The Final Countdown.

Barring an alien invasion, in which Martians coordinate their ships to fire bolts of plasma energy upon the world’s sources of electricity thereby destroying life as we know it, tomorrow should see the release of Particular Stupidities (Romney and Marsh File #5).

Two days ago I received an email from Amazon informing me that there were some formatting issues with the book that needed my attention. I can’t speak for other self-publishers but when I get an email from Amazon telling me to do something I feel the need to drop everything, sprint home, fire up the aging laptop, do it, then email them back to let them know how happy I was to respond to their wishes in full. No trouble at all. I regard Amazon as my employers these days and I don’t want to disappoint them and face consequences, sanctions: banishment to the self-publishing wilderness temporary or otherwise, for example. ( I can be a bit dramatic on occasion.)

I looked at my employer’s suggestions and decided that I was happy with my way of doing things but because they are Amazon I was going to comply. In any case, earlier this week I made the mistake of opening up the word document of this book and reading the first few chapters, just to see how it still grabbed me. I found a couple of words that I’d repeated close to each other (that irritates me in a text when there are usually so many synonyms available to choose from) and I thought I might as well take the opportunity to change those while I was carrying out Amazon’s instructions. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t make any changes. The book’s editing option was locked. I was locked out of my own book. My bowels made themselves known to me.

I double-checked the date. OK. No problem. I could email Amazon and they could sort things out. They are always very good at communication – friendly, helpful and prompt. I emailed them. They emailed me back – friendly and promptly – letting me know that there was nothing to be done. Apparently, Amazon’s policy is that when a book is on pre-order it is locked down, protected from all influence and interference, for the three days prior to its release date. My sweat ran cold and freely from every pore followed by the threat of things hot and messy running freely from other places I was struggling to maintain control of.

When I recovered from my swoon my first thought, after exhausting my extensive repertoire of Anglo-Saxon swear words and checking my underwear, was why would they email me with things that need to be done at a time when I can’t do them? My mind was then immediately filled with ‘what if’ scenarios. What if I’d found something very wrong on a final, final check that I hadn’t been able to resist? A wrong name, a missing paragraph, a ‘proper’ formatting issue? I would not have been able to gain access to my book and make the necessary changes. All those pre-orders would go out across the world carrying the errors and the damage to my reputation would be cataclysmic, a bit like what those alien invaders could do to the world. Only worse.

As I said above, I’m happy with the way the book looks (apart from those two words that I really do want to change). But hang on… what if there are other issues? I didn’t read past the first five chapters. Did I thoroughly, thoroughly check everything before I uploaded it? I think I did. I’m sure I did. Didn’t I? Did I? I can’t look now. To find something else, something significantly disastrous, something that I could not rectify because my book is locked down would probably finish me as a fully functioning human being.

My current state of unease exists because I’ve gone the pre-order route with this book. It’s the first time I’ve done that. It’s worth repeating that Amazon insists on having the final copy submitted ten days before publication date. I fully understand why. But for self-publishers like me – mind like a sieve, memory of a goldfish, total responsibility for everything mine – the experience can become quite… agonizing. Anxiety levels quickly move up the scale towards panic attack when the eleventh hour approaches and the doubts and worries stampede in.

Of course, the answer is quite simple and obvious: do everything properly, thoroughly, in good time and then check, check and check again before pressing upload. And I’m sure I did. Except that did I?

Still available for the special pre-order price of only 99p (or the US $ equivalent). This will increase to £1.99 the day after publication.

36 thoughts on “The Final Countdown.

    • Hi Sandie
      Always good to know the blog is being read and enjoyed. I hope you’re right. I haven’t cocked up before. (Little voice in my head chimes in with: there’s always a first time ;-( I hate that little voice.) 🙂

  1. Stop worrying! I’ll forgive you any little errors just for the privilege of reading your latest. You sound like Acer, all this self doubt! I’ve just finished smoke and mirrors, is there going to be another Acer Sansom? I have read all of your books now and can’t wait for my preorder to pop up on my Kindle.
    Best wishes

    • Hi Bobbie
      I’ll try. Trouble is I’m such a Primark donna. (Damn predictive text; that should say prima donna.) Self-doubt is definitely a quality Acer and I share. I wish we shared others but that’s it.
      Certainly there will be another Acer. I’d love to get cracking on it sooner rather than later. I miss him.
      Thanks so much for your kind words and your download of this next offering. I hope you enjoy it.
      Best wishes.

  2. BREATHE, Oliver….now, everything will be FINE, LOVELY, WONDERFUL and other synonyms. Honestly. First time is ALWAYS the worst. Am anxious and excited for you–am hoping the pre-sale #s are good. Just wish everyone who appreciates clever dialog and solid writing would buy the 1st Romney and Marsh (or any of your novels)–they’d also be hooked & Oluver Tidy Addicts, to say nothing of making Oliver Tidy a wealthy entity (you’d probably have to incorporate, etc., but being stinking rich may be worth it, along with the recognition of your craft).
    Best of luck & thanks for sharing your Amazon anxiety–if I hadn’t already purchased the book, THIS post would surely cause me to do so out of empathy (& laughter) alone.

    • Hi Lucy
      Thanks for your comment. I’m still breathing (I can think of a couple of ex-wives who would be sorry to read that.) My compliments on your use of synonyms. Talk about rubbing salt in my wounds 🙂
      I’m eager to learn the pre-order numbers. Amazon don’t seem to reveal that until the book is published. Can’t wait. I might share on here next week if it’s more than ten.
      And thanks for your kinds words for my writing. Much appreciated.
      I’ve had a good think about things and I’m sure I could handle being stinking rich. A subtle fragrance of rich would do. Anything that would help pay for my leaky roof to get fixed. Sigh.
      One of my most enduring maxims is ‘sharing is caring and caring is sharing’ (unless it’s food, wine or money).
      Best wishes

  3. Oh dear Oliver, no point getting worked up about that which you cannot change. Despite the fact that I share your irritation at repetitive words, I strongly suspect that most of your readers will be too engrossed in the story to notice a couple of similar words close together. You appear to have a loyal following and most of us will be very forbearing of minor problems. Think back to the editing problems in the first R&M file, but we stayed with you and now you have the services of a good proofreader/editor.

    I’m not wishing you stinking riches, but hope your writing will keep you comfortable, just not so comfortable that you get writers’ block.

    Chin up – all will be well.

    • Hi Dawn
      Thank you for your wise words of encouragement. I do feel incredibly fortunate to have a good number of very supportive readers. It’s one of the wonderful things about this whole venture. They are a patient and tolerant bunch, too.
      Funny you should mention those first three R&M Files – I’ve been thinking of going back to them and having a tinker. Yes, the originals, before I got some constructive feedback, were peppered with embarrassing errors. The memories make me cringe. What a learning curve it’s been.
      Best wishes.

  4. Hi Oliver,
    No matter how many times we read, read and re-read, there will always be something we writers think should be changed. But I do know what you mean about using the same word in close proximity, and I am always careful to choose something different. But do not get your knickers in a twist, or put your underpants on the wrong way round. I’ve just read a novel where the same word appeared four times in two consecutive sentences. Also I do not think the author had heard of punctuation, sentence structure or light and shade. So whatever you think is wrong with your novel, I am sure you are making a mountain out of a molehill. As someone once said to me when my husband was about to undergo triple bypass surgery, she said, “Pull yourself together, woman.” I immediately burst out laughing. So Oliver, “For God’s sake, get a grip.”
    By the way, I am looking forward to receiving the book you are having a nervous breakdown about. Just hope you weren’t about to go over the edge when writing it 🙂
    As always, my best wishes.

    • Hi Pat
      So true. We have to stop somewhere or we’ll go crazy working and reworking things and what’s a repeated word or two among a hundred thousand. A drop in the proverbial.
      Sounds like you’ve read a book to avoid. I hope it was a free download.
      Your example of what’s important, really important, in life is something to provide a proper perspective for my petite drama,
      I hope you enjoy the read when you get to it. As always I look forward to your thoughts.
      Best wishes to you and yours.

      • Morning Oliver,
        Your new book is now safely on my Kindle, but am saving it for my hols next week. As for that book I mentioned, I paid 99p for it. I know I bought yours pre-order for the same price, but I know I will be reading something of quality for a change as I’ve read some real doozies over the past few months.
        Best wishes.

      • Hi Pat
        Good to know. Thanks. I appreciate your comments for my writing, as always.
        Enjoy your holiday! (and the book, I hope.)
        Best wishes

  5. Well I’m normally a bit nitpicking about grammar and spelling etc but as someone else in an earlier message said I was so caught up in the story I didn’t notice anything.
    I’ve already posted a review on Amazon but wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed another visit with Dover CID.
    I am such a sad individual that when i woke in the night 0130am to be precise and I realised it was now D Day I switched on my Kindle and wifi so the book would download.

    I managed to go back to sleep safe in the knowledge that it would be there for me to read later in the day.

    So now I’m back to waiting again

    • Hi Denise
      Thanks so much for your wonderfully encouraging feedback both here and on Amazon. I can’t believe how quickly you’ve read it. I’m always anxious for the first comment, as I’m sure all writers are, so thanks for putting me out of my misery with something so positive.
      I was touched to learn that you would interrupt your sleep to download it. What a compliment for the R&M Files.
      As soon as I get back to Turkey and organised I’ll be back to the writing.
      Best wishes and thanks again.

      • Just checked Amazon again and I see R & M 5 is still available at 0.99 I thought that was just the pre order price
        Hope you are not being seen off

      • Hi
        Thanks for your concern over the pricing. I appreciate you looking out for my interests 🙂 I adjusted it today but Amazon take a little while for things to kick in.
        Best wishes

  6. Hi Oliver, i pre ordered and the book actually arrived on my kindle a day early!! A thoroughly good read as always, and , as a Dover resident it is always fun reading about all the places I know.
    I drove past the Gateway yesterday, and was actually wondering which flat Joy had bought!! An hour later, along Alkham valley road, I was pondering on the whereabouts of Tom’s country pile.
    Anyway, a great read as I said, and although there were a couple of little errors in there, they in no way detracted from the story.
    Well done, and here’s to the next one.

    • Hi Andy
      Thanks for getting in touch. Good to know that you enjoyed this fifth R&M File, especially as a Dover resident.
      Your comment about The Gateway made me smile. Last time I was in Dover I had a wander along the seafront and found myself looking across at the flats wondering the same thing.
      R&M#6 is next on my list.
      Best wishes.

  7. No worries Oliver, I have started the book…normally I whiz through books but this one I am savouring…really enjoying it so far and it has given me a few belly laughs!

    • Hi Somnus
      Good to know that you’re enjoying it thus far. I hope it continues that way. As you know the humour is important to me. I like it when a reader gets it.
      Best wishes.

  8. Got the pre ordered copy, as others have commented the book draws you in and have not seen any major errors. Funniest book you have written to date, has me laughing out loud! Still have not finished it yet, but your best book to date.

    • Michael
      Many thanks for letting me know. Much appreciated. Always good to know that the humour is working for readers. I hope you continue to enjoy it.
      Best wishes

  9. Hey, nice cover. I posted reviews on amazon, goodreads and wordpress today.
    Having spent quite a bit of time reading about Gardner’s MI theory I found Romney’s ideas very entertaining, and in some ways thought-provoking.

    • Hi
      Many thanks for getting in touch and for the great reviews you’ve posted around the web. Your support of and continued interest in my writing is much appreciated. I’m glad you enjoyed the latest R&M File. And it’s good to know that Romney’s alternative theory has provoked some amusement and thought. I hoped it would.
      Best wishes.

  10. Morning Oliver,
    Just got back from my hols and still trying to catch up on things as no Wi-Fi in the mountainous region of Wales where I was staying. I gather you should be back in Turkey by now. Anyway, back to business: left a review on Amazon for you. Savoured R & M like a good wine; loved it: a joy to read.
    Best wishes.

    • Hi Pat
      Still feel like I’m on my hols. Ankara is so hot – thirty-seven degrees today. Mountainous Wales sounds cool and enticing – that we are just hanging out at the local pool all day.
      Thanks very much for the great feedback and rating on Amazon. As always, sincerely appreciated. Good to know that you enjoyed it.
      Keep thinking I should be knuckling down at the computer now but it’s just tooooooo hot and the pool is such fun. This wasn’t the start I imagined. But I’m not complaining. 🙂
      Best wishes.

      • You’re a full-time writer now, and once you get over the hot spell you’ll be only to ready to start work. I must admit I work better in the autumn and winter when the mornings are dark and the days short – it must be that ‘trying to make it as an author tucked away in a cold garret’ syndrome. One thing I know, though, your brain will never stop writing no matter what you’re doing – hello, I’m talking to you 🙂
        Take care.

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