In the Royal Navy, there’s only one kind of facial hair allowed. British Tars are either clean shaven or they sport a beard, known in the service as a “full set.” The antipathy to the mustache is no doubt because of its predominance among the rival landlubber officer class (although it could’ve later been its association with a different kind of “sailor.”)
Book authors now fall into similar categories. There are those who do nothing online and those for whom each book must be accompanied by the full set.
Those who do nothing are usually writers who were already well-known before the web became so important. They don’t need to be online, so they aren’t. Or they’re too old to get into a new kind of writing. Me, I have the internet full set. Here’s what I’ve got going on already for my new book, which is out in two weeks in the UK:
First there’s the updated website, www.mattrees.net. The website is, of course, the equivalent of facial stubble. Everyone’s doing it, even those who don’t get around to growing a full set. Some of them are pretty rotten and look like they’d itch… You can tell that the writer only sports the stubble because he thinks he has to – a fashion necessity. He’d get rid of it in a moment if the fashion changed.
I’m very involved in the design of my site. I put lots of Extra Features in it. You can hear much of the music from MOZART’S LAST ARIA, my new book. (It’s a historical thriller in which Mozart’s sister tries to uncover the secrets of the great composer’s death.) I have a couple of brief essays about how I came to write the book; how I researched it; how I structured it to mirror my favorite Mozart piano sonata. A photo tour of all the real locations featured in the novel, and images of many of the real characters from the book.
Of course, I also paid for the thing.
On the site, you’ll also find the book video. The book video is the mustache of the authorial full-set. Everyone’s doing one these days, but they’re quite hard to get right. They often end up looking weak and thin. (Sorry if this facial hair analogy is going on a bit too long, but actually I think it works…) There are two videos in fact for this book – one two-minute version for short-attention-span types; and a five-minute director’s cut with a whole extra sequence. The music for the video is performed by Orit Wolf, a friend of mine who’s a concert pianist.
I dressed up as Mozart. I dressed my son up as Little Mozart. And of course I paid for it all, too.
Ah, but it’s not over yet. If you’ve been following the analogy, then you’ll recall that I have a mustache and stubble, so far. The full set must include a few further features and a lot of updating of current features. I have to get my blog designer to change all the “Matt’s Latest Book” stuff to reflect the new book. I have to load my video everywhere else I possibly can, like Amazon.com, for example.
I’ll post a reading sample on the website. I’ll podcast a section of the book read by me. I’m still planning to podcast sections of the book as read by Michael Caine, Richard Burton and Mick Jagger (well, ok, my impersonations of them reading MOZART’S LAST ARIA, but I figure I’ll be able to get some Stones fans to my site…)
With those podcasts, I’ll also be introducing the readings with a little chat from me about the book’s themes. Later in the year, when the book comes out in the US, I’ll be doing a “virtual book tour.”
As I’m doing this, I also have the manuscript of my next book, a novel about Caravaggio, to complete. My UK publisher is expecting that at the end of the month. Now, to get into character for that book, as it were, I decided to try to look a bit like Caravaggio. So I grew a real beard.
Maybe when I do publicity for that one, it’ll truly be the full set.