In 2007, after six or seven years of writing my little heart
out, I found a publisher for my sixth novel – MEAT.
I was overjoyed. Me and Bloody Books in bed together. The
result: a real novel. Solid, with a cover and pages and everything. On a book
shelf. IN A BOOKSHOP – lots of them, actually. And people were going to buy
this book. They were going to read it too. It isn’t pretty watching a man
spontaneously orgasm in public but I did it a lot back then. Then Stephen King
read the ARC and said very complimentary things about it. My publisher texted Mr.
King’s response to me and I nearly orgasmed to death on a remote Austrian
hillside. Fortunately, my wife was there and knew what to do – she’s medically
And so the romance of being a real writer began. I went on a
couple of national signing tours (took a lot of spare underwear) found myself
interviewed on radio and written about in newspapers and magazines.
That was when the shine began to wear off: giving talks to
audiences of three or five; turning up for signings only to be ignored by
everyone in the shop; having that creeping realisation that you ought to be
writing instead of swanning about like a celebrity when the truth is people
neither know nor care who you are.
I quickly came to understand that what makes you a writer is
the simple fact that you write.
Beautiful/Bloody Books took my second novel – after a
radical rewrite that turned the book into something I’d never intended. If I
hadn’t done the rewrite though (an extra 40,000 words plus changes to many of
the characters) I wouldn’t have got the deal. What choice was there? Garbage
Man wasn’t as successful as MEAT but I was still receiving royalties on both
books up until my last statement in January this year.
I submitted a third novel – what I’d hoped was classic
Eco-Horror – and BB didn’t want it. ‘We don’t see this as the next Joseph
D’Lacey novel’ they said. Oh.
So I wrote another book. And another. Two years later and I
find I still can’t sell anything except the odd short story or novella.
‘Ah,’ you say. ‘No offence, like, but maybe you’re rubbish
at it, mate.’
None taken, twat. But perhaps you’re right. Maybe I am
rubbish. And a smart writer will always keep this in mind. Partly because it
keeps the ego under control (I have a specially made cage for mine) and partly
because it cheers you up – after all, everyone knows it’s only the rubbish
books that get published!
‘Don’t ever try and write anything ‘good’. You won’t stand a
chance out there!’ That’s my advice to the novice these days.
Anyway. Long and short: I’ve risen. I’ve fallen.
What next? Do I go the traditional route again? Keep trying
to break down the commissioning editor’s door for little or no money? Or, now
that I have three and a half dedicated fans, do I self publish and make a
I guess time will tell.