Failure is just an option.


I have big news of a personal nature to share this morning with all other writers out there who seek recognition and validation for their efforts.

Yesterday, I blogged about the clock ticking down to the official announcement of the CWA Debut Daggers Crime Writing Award Shortlist at the Crimefest International Crime Fiction Convention in Bristol. This was something that I had entered my three Romney and Marsh Files into. And because of my core belief in my writing and these books I confess to having harboured genuine hope of getting on that list.

I didn’t. I’m now officially part of the chaff.

Naturally, I’m disappointed, but there is nothing ever to be gained by wallowing in self-pity. And I’m not into self-doubt where my writing is concerned.

Anyway a good friend of mine advised me to check out the comments on Amazon of the books I have published if I needed a boost. No need. I have them all memorised. Well, only the good ones.

While I was on the computer, I went to my blog to see if anyone has visited recently and found the following comment posted this morning in my ‘About Me’ page:

Hi. Just finished the second Romney book and downloading the next. I have thoroughly enjoyed your writing. The two main characters are believable and the story lines are not bogged down in minute detail like many other detective books tend to be. Well done and thank you!

Carole, thank you for your most timely, welcome and encouraging comment.

I’m not known for dishing out good advice, let alone taking it (you should see the train wreck that my life is) but today I will make an exception. Here’s something that all writers slaving away at their art could do worse than to take note of: If you’re looking for recognition and validation of your work, as I am, you need only look as far as what your readers take the time and trouble to let you know what they think. No one’s opinions matter more than theirs.

The acid test aka a cunning plan.


Note to self thirty-two:

I have been fortunate for the last couple of days that it has snowed in Istanbul. Istanbul city zoo has been closed as a result of this spot of seasonal weather and I haven’t had to go to work. But I have been busy.  I have been organising my entries for the CWA (Crime Writers Association) annual competition. Closing date 2nd February 2013.

The CWA, for those who don’t know, is an organisation that runs the annual Daggers competitions. These are various prestigious awards handed out to authors who have been deemed to have written superior crime-fiction works through the year. See here if you’re interested.

The CWA have a Debut Dagger category in their annual competition for previously unpublished authors. Self-published authors can enter providing they have met all of their self-publishing costs themselves. I am a self-published author of crime novels and I have met my own costs. I’m entering.

I don’t expect to win. I really don’t expect to win. I am not entering to win. I am entering because it is an opportunity to get my writing under the noses of some influential people – the judges: literary agents and the like. The CWA website boasts that from past competitions many of the authors who didn’t win still found themselves being courted and subsequently taken on by the gate-keepers. And that is why I’m entering.

It costs £25 per entry. Enter as many books as you like. Submit the first three-thousand words and a five-hundred word synopsis. I’m entering my three Romney and Marsh titles and I think that it will be worth the £75 to get my work in front of people in the industry – as long as it’s not just another con: a slush pile, lucky dip scenario. I don’t want to believe that it is. Not when I’m actually paying for the privilege.

The website suggests that writing the synopsis for one’s book can be challenging for a variety of reasons. I found it surprisingly easy. And I think that my synopses are pretty good. This process was made easy for me because in the last month or so I’ve read each of my books something like three-hundred times – well it feels like it: round after round of proof-reading and editing. At least all that suffering had an upside, as well as improving my books’ content and quality, of course (I hope).

I called this post the acid test aka a cunning plan. Here’s why.

The acid test: I’m working on the premise that because I’m paying handsomely to enter the competition my writing will actually get looked at and considered, unlike when one submits to a literary agent (allegedly). Because my writing will get looked at by professionals in the industry, if nothing comes of it, if my efforts are scorned, ignored, passed over, then that will be a form of proof that my books are shit. Maybe I should rename it the shit test. I don’t like to think they are shit. If I have to face up to the fact that the people that know about these things think that my books are shit I don’t know what I’ll do. Take up writing erotica, perhaps. That seems to be selling well at the moment. But my heart wouldn’t be in it. I’m essentially a British police procedural crime-writer and I’m proud of that label.

A cunning plan: I’m working on the premise that because I’m paying handsomely to enter the competition my writing will actually get looked at and considered, unlike when one submits to a literary agent (allegedly). Because my writing will get looked at by professionals in the industry…hang on. Déjà-vous anyone? Well that’s part of it. The real cunning bit is that I believe that because I’m entering three books in a clearly defined series (each page’s header must contain the title and my titles are all followed by The First/Second/Third Romney and Marsh File. A shrewd and astute subliminal marketing ploy, I like to think.) an equally shrewd and astute literary agent is going to see them and think something like, ‘Ah! This one’s got three books written already. We won’t have to invest lots of time and money on a one hit wonder. He’s ripe for the plucking. Let us snap this author up immediately in a three-book deal.’ Alternatively, said literary agent will see that there are three books that I’m peddling and just feel particularly sorry for me that I wasted so much of my life and self on writing so much shit.