As you know, I have started a podcast called Authors Unedited.
I have done so because the last year or so has been quite a journey through the world of literature for me, and it’s made me want to do more to help others.
For a bit of context, my partner, Claire Askew, has gone from author with a publishing contract to an award-winning debut novelist with a second book already on the shelves. I have watched her put sweat and tears into her third, and I have had the pleasure of tossing around ideas with her for the fourth (thankfully she mainly ignores my suggestions, so don’t worry, aliens aren’t going to abduct Edinburgh’s favourite Detective Inspector).
I have, mainly, been by her side throughout it all, and so I have seen the great and the good of literature in authors’ yurts, I have photographed her signing more books than I knew was possible, and I even had a pee next to Ian Rankin whilst I was clutching in my (other) hand a copy of The Scotsman which had a review of Claire’s first book saying the aforementioned author should watch out as there is a new kid on the block. I was most recently seen hysterically weeping as she picked up the Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Debut Prize for All the Hidden Truths in Stirling.
All of this has been brilliant, beyond words. Nothing except the birth of my niece (so far, I have an impending nephew!) has ever made me cry with such hysterical joy as seeing Claire pick up that award.
I have been incredibly lucky to have had these adventures, to see behind the curtain, and to be welcomed by the writing community as ‘plus one’ or ‘Instagram boyfriend’, sometimes even ‘writer’ (Claire introduces me as such, although I have not earned it as of it — in my eyes) — they are names that I genuinely revel in. I have also been lucky enough to meet fantastic authors, like Ever Dundas, Colin McGuire, Doug Johnson, and so many more who I now consider friends.
To note — Claire has been infinitely considerate in making sure the travel isn’t too much for me around my work, that I am enjoying myself, and so on. It hasn’t been too much, I’ve loved it. From getting the train to Norwich to Noirwich, to driving through the fog and rain to get to Moffat for an author event straight after work, it’s all been the greatest adventure.
The thing I have noticed though is that everything is so dependent on your network.
I have spent over half a decade as a spoken word promoter, and performer, and I have done my research in my time. I have been to a lot of nights, seen a lot of performers, and had the delight of hosting some of the best around.
Of course, I haven’t seen it all, but I have given it my best. I tried to become the network because I believe that those writers and performers should focus on writing and performing, not on having to hustle for a gig.
However, it’s not the case for everyone. I have met promoters who want people to audition (for unpaid gigs), to have done X amount of previous gigs (can’t gig until you’ve gigged more…), and some I’ve met even want to charge performers for the opportunity to perform (pay to play) — and I’m not just talking about the mass open mic nights that some cities run. I’ve seen it all and I have seen amazing writers and performers give up because it’s too much of a slog and they can’t keep committing their whole life to something with no return. Personally, I stepped back from gigging when I moved from London to Edinburgh, and I probably won’t return (unless asked…!).
All of this is why the night I run, Listen Softly, has always aimed to give people a chance. The quiet ones, the loud ones, the ones that stutter, and the ones who struggle. I want them all! I want to hear their words and amplify their voice by arranging high quality nights that lots of folk enjoy coming to.
That is why I wanted to start my podcast.
I know that having a publicist, someone who can coordinate personal appearances, festival slots, and in-store signings, is a privilege not a right that every author has. So, I hope that in some way, working with a mix of experienced authors, and those who are on their first tentative footsteps on the path to literary greatness, will allow me to contribute to the expansion of people’s horizons when it comes to consuming books.
We must value our artists. I feel that it is the duty of all of us to celebrate what we love.
Many writers rely on reviews, ratings, on having their books actually bought by people, to be able to continue their career with any gusto. Whether it’s a nice tweet, a Goodreads or amazon rating/review, or heading to your local independent bookshop to buy their book — it all contributes. They also need you to go out and see them at events, to show festivals that they have fans, to show bookshops that it’s worth staying open to host that writer. Celebrate them!
I will take the same approach to the podcast as I do to the live literature events. I will seek out talent and share it, and I do hope that you enjoy it.