I was lucky, or so I thought. The first publisher I sent my first ever novel, Scoosh, to, was only too happy to take him on, and only three days after sending the copy at that.
Mark is an amiable Englishman and lives on the exotic island of Arran. His previous publishing credits ran along the lines of island history, niche stuff like fairy tales and some boatbuilding/shipping tales. We got on just fine when we met for our first power lunch at the Kildonan Hotel, easily thrashing out what we expected of each other.
Mark mocked-up a copy of Scoosh for me to look over after his initial edit and we arranged to meet again to discuss any alterations I might have. He also asked me to think about the cover. and I went to work on it right away.
I left messages for the two caricaturists I found on the web and one messaged back that same evening.
As it turned out, Brian Morrison went to school with one of my brothers and used to hang around my house, albeit after I had skied the pitch, so I didn't know him from Adam. He lives a mere five minutes from me by car. We met up for a pint in The Laureston Hotel, Ardrossan, and Brian went home with the mock-up to give him an idea as to what he was up against. By the way, that's his quite excellent interpretation of Scoosh above.
One month or so later I was a published author and feeling pretty good about myself; well, you would, wouldn't you? I purchased several copies and bandied them about. Mainly freebies to relatives and friends but the idea, as you well know, is to get yourself noticed. The Arran Banner and the Ardrossan-Saltcoats Herald both read, recommended and reviewed (very favourably) the tome, and I felt sure the future looked rosy.
I'm no salesman, I'll hold my hands up to that fact but I gave it a go. I did sell tickets on trains for over fifteen years, but then, I had a captive audience. Local outlets would happily sell my book, as long as there was something in it for them. Reasonable enough I suppose but there was no way I could afford to stock their shelves and wait around for the return; shit, I even had to sell the car in order to eat at one point. Mark had slightly better luck but he too was finding it difficult. Also, I was already at work on my next project and that was taking up a lot of my time, so, I had another go at the publicity thing; and that's when I hit, not one, but two brick walls.
3TFM. I spit those words with venom. The chief dude at my local radio station tells me he'd be happy to read and review Scoosh then get me in for an interview, so I called round with a copy and left my contact details. You think publishers like to keep you hanging on? Think again. Think a good four months or more.
I'm a patient man, some say too patient, too laid back for my own good according to several ladies of my acquaintance. I got on the blower and a receptionist informed me that the book won't be reviewed because certain content is deemed unsuitable; oh, and by the way, the entire station staff has had a read and they all enjoyed it. I mean, that happened at the Herald but they had the decency to print a review. I was seething, I don't often seethe. I told the girl I would be dropping by to have a word with the dude, and to pick up the copy of Scoosh.
What incensed me more than the fact that he wasn't there, was the sad state of the book when it was handed over. It had been well thumbed, yes,, and was grubby with cup stains and other stains I couldn't begin to guess at. I looked for a bin but couldn't see one, but that was fortunate in a way.
A Jakey I see along the shore sometimes was given it as a gift and some four days later he caught me up to thank me. He'd enjoyed the tale and had then passed it on to some of his mates, some of whom made the same appreciative noises.
I gifted a copy to Saltcoats Library, thinking that might be another method of putting my name out there. Again, think again. The dude was all over it. He would read Scoosh and get right back to me. I know he's still in the job but that was over a year ago. I saw him a few weeks later and he explained he was mowed out with work and hadn't yet got around to reading the book, and then made the same empty promise as before. I won't ask him again, I have principles you know.
I've since gifted a copy of another book, Parallel Lives, this time to Ardrossan Library. I also asked could I hang a poster to advertise it. Wouldn't you know it? The very same dude has to approve it. When I told the girl I wouldn't be holding my breath she gave me a puzzled look, but then nodded her understanding sympathetically when I explained.
I'm now pondering on getting it out there that Scoosh is on the banned list. See if I can't go down the Serge Gainsbourg, Frankie goes to Hollywood route and generate sales on the back of that. It worked for them.
I don't want to be stinking rich, me and money never got on. I want people to read my work though and don't think that's a whole lot to ask.
I've more than likely made some empty promises in my time, and I could well be paying for them now.
Mark recently told me he's given the publishing up. He sent me a disc containing the necessary details to convert Scoosh to ebook format so now I have to figure out how to go about that.