I didn't much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I've never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can't comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them... But, then again, any reading is better than no reading, right? But The Casual Vacancy changed all that.
Last week, my first novel was published. I didn't, in all honesty, have any clue what to expect: it's not as though there's a training course called 'How To Be A First-Time Novelist' which lays out what's going to happen... I thought I'd share my top ten things every author needs to know before their first time.
Take a look in HMV and tell me what you see. For while the conveyor belt of the craven book publishing world rolls on, the art world preens and lumbers in search of the next concept, and our once glorious world of music has had its guts ripped out by the internet. Yet the musician persists in his efforts to have the cloth-eared hear his songs.
Mott has written the novel in a way that you expect it to be an account from one of the more educated characters, whom often doubts their dates and so forth. This use of engagement with the reader, allows the mysterious narrator to guide you through the town and the story, with a somewhat effortless ease.
As she handed it to me she casually said, 'I think it might actually be written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym'. The book was called Mountains of the Moon by an author using the pen name I.J. Kay. It was the similarity between this author initials and those of the Harry Potter author that piqued her curiosity.
Insomnia, being one of Parkinson's common symptoms, I found hours during the middle of the night were perfect for writing; in peace and quiet, uninterrupted by phones or distracted by family. I would sit at the kitchen table writing from my very soul, and found it therapeutic expressing my feelings and seeing them in print. I believe writing helped me come to terms with my diagnosis.
Crowdfunding, I thought, "what better than to try it myself?" In reality, there were few other options. I could throw away the book and get on with being a businessman; pay to publish it myself or put it on Amazon where it would get a digital sale and no one would really know if it was a success or not - in other words I could avoid losing face. But all three sounded cowardly.
The bottom line seems to be 80% of that much sought after self-fulfillment kind of happiness comes from the 20% of my time which I am able to spend writing. Tying in with that oft quoted/ misquoted 80-20 rule or, the law of the vital few, which states roughly 80% of the effects, comes from 20% of the causes.
We all have our favourite books but what makes some books so special that they become a favourite book for millions of people? Without doubt, great editing, engaging cover art and clever marketing all play their part but I am more interested in what the initial ingredients are that go into making the writing itself special.
The last month has been completely bonkers, Sealed with a Kiss was still number one in the Amazon romance chart. I hadn't really had any thoughts about what would happen next. And then the emails started arriving from agents. My instinctive reaction was to steer clear - I was quite liking the whole going-it-alone self-publishing thing.
As Winston Churchill famously said, 'Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.' We may well be 'at the end of the beginning' of of a period of change in publishing trends. Amazon et al have now made their mark in the direct publishing world, and if they haven't yet caused the industry to sit up and take note, they surely soon will.