Forgive the chutzpah, if you will, but over the years I feel we’ve made a forte of our ability to spot promising debuts. (There are, of course, many other books that failed to catch our readers’ attention but they have been quietly swept under the carpet – which is the way with publishing in general.)
From the very first issue of newbooks the concept of creating a shop window for our featured books hasn’t fundamentally changed. By putting a sizable chunk of text in our pages, readers can sample before deciding which of our offerings to claim.
At our recent conference a voice from the floor opined that she ‘never bothered with the extracts’ as she could make up her own mind about her reading choices. I didn’t challenge that at the time, but I wish I’d had the presence of mind to mention Wilfred Price.
To give it its full title, The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals is one of our featured books in this issue. It is a debut by Wendy Jones which we also included in our Debuts supplement early this year. But as far as I’m aware there hasn’t been a big promotional campaign by the publisher or publicity tour by the author.
To be fair, we ourselves have only done what we would normally do with one of our featured titles. So how to explain the rapidity with which copies have been claimed? It has to be that our readers have read the extract and decided this is a book they really want to read. True there are two highly complimentary reviews on this very website but then that is no different to many of the other books we feature. I can come to no other explanation – ultimately, by putting that text on the pages of the magazine we have influenced - highly - our readers’ thinking.
Which is what makes this the best job in the world – helping bookaholics discover their next ‘fix’. If you haven’t yet read Wilfred, then it sounds like you need to add it to your list.