Is Scratching Catching?

One of the perks of having a book published is that you get to go to the annual author party. Which is how the Bugman and I found ourselves one warm Indian summer evening on a Bloomsbury square beside a marquee amidst a very well dressed crowd trying not to peer too obviously at the identifying badges that everyone wore. Our badges each pronounced ‘author’ next to our names so the Bugman struck up a conversation with a tallish, likeable chap who was instantly fascinated (no, really) by the Bugman’s explanation that we had written an insect book.

“Oh, not that lovely big one on butterflies?” the man exclaimed and we had to shake our heads ruefully and reply that, er.. no, our insect book was in fact practically the complete opposite of the one he’d described.

“Ah,” he continued with a twinkle, “then it must be The Little Book of Nits!” We both nodded shyly, expecting the conversation to end swiftly. On the contrary, our new acquaintance glittered with enthusiasm – according to his badge he worked in sales and at their recent conference when the new titles were presented he reported that a noisy ripple of interest greeted the announcement that the Little Book of Nits would be published. This gratifying excitement was then followed by an involuntary itch that went round the room like a Mexican wave and everybody found they needed to have a little scratch.

In the book trade, word of mouth is supposed to be the best kind of marketing, but a communal itch that needs scratching? Now, you can’t ask for more than that!   

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