It's all thanks to you, if you're reading this: Ghost Variations has reached its crowd-funding target in just 12 days. Currently support is running at 104 per cent and I can't quite believe my eyes. Yes! We're there! And faster than I ever believed possible.
You see, for as long as I've been writing novels, people have been saying to me: "Oh, er, you write about classical music? We don't think that's quite right for our list..." They most likely think there is no market, or that it's "elitist" (heaven help us), or... The completely brilliant thing about Unbound is that in taking on a book like Ghost Variations, nobody is going upon preconception alone. It's up to me - and you - and Ghost Variations itself - to prove that there is indeed a market, of its own kind. Having done so, we're ready to rock.
Too many of us still swallow a constantly parroted media fallacy that there's no interest in classical music and that concert halls are empty. As one of my characters in the book would say, "Nuff and stonsense!" More people than ever before (at least in Britain) are lapping up the treasures of art music; what has changed more noticeably is the expectation that its popularity must equal that of football or Coldplay or The Da Vinci Code if it's to be so much as admitted as "a market". I remember one eminent concert pianist grumbling about these preconceptions to me in an interview, remarking: "They say 'the audience doesn't want music on TV'. Well, I want music on TV. But nobody ever asked me!"
Why should everybody like the same music? Why should everybody want to read the same books? What a dull world we'd have if that were the case.
Since my first novel (Rites of Spring) came out ten years ago, the landscape of publishing has changed beyond recognition, and it's the companies that have embraced new technology that have come bobbing up to the surface while others, trying to hold back the tide, find themselves sunk. A lot of mid-list writers, though, felt somewhat washed up while the market polarised towards haute literary on the one hand and super-populist on the other. That's where a company like this one comes into it.
Now, I'm a self-confessed technotwit. I don't have the first clue how computers work. I don't know the jargon or the codes, beyond how to set up the most basic link. I think my generation was the last at school to use slide rules prior to the introduction of - gasp - the pocket calculator. But I'd like to think I know something with exciting potential when I see it, and the Internet, though it has its scary moments, must be the most exciting thing that's happened to human communication since the invention of the printing press. I've always believed we have to be open to its ideas and find ways to harness its power, making it work for us, not against us. For instance, I started a classical music blog (http://jessicamusic.blogspot.com) before blogging had become a "thing", back in 2004. I was messing around one day trying to discover what these fancy new things called blogs were, I expected it to be terribly complicated, and it wasn't, and before I knew what had happened I had one of my own, so it seemed a good idea to begin using it. It turned out to be one of the best things I could have done - but I had no idea at the time. I just got on with it and waited to see what happened.
Sometimes, then, if you see an idea that seems to hold vast new possibilities, even if you're not sure what exactly they will be, you have to grab them and run with them and see where they take you. That's why I sent Ghost Variations to Unbound, and why I'm so thrilled that they said yes.
This is one very big adventure - and I'm so pleased that you've agreed to be part of it. Please keep spreading the word. Tell your friends about Ghost Variations and how Unbound works; do a blogpost or pop something on Facebook or Twitter; every little helps with what used to be called "word of mouth".
The more support the book can gather, the better. Because I don't only want to sell copies. I want to prove to the world in general, and publishers in it, that there is a market for a novel involving classical music, even from someone who hasn't previously won the Booker Prize; and that there is not only interest in it, but enormous enthusiasm. Crowd-funding this book has brought me visible proof of that. I can't begin to tell you how encouraging that is.
Thanks for reading - and now it's time to get back to work. I'm off to 1933...
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