The horns of a dilemma

Yesterday I finished the final, final proof-reading of my first Romney and Marsh book, Enough Rope. Today I have begun the process of editing the computerised version of the book to match my corrections/alterations. Next step will be formatting for an e-book. It all takes time, but then so does everything else like working and eating and commuting and being a father of a one-year-old and sleeping. And there are only so many hours in the day.

On the whole I am fairly pleased with the book still. If I had to write it again I don’t think that I would change anything. I don’t think that it can be improved by me. I freely admit that I’m no Booker winner (I wouldn’t even make the so-long list) but I know that I have given this book my best; the best as the writer that I was when I wrote it. This was my second attempt at writing a full-length novel.

I find myself, however, in a bit of a dilemma with these three books. I think that the second book is better than the first and the third is better than both of the first two. I don’t know why exactly. It could be because the characters have grown in the books and in my mind and become more real and familiar that I feel this way. It could be that I prefer the storylines in the second and third books. It could also be because I found myself enjoying the writing of the second and third more than the first.

I like humour. I try to be funny sometimes. It doesn’t always work, of course. People have different tastes in these things. In the first Romney and Marsh book the subject material did not lend itself to any attempt at humour – there isn’t much to laugh at in a brutal rape – and I wasn’t thinking about trying to be funny. In the second book I found myself looking for opportunities to make light of a few things and I like to think that I succeeded once or twice – I still find the idea of Detective Inspector Romney deliberately walking dog-shit up the length of the expensive white carpet of someone’s hallway that he didn’t much like amusing. In the third book I was deliberately fabricating opportunities to include humour. Consequently, there are several passages that still make me laugh even now.

When I started writing these Romney and Marsh books I had no intention of trying to make passages or the characters humorous in any way. They were going to be serious crime fiction. Now, I like the fact that they are leaning that way more and more. It amuses me. I’m considering my audience more: me.

So, my dilemma is this: my aim is to release the first book in the series and then hope for some positive reviews on Amazon, for example, and – not least because the book will be free to download – a good number of take-ups. Then I want people to be interested enough to pay a little something for the second book and the third. That’s the plan. But if I consider the best book is the third shouldn’t I be starting with that? But I can’t really because it’s a series. But I could, maybe, because they don’t rely on each other. One doesn’t need to have read the first and second to understand or appreciate the third. But I want to release them in the order that they were written and, come to think of it, there are strands of the three that are drawn out in a chronological order. It’s awkward. If no one likes the first much they won’t be tempted to pay for the second and third. Shouldn’t I be putting my best foot (book) forward? I don’t need this.

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