Tim Minchin – watch a Tim Minchin DVD... Sorry, I lost my train of thought there for a second. Tim Minchin told a story in one of his shows about when he first performed in New York. (Forgive me if I don’t get the details and wording exactly right.) He was staying in a hotel somewhere in New York and was feeling a little hungry. He decided that he would go downstairs, wander the streets for a while – perhaps he would find a deli nearby. He stepped out of the lobby onto the street, and there, across the road, was The Very Best Delicatessen in the World. He knew it was the best, because the sign told him so. “Well,” says Tim to his audience, “what are the odds of that! I step out into the street and there it is: the best deli in the world! Imagine the market research it must have taken to verify that!”
I feel a little that way when I look at the people I am following on Twitter. What are the odds! He is the best-selling author of... Oh but wait, she is the best-selling author of... And he is..., and they are... That poodle is the best-selling author of...
And so it is confirmed for me. Clearly I am doing something wrong. Obviously it is easy to sell books. The world is full of best-selling authors, while I... well, I am only a “slightly better-selling” and “mostly worse-selling” author than most. No superlatives for me. The best I can manage are a few (sometimes favourable, sometimes unfavourable) comparatives.
Then I comfort myself. I am, after all, the best-selling author in this room! I have sold more copies of Maybe they’ll remember me than anyone in several universes.
More words of wisdom from the best-selling author of ...