Okay, so I need your help. If you’ve read The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil you will have your own opinions of it, hopefully positive. You may even be able to make comparisons between my style and that of other writers. However, those who have not read it won’t know what to expect, and this is my problem.
In the past I’ve tried to give readers an idea what to expect by sharing the comparisons that other people made about the book. At book signings and readings people have pointed out similarities to Robert Rankin and Douglas Adams. I’m a huge fan of both these writers and I’m very flattered by the association. Other people have said it’s a bit like Terry Pratchett which, to be honest, is probably a bit too much as he sets the bar so high. Some people have even said that it sounds like the English comic absurdity of Tom Sharpe but I think this is from people who have read about it but not actually read the book. I’m very flattered by that possibility.
Those comparisons are on the comic fiction aspect but other parallels are with fantasy and sorcery writers. I’m now using the term urban fantasy as there is magic in my stories, admittedly much of it implied, but the stories are set in the contemporary world of England in the 21st Century. So the genres here are likened to Harry Potter and Dan Brown, although I don’t write children’s books and I don’t write about the supernatural in the way that Dan Brown does.
Based on this feedback I’ve pitched my marketing material at fans of these authors mentioning them, hopefully subtly enough, to give a hint of what readers will find. Sometimes I worry that readers won’t believe me though, as some of these comparisons are pretty staggering. I would tend not to believe a bloke down the pub who said that his small press published books are a bit like these luminaries.
So the phrase that grew up was that The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil is a bit like Harry Potter meets Men Behaving Badly. Men Behaving Badly because the characters in the book drink far too much dark rum, smoke too many cigarettes and indulge in the occasional Moroccan woodbine, actually more than occasional.
Now I’m in the process of moving all my books to a new publisher, a small press similar to my current publisher but in a position to allow me to concentrate on writing. So it’s an opportunity to make some changes in the marketing blurb.
I’m concerned that some of these comparisons are a little too strong, almost unbelievable. Others are a bit out of date or just not very well known. The Harry Potter connection was interesting because that series is now finished and readers might be looking for something new. But there are no broomsticks in my stories and no sparks flying from the ends of wands. In fact the Hidden Masters only contains a couple of events that are clearly supernatural so Harry Potter may not be that appropriate. Also some people don’t like Harry Potter because they say it’s derivative and unoriginal and stuff like that. However, my point is that Potter is popular and I’m only interested in comparisons that I can use to get my message across to new readers. So if you hate Harry Potter and can’t put down your vitriol then I probably don’t need your input. At the same time I’m wondering if the Men Behaving Badly connection is now a bit dated so should I stop using that?
So my request is this. If you have read The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil, and you enjoyed it, please tell me how I should be marketing it. What comparisons with other authors can I use to tell new readers what to expect? This naturally has to be from successful, popular, published authors but I can’t help that. Of course if you can think of a way to describe the book without comparing it to published works then that would be great. My new publisher is waiting for the marketing text and I can’t write it without your help.If you want to know what all the fuss is about here it is on my web site as my publisher doesn’t have a web site, (Yes I know!) this is an updated link as as things have moved on since this post was writtenIf you don’t want to wait for the new edition don’t bother with Amazon, they are listing it as out of print. It’s never out of print as it’s print on demand. It’s best to buy it from Blackwells here or order it via your local book shop on the ISBN 978-0-9515329-1-1
I think the comparison you have put is actually very good – I would say though that it could be more what happens when Harry Potters meets fear and loathing in las vegas with a smattering of men behaving badly and decides to explore this more deeply, with other likeminded individuals to save the world from imminent destruction happening in the Las Vegas of Englad aka a rather seedy West Coast Seaside Resort !
Dont know if that helps !
It's hard to find comparisons for something as beautifully weird as this, but the first book which sprang to mind, and this was before I read Katherine's post above, was, oddly enough, also with Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. It's nothing like it really, and yet … and yet. Add a dash of The Hobbit, a touch of the Illuminatus! trilogy, a sprinkle or two of Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint, and even a whisper of Iain Banks … Yes, I can see why I like it!
I think both of these comments are on the money. It's gonzo, but British gonzo. The Robert Anton Wilson comparison's good too. If someone pitched it to me as 'Fear and Loathing in Blackpool' I'd be all over it – but then I'm probably not your average reader. Hm…
There is a very successful, whimsically Welsh, comic detective novel called “The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth”. It's even a series of novels now. So howabout a change of title to “Fear and Loathing in Blackpool”? There may be copyright issues, but if the Aberystwyth chap could square it with Kundera's people, surely the same option is open to you?