Only an Englishman would write about pubs in a book about Brazil

Anyone who does anything creative is always interested in seeing what others think about their work. Not just the supportive comments from friends and family, but the online reviews and comments from those in the media – and just regular readers. I’ve got musician friends and I know that they are just as interested in how people react to songs as I am when I publish a new book.

Reality Check: Life in Brazil through the eyes of a foreigner [Kindle Edition]

I have been really delighted with the reaction to the Reality Check book. There has been some good press coverage, many journalists are looking at the book now because they have expressed an interest, and all the reviews on Amazon itself are 5 or 4 star. It all looks good. And knowing that it has been spending some time in the number one slot has also helped. To see that it’s the best-selling book in English on the subject of Brazil is quite something.

But one review on the Amazon UK site really stood out for me. It’s by someone named Socrates – I don’t know who Socrates is and what country he is from, but he has clearly read quite a few books about Brazil as he references them in the review. He wrote an interesting comment on the book and how it has a certain ‘charm’ though:

“Any faults with the book are part of its charm. It’s does feel like a sketch for a longer book, but at the same time this is a great example of how self-e-publishing means a book like this can get on virtual shelves without an advance from a publishing house. It is also very fresh. Many of the issues discussed, like the June 2013 protests, are still news. Also Mark’s guide to bars and drinks is something maybe only an Englishman would dedicate a chapter to in such a brief guide, however as someone that also lived in London for much of my adult life I found this very useful and charming.”

I like this comment. The reviewer has noticed that maybe there are some quirks in the book. It’s more focused on the reality of my own induction into Brazil rather than some laborious run through the last 1,000 years of history, or a detailed analysis of the work visa application process.

I think there is plenty of useful information in the book and it really does include stuff on visas and going to the pub – because as a Brit moving to Brazil, these were both topics that fascinated me.

The idea of it as a sketch for a bigger book is interesting though. I have published big fat books with regular publishers and I deliberately wanted to avoid that experience in this case. As the review mentions, I really did manage to keep some of the comment right up to date – making some final edits just before the publication button was pushed. But it is a full-length book that feels short – it can be read pretty fast because it is punchy and direct, but it would be almost 200 pages if it were a regular paperback so there is some meat on the bones.

I felt that the personal nature of this book and my desire to release it globally as soon as I possibly could meant that it had to be released using Amazon. But it is doing well. There will be a lot on attention to Brazil in the next couple of years so if a big publishing house came to me now and suggested I add some additional content so they can release it as an airport paperback then I wouldn’t refuse – how could I?

But for the moment, I’m already working on a new book anyway. All my writing projects stretched into the future are exploring how work is changing – with the Brazil one fitting into that agenda just by exploring the difficulties of moving across the world and trying to slot in.

It was never meant to just be a sketch, but maybe it could be a stepping stone to a much more detailed analysis of Brazil? Maybe that’s an idea for 2014…

Reality Check

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