Five of us go marketing: my agent, Tracy, who gets to come up in the lift with Ewan McGregor - "perfect hair" she reports - but he's going on up to the Fifth Floor, and we're stepping out on the fourth floor to see the Simon and Schuster folk. I'm wearing pink crocs, and all the marketing people comment: "oh, you're wearing those shoes". Tracy says she and Ewan didn't exchange a word in the lift, but if I'd been there we could have talked about my shoes: he'd have said, "oh, you're wearing those shoes". I tell them that the whole of Israel is wearing crocs, and one of the marketing people says, "so is everybody in Wales".
Tracy's from Canada and works for the Wylie Agency. Andrew Wylie has a fierce agenting reputation - he's nicknamed the Jackal - he's ginger, and looks small and feral. Tracy has dark chestnut hair, and wears charcoal trouser suits, to work anyhow. She says stuff like, "ok, I'll be the bad guy, we'll let them like you". The book was a hard sell - loads of publishers said they weren't interested in breast cancer memoirs, that the market was flooded, something I wrote about in my Guardian newspaper column. But we did, finally, sell it, with a flurry of interest at the end. Two weeks of meetings with different publishers, coinciding with the recurrence of the breast cancer, so before each meeting I was ducking into bathrooms to see whether the red lesions on my chest really were spreading, or it was just my imagination (it wasn't).
The marketing meeting is the first time we get together to discuss ideas about how to make the book sell. Kerri, blonde, bright red lipstick and brilliant red flowery shirt, is the editor. This is only the second time I have met her; the first time was when Simon and Schuster called me in to discuss buying the book. We've had a couple of phone conversations though, fighting over the book's subtitle (she won). She's warm, I think, and concerned about the cancer. The two other women in the room are from publicity and marketing. They are the crux of all this, really. I think there's a lot we can do with this book, so I'm talking spin-off products using the gorgeous front cover, and the S&S people are saying, "Um, well, not sure what the marketing budget is..."
The first big thing is a meeting with the woman from Tesco's, the biggest supermarket of them all, and the one that has begun selling books along with everything else. Their new head of books has come over from Borders, the S&S marketing person says, "not from bananas". This meeting is happening in the first week of October, and then we'll find out whether Tesco's will agree to take the book...or not. If they do, the crucial thing is to get it into their "Chart" selection, not, God Forbid, "Range".
I leave the marketing meeting to go to Mount Vernon to see my oncologist, Peter Ostler, who says, for the first time ever, "hey, this is a good news meeting, not a bad news one". The cancer hasn't gone away, but it hasn't spread either. On the way home, I go to the enormous Tesco's where there is a massive pile of books in "Chart". Nobody's buying any, though. I buy black culottes, Florence and Fred, Tesco's "designer" range.