I just got Kindled

Yesterday my first book got Kindled. When I got the email to say it was ready I confess I got the shakes a bit. There’s no going back. It’s not a huge 100,000 word blockbuster rather a modest twenty-odd thousand words of self-help type but it’s mine and I’m proud of it.

I’ve lived with this book for more than six months in between the day job – first in the research and then the writing. Sometimes it flowed easily; sometimes it was sluggish. But the most fiddly part was the editing and like the guy in Camus’ The Plague I got stuck writing and rewriting the same sentence. Then I was gripped with this fear that I might have inadvertently nicked someone else’s words or phrases. The subject of the book – making time for the things you want to do in life – is by no means original and the internet is larded with articles, blogs and references. I know I’ve read some of them. I spent last night checking over the mss for possible copyright breaches – for the third time.

All that is left now is for me to write a few persuasive sentences for the advertising blurb and decide on key words for searches. Despite all the anxieties and neuroses it’s brought out in me I feel…not exactly satisfied – I’m never that – but perhaps elated. I’ve done what I set out to do, as well as I could do it. Whether it burns with a bright flame or fizzles out remains to be seen.

I’m also relieved that I can move on. For sure I’ve got work to do in marketing and selling the book but my head’s stuffed full of other ideas and projects all crying to get out.

Clearly I can’t give my Oscar speech since I ain’t sold a single copy yet but I would like to publicly thank Steve at http://www.kindlepublishmybook.co.uk for his support and help. I gave him the worst possible example of a mss for Kindle – full of formatting, tables, illustrations – all the Kindle no-no’s. He took it all on the chin and worked his magic in no time at all.

Now, I need 5 or 6 sentences to promote the book – how hard can that be?

The First Time Ever I…

The first time a writer sees anything of theirs published has to be a real milestone and something to be remembered and cherished. My “first time ever” memory is in HD and glorious technicolour. I had moved, with spouse, away from the town and into the Yorkshire Dales. It was part of a deal I made with spouse for me to have a gap year away from the career ladder I was climbing.

Up to this point my literary outpourings had not been well received…in fact they’d barely been received before they were winging their way back in the obligatory stamped addressed envelope. This was well before the dawning of the age of computer.

Things were tight financially – so much so that I spent an awful lot of time licking and sticking Co-op stamps (early version of Clubcard and Nectar points)into little books. Then I would barter or cash them in for petrol money at the local shop.

One morning I had to visit the Doctor’s surgery and, indulging in my usual sport of eavesdropping I heard what I thought was a funny story. Furtively I noted down the salient points and when I got home I turned it into a letter-to-the-editor for a national newspaper. At the time they were paying £5 for the star letter. I then forgot about it.

About a month later I got this letter from the paper congratulating me on writing the star letter, enclosing a cutting and, much more importantly, a postal order (yes you read that right) for a whole Five English Pounds. WOO-HOO! I was in funds at last.

I walked on air for the next week or so carrying the cutting in my pocket. Then, a few weeks after I got another letter from the editor. ‘This is it’ I thought as I feverishly tore at the envelope, ‘they want me to write for them’.

Alas, No. It was a very stiff letter from the Ed-in-Chief reminding me that the paper prided itself on only publishing original letters and reprimanding me for sending in a letter that was not original. To say I was gob-smacked is inadequate. But there, enclosed with the letter was a cutting from a magazine dated two years earlier and it told almost exactly the same funny story.

In that moment, the gilt slid off the gingerbread. I had acted in good faith; I’d never seen the magazine; I genuinely believed I was offering an original snippet based on the story I overheard. Yet I felt as guilty as I would had I really copied someone else’s work.

But that’s not the worst of it. For the next few weeks I lived in fear and trembling of another letter from Ed-in-Chief asking for his postal order back.

There’s a moral to this tale somewhere.