Welcome to my inaugural blog post. In fact, aside from my brief contributions via social media, this is the first time I have spoken to the world, as it were. So thanks for sharing the moment with me.
Of course, I’d love to be able to promise an entertaining, witty monologue; one which you’ll recommend to friends and colleagues. However, I have no reason to believe you’ll even read beyond this sentence. After all, what do I have to say that will distinguish me from the countless other authors blogging every day? Probably nothing, but if you bear with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my debut offering.
Why have I decided to create my own site and write this rambling piece? Because, in all honesty, it’s the done thing. I have no idea whether it will actually help me win friends, influence people, or ‘grow my brand’ – whatever that means. Yet the perceived logic is that having a website is beneficial for any aspiring author, as it is for any business owner. Because, let’s face it: that’s what most of us are here for. Sure, writing feels great; it’s cathartic, exhilarating and empowering. But would we put ourselves through the agonies of rewriting and proofreading if we didn’t have that tiniest modicum of hope that it might lead to something bigger?
When I first finished my first book, SUBNORMAL, I was presumptuous enough to think I was on the verge of such greatness. The naïve, idealistic me believed I stood a chance of obtaining a literary agent. “My book is really good,” I told myself, with more than a little conceit. “It’s different; it says something about the world we live in, and it’s an enjoyable read.” My family and friends had told me the same and, uncharacteristically for a natural pessimist like me, I had high hopes.
These were quickly dashed by a raft of maddeningly vague query-rejections, and I chose to self-publish. Against my better judgment, I assumed the world would lap up my humble scribblings, and was disheartened by the deafening silence of apathy. As Edmund Blackadder (see below) might say, my sales were slower than an asthmatic ant carrying heavy shopping.
Once I’d come to terms with the fact I wouldn’t be driving an Audi RS6 or living in an acre of land in the countryside, I scoured the web for advice to help my efforts. “Use Facebook and Twitter,” I was told. “Reach out to fellow authors.” “Speak publicly about your work and your cause.” With a heavy heart, I complied.
I say this because, by nature, I am an introvert. I keep myself to myself. Not quite anti-social per se, but I’ll often risk involvement in a road traffic accident to cross the road to avoid an awkward meeting with a person I’ve not spoken to for a while. Seriously.
Five years ago, not long after my son was diagnosed as autistic, I underwent testing for Asperger’s Syndrome. I’d always exhibited tendencies, and the knowledge that Autistic Spectrum Disorders are often inherited meant I wanted to know if I was the root cause of my child’s condition. Partly due to reasons with which I won’t bore you, I was (wrongly, in my opinion) judged not to be on the autistic spectrum.
Why am I telling you this? Is it an attempt at an endearing, X Factor/Pop Idol-style sob story?
Absolutely not. There are people who suffer greatly with autism, Asperger’s and other forms of ASD – like my son – and they are the ones who deserve sympathy. Any minor symptoms I exhibit haven’t stopped me from living an independent life with a wonderful wife and two beautiful children.
The reason I’m divulging this insight is so that my readers can understand why I write what I write. Also, my self-published contemporaries might appreciate why I’m a little more taciturn than the average independent writer, and why I’ve decided to donate some of my meagre earnings to charity.
Whether I have an official label or not, engaging with strangers – or even acquaintances – doesn’t sit well with me. Or, at least, it didn’t. Nevertheless, against my natural inclinations, I plunged into the online netherworld of indie authors, and I haven’t looked back since. There are some wonderful people out there who have been very accommodating to a “noob” like me, and if any of them are reading, I’d like to say “thanks.”
One of the pieces of advice I was happier to take was “keep writing,” and I finished my second novel, SUPERNORMAL, eight months after the first was published. Though I went years after graduating from university without putting pen to paper, the thought of stopping now fills me with dismay. I finished editing SUPERNORMAL just a few weeks ago, and have been spending the last month promoting both books. But I can already feel the gnawing itch inside, urging me to start again.
“So,” you might say, “what is the point? Why have I just wasted a few precious minutes reading this random blokes ruminations?”
In short, I was a reluctant indie. Now I’m not. The joys of seeing good reviews, of being contacted by readers gushing about my work, of helping other authors have compensated somewhat for my rejection by traditional publishing. It won’t take me from 0-60 in four seconds like an RS6, or stop the next door neighbours nagging about my son’s more objectionable behaviours, but it means people on the other side of the world will see my work, a luxury I wouldn’t have enjoyed ten or twenty years ago.
Thanks for reading, and leave a comment if you have time!