I'm often told by my lovely publishers that I'm not as enthusiastic about self-publicity as I should be. This is because I've always thought that authors should not have to speak for books. If books are beautiful enough, they should speak for themselves. Authors are really the behind-the-scenes people; the wizards pulling the curtains for the Land of Oz that is literature.
In saying that, it's easy to understand that people like to get to know the names behind the titles. I confess to following the blog of Justine Picardie, who seems to be as much of a lovely person as she is a great writer. And if Hemingway were alive and he had time to pen one, between fishing in Key West, punching out bestsellers and bedding beautiful women, I'd been following him too! I've also been slightly awed when I've had the good fortune to meet writers such as Jan Morris, Frederick Forsyth, Jeffrey Archer, AA Gill, Herbert Ypma, and Bill Bryson. (I interviewed the latter in his South Kensington flat: when I arrived at the open front door he was derriere-up, cleaning the bath. I've always liked an multi-tasking author!) Another writer friend told me she was similarly open-mouthed when she met J.D. Salinger. (Her mother neglected to tell her she'd been having a weekly luncheon with his wife for 20 years.) For the most part, authors adore meeting other authors – especially if The Other Author is stupendously famous and rolling in royalty cheques. (That's when we ask what their secret is.) Authors also adore seeing good books achieve success, even when those books belong to publishing houses that may be their competitors. The publishing world is not a hockey game. It is actually rather civilised. Why is why I've always liked it. (And hated those who play dirty within it.)
The Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) are the Oscars of publishing in Australia. It's where
a panel of long-time booksellers and publishers judge and nominate their favourite books each year. I always take a peek at what's nominated, because it's always intriguing to see which books are pricking up people's ears. It's also intriguing to see which books are in the Best Illustrated Book category, as these books are often the most beautifully designed.
This year, it was a huge surprise to receive an email from my former publisher, Mary Small of Pan Macmillan/Plum letting me know that my book Paris: A Guide to the City's Creative Heart has been nominated. It's the first big industry award I've ever been nominated for, after 6 years and 18 books, so I was both touched and thrilled to hear the news. In fact, just as when my friend met J.D. Salinger, I was quite speechless with shock! The winners are announced at the Sydney Writer's Festival next week, when we're in New York. But I don't mind if I don't win. It's just lovely to be considered...
Here are some of the other nominees – and a link to the full PDF here. And here are some of the pages from Paris: A Guide to the City's Creative Heart. Oh – and if, like me, you love illustrated coffee-table books, then I'd like to let you know that I'm working on a gorgeous New York book this month, and then a beautiful new Paris book in June. Will give more details here in coming weeks.
Best of luck to all those nominated for the ABIA Awards! I'm really thrilled for all those authors.