It would be easy to think that my only job as the author of The Wines of Piemonte would be to research and, well, write the book. But even a few, if very helpful, exchanges with others published in the Classic Wine Library quickly disabused me of this. First, by chance, I met a very senior author who was complaining that this publishing house does not give the author an advance. It is best to be forewarned! As a result, one task is to work out how one is going to finance the research. A full-time job helps a lot – but reduces the amount of time you have for the project. For free-lancers, the great majority of wine writers, this can mean a big pay cut for a year or two while you write the book, money you are unlikely to recover. No one makes money from wine books (unless your name is Hugh or Jancis).
Second, you quickly discover that while the publishing house will produce a professionally-edited, designed and printed book for you, you need to find ways of promoting it. To be fair, you have to outline a marketing plan in the book proposal you had to write to get accepted in the first place. So the seeds of it should be in your proposal. But promoting the book is a big challenge those of us whose work up to now has been somewhat hidden. In my MW studies days, I had zero hours to promote my own website so it is not as well known as it might have been. Similarly, although I am one of a team of only two who have written the vast majority of the WSET’s brand-new Diploma in Wine study guide – running to hundreds of thousands of words – nobody out there in the world of wine writing will know that. And the Diploma has to be written in as objective a manner as possible. All very different from being a wine journalist or commentator and creating a public profile.
As a result, much of this week has been taken up with an initial task of emailing all my contacts who might conceivably be interested in the book — just to let them know that there will be a book in due course! If you are reading this blog post, you probably received one of those emails and thank you for reading thus far. Do subscribe, so that you get every up and down of the ride! And, just as important, tell your friends, colleagues and anybody else you can think of about this book! It needs as many friends as we can muster.