Friday, July 14, 2006

The Ben Elton campaign

There I was, sipping coffee and watching toast burn, when I suddenly realised how neat it would be to get a copy of Hal Spacejock into Ben Elton's hands. It's a fun book with lots of sly gags, and Ben Elton is a very funny guy. Perfect match.

Okay, so it's not much of a quest, but it's more worthy than three plodding volumes about a farmboy seeking the doohicky of power to defeat the evil Lord of Kardbod.

Now, Western Australia is a spectacularly beautiful state, and as luck would have it Ben Elton lives here part of each year. In case you live somewhere even more remote than Perth (like, Jupiter) Ben Elton is the manic genius behind the best three series of Black Adder, a number of bestselling novels and numerous stage and TV shows.

First obstacle: I don't know Mr Elton.

Plan #1: Dress up in a suit, pin a 'Ben Elton's Driver' badge to my lapel, and wander around Fremantle looking thoroughly lost. Some kind soul is sure to give me directions ('He's in London, ya twit') and then I'd be set.

Plan #2: Walk into the Fremantle branch of Dymocks Booksellers and offer to buy their entire stock of Ben Elton books ... if Mr Elton signs them. No walking around in suits, either. Bonus.

Plan #3: Get arrested for being drunk and disorderly, and name Ben Elton as a witness. Problem is, I don't drink and I'm not disorderly.

Plan #4: Find out where he lives (biggest house in Freo, natch) and heave a couple of books over the wall. Only thing is, if the attack dogs don't get them, the armed guards probably will.

To be honest that all sounds like a load of trouble, and in more ways than one. Inspiration was slipping away until I read an article in this morning's paper: Ben Elton's Get a Grip will be at the Perth Concert Hall, Sunday 23 July, Monday 24 July and Sunday 6 August.

Cool. More options:

Plan 1: Buy a front row seat and bide my time. At the right moment, leap up and yell 'read this, Ben!' and hurl a copy of Hal Spacejock onto the stage.

For: It'd certainly get his attention.

Against: And everyone else's, including security. Plus it might actually hit him, and Hal is a hefty book.

Plan 2: Hang around the stage entrance with a large box of chocolates. Nestled (!) under the top row, a copy of Hal Spacejock.

For: It might actually work.

Against: He might eat the book and read the chocolates.

Once again it sounds like a lot of trouble, involving police, restraining orders and lengthy jail terms. I know all publicity is good publicity, but good for whom? I'm not having my publisher coining it while my royalties pay to have Mr Elton's stomach pumped.

So why not try something a bit more normal and post a book c/o his agent?

For: It's not only easy, it's legal.

Against: I hear his agent doesn't use firewood to warm his house.

Okay, the toast has cooled and so has my enthusiasm. The second cup of coffee has gone the way of the first, I have 300+ pages of red-penned manuscript to transfer into the original Hal Spacejock 3 file and nothing is getting done while I indulge in these flights of fancy. Suddenly I remember an important fact: Authors write, publicists publicise. FACP employs a dedicated professional publicist, an expert at getting media attention.

Time to fire off an email ;-)

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Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


M@ said...

Honestly -- nonsense. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, the early bird gets the worm, and the strident stalker gets his book into Ben Elton's hands.

I say go for it.

Anonymous said...

Recently joined Aust Writer Online, congratulations Simon - tenacious guy. Quick perusal of your amusing blog, will look into your book. Though i don't read too much sci fi, who can resist Pratchett, Hitchhikers etc? Who could resist your humour?

Simon Haynes said...

Who could resist your humour?

So far, about 99.9996% of the Australian population ;-)

It takes a long time and several books to generate a fan base. Publishers and booksellers don't usually give authors enough of either.

It also means writing books people want to read, and that's the only part I can have much influence on.

Adam said...

I personally like plan 1. Just for the shocked expression on Ben Elton's face as a sci fi novel hurtles past him. Honestly how many people are lucky enough to have fans throw books at them? I say go for it. Then perhaps try the legal route you speak of.

Simon Haynes said...

Do they let you wear T-shirts to court? I've got these Hal Spacejock ones I did up, but I don't know if the pics are big enough for the nightly news cameras to pick up.