(No, not that kind of cereal!)
How very clever I thought I was in January 2015 when I published my first novel as an e-book. A story that was invented in my teens and finally put down on paper (laptop) by 2004 which then required over ten years of editing; but finally I had done it! It was out there! I believed in this book – I’ve read some great novels and I’ve read a lot of crap – so I thought I was qualified to know mine was good. Quality will out! Now to sit back and watch as I hit the best-seller list and movie producers came clamouring at my door, right? Wrong.
The internet is littered with hundreds of thousands of e-books. And most of us who have gone down this road have since realised that our endeavours are akin to a lottery. I may as well start playing the bloody lottery because my chances of winning that are about as good. My book needs to be discovered, word-of-mouth needs to spread for anything big to happen, so I didn’t give up the day job. But now I am reading more and more articles that assure me the book-buying public are changing, ‘power readers’ have evolved – and their appetite for books is voracious. So a successful author needs to be churning out books like crazy to be noticed. Because what the ‘power readers’ like are serials…
Did I not just tell you how long it took me to write my first novel, how many years it took to get it right? What I didn’t mention was that within those ten years, I also managed to write two sequels. So I know what you’re thinking, I’m in the fortunate position of having a serial already sitting there in my lap. Wrong again. Those sequels aren’t edited, and if you’re anything like me as a writer, you’ll know that editing is the hard part. No, I’m not one of the privileged few who can afford an editor and I’m not sure I really want one – surely I’m the only one who really knows what stays and what goes in a manuscript? And if I did hire an editor, who’s to say that I would ever recoup that initial outlay? Some say if you really care about your book, an editor is a must – but those people evidently have more spare capital lying about than me. My family shouldn’t have to go into hock just so I can live my dream.
I love writing stories; I love how the narrative and dialogue formulate in my head and how excited I get about spilling that tale out onto paper. I write incredibly quickly – I have to or I’ll forget something. So yes, I can churn books out pretty fast, but I couldn’t think of publishing a book that I didn’t feel was as good as it could be. The next task is to painfully dissect the thing; take out or change anything implausible, inject my kind of humour, inject more of…’me’. Then cut out anything extraneous or repetitive. Never be boring. And then read it. And re-read it. And read it aloud. Put it into a larger font. Read it again. Realise that during your tampering, you have created more errors. Correct the errors. Read it, change it, correct it, read it, change it, correct it, oh my God I’m going to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon!!!