You’re so vain…


It has become my habit on a Thursday night, after my two-year-old son has climbed the wooden hill to Bedfordshire, to sit down and write my Friday morning blog-post. I leave it to simmer/fester overnight and then take another look at it in the cold light of day before titivating; correcting what I can see needs correcting, and posting. That’s how seriously I’m taking my blog-posts these days. Am I a dick for it, I wonder?

I do enjoy the writing of it. Word limits and deadlines are self-imposed. I please myself; I answer to no-one over the content, style, length or language. I can write fuck whenever I like. Fuck. And I can pick my own topic – something that is pertinent to where I happen to be in that particular week in this stumbling about of mine to become an author.

And it is this need to feel like a real author that is a large part of the driving force behind my significant effort, engagement and dedication of time and energy on all fronts: writing, editing, proof-reading, formatting, interacting with readers (hugely enjoyable), social-networking, building an internet presence – a ‘platform’ (vomit). (Not querying agents. I gave that up like I gave up putting teeth under my pillow and for much the same reasons.) But more and more I find myself wondering, what is an ‘author’? How should I be defining the word ‘author’? What should be my criteria for ‘making it as an author’? (My blog tag-line is and has been from day one: ‘on trying to make it as an author’.)

I’ve written three books. I have self-published them. They have been downloaded. The first is free, but a decent number of decent people have gone on to pay for the second and third (if you are one of those decent people, because I have complete editorial control over my blog – another plus of the medium – I am interrupting myself to offer you my sincerest thanks for your continued support and encouragement). They have been read. They have been generally fairly well received. Am I not an author already? If you want to answer yes, as I do, can someone tell me why I don’t yet feel like one? Am I like some flawed character that Aesop may have written about who spends his life looking for something only to find that he has it already? Did I already make the transformation from ugly-duckling to swan? Someone pass me a mirror. (Shit I look tired.)

I do want to see my books in print. I want to hold hard-backed, dust-jacketed, first impressions of the first edition of each of the three Romney and Marsh Files. I want to inhale their reality. I want to line them up on a bookshelf, arrange a chair opposite and stare at them. I want to be courted by an agent. I want to be fought over by publishers. I want to be someone on Twatter (thanks M) who other authors are following (anyone else noticed their cliquey little name-dropping groups – wankers; someone who aspiring authors tweet on the tweets of in the hope of a crumb of recognition falling from their high-table. I make myself feel a little bit ill with my shallowness sometimes.

I have this theory that traditional publishing is the new vanity publishing. I’ve detailed above what I’ve achieved on my own, for myself. To a fair degree, I have what I set out to achieve: books and readers and satisfaction, but I want more. It’s not about the money – I’ve got a day job. I want industry recognition – affirmation and confirmation from those who run things. And that is simple vanity because I don’t need it.

A couple of days ago I reblogged a post by another aspiring author. It makes quite sobering reading for people like me. Tin’s experiences of trying to land an agent – he did get an agent, but it  hasn’t yet amounted to anything. The agent advised him to self-publish! – and subsequent book-deal have served to reinforce how I’m feeling about it all – not horribly negative just realistically resigned and more determined to accept what I am and where I am and probably where I will be in a year’s time. For that I am grateful to him for sharing.

I like to ghost about the web looking at author sites seeing how they view things. I have noticed that there are an increasing number of successful ebook authors who are positively encouraging others to forget about chasing the rainbow of traditional publishing deals, to self-publish, self-promote, take control, enjoy the profits and the feeling and if you should be fortunate enough, or good enough (actually, let’s stick with fortunate enough. There are plenty of good writers out there who won’t be found by the traditional publishing industry because they are simply unfortunate.) to garner attention of agents looking for an author who has proven the market for themselves in every sense of the expression dictate your own terms. Here are mine: (1) a small, hard-back print run of each title (2) you need to hook me up with someone in the music business who can help me produce my music (3) buy me lunch somewhere nice (4) a Shetland pony. OK, three of them are negotiable. My vanity is really quite a powerful thing. I’m such a slut. I could be my own worst enemy.

7 thoughts on “You’re so vain…

  1. I would imagine you are your own worst enemy from time to time, but aren’t we all. I like that your only firm demand is a Shetland pony, but I think you should also add an Uzi to that demand list, because Uzis are cool and we could shoot beer cans in Göztepe Park with them; in daylight while children are playing just to add an extra challenge. We could attach the beer cans to that new zip line thing they have. Plus you could use the Uzi to stage a one man invasion of a publishing house to get the best deal possible, maybe even some grenades. We could throw those at the metal garbage cans. I like to dream of your success with you.

    • Walker! A warm welcome to my blog. How did you guess that the Shetland would be the deal-breaker? I feel so transparent.
      FYI I already have a pair of custom-made, pearl-handled Uzis – a Father’s Day gift from the halfling. I patrol the streets of Istanbullshit after dark riddling inappropriately and selfishly parked vehicles with 9mm hollow-points. (I’ve usually run out of ammo by the end of my road.)
      Sadly, I am now barred from the refurbished Goztepe Park recreation area after complaining to a park warden that he wasn’t doing enough to prevent the teenagers from defecating in the novelty monkey swings.
      I like your idea for storming a publishing house ‘tooled-up’ for some ‘heavy-shit’. My only concern is the language barrier. How is your Turkish these days? I’m off to Google translate, ‘If my book isn’t coming hot of the presses within the hour people are going to start dying around here!’ (Throws head back, emits manic laughter and discharges two magazines of Migros extra-value 9mm into the glass ceiling.) The End.

      • If you ran that through Google Translate it would come out in Turkish something like “people here love hot coming of the squeezed if there is no book!”

      • Kevin! And a warm, salty welcome to you too, sir. I am particularly interested in the phrase, ‘hot coming of the squeezed’. I don’t suppose that there was an image to go with that was there?

      • Change in genre for me. I’m about to try my hand (oops forgive me that, dear reader) at erotica. I have been inspired by a good friend’s comment (see above) to write a book with the title – ‘The Hot Coming of the Squeezed.’ I think that I should use a pseudonym though. Excited? Me neither.

  2. Ah, but you make me chuckle while you do it – being your own worst enemy – so that’s something right? Change your tagline – drop the trying – as Yoda would say – there is no trying, only doing.

    • Hi Francis, I figure that if I make myself my own worst enemy then I’m the only one that I have to look out for. And if I be nice to myself then that’s the worst that can happen to me. Sage advice from the Jedi, as always. New tag line: ‘on doing to make it as an author’. (The syntax even resembles Yoda’s.) Best.

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