Day Zero

Monday, 1 August 2016

[Note: if you like pictures of cats please note there is one at the end of this post.]

It begins.

I suppose the first thing I should say is 'thank you', to the lovely few people who have already pledged. I'm sure people who haven't pledged are also lovely, but how can I know? How can anyone know? There's only one way to be certain that someone's lovely, and that's by checking their name against the supporters page on this very project.

Publishing with Unbound is weird. I started writing this book about five years ago, and thought I was finished with it two years ago, and here I am now, trying to sell the idea of it to people who I hope will one day read it. (One day being in nine months' time. Fitting.)

My relationship with the book has been tricky. There was excitement at first, then a passionate frenzy which slowly simmered down into a happy coexistence. Then the standard rocks in the road popped up. Declarations of hate were flung from both sides - I was surprised to learn that a mute object can express loathing, and yet I assure you it did - and an attempted divorce soon failed when I realised how much time I'd sunk into it.

The marriage analogy falls apart a bit when it gets to the lengthy editing period. I guess Unbound are a kind of counselling service? Anyway, I'm now trying to get the world to pledge money to support my relationship counselling, in the hope that they will enjoy the results.

The publishing industry isn't what it used to be, and it isn't yet what it will become. Ask anyone with even the most passing investment in it and they'll agree it's in an uncomfortably extended pupal stage, endlessly hardening to try and survive while more and more emerging writers finish their first books to find out that the advances are gone, the opportunities are slim and profession to which they're aspiring pays, on average, £11,000 a year.

Many writers reach this stage and decide to self-publish, forfeiting a lot of the advantages that trained professional services can lend them: editing, publicity, design. There are books we would otherwise have which have vanished without this help. Unbound is weird because I was perfectly prepared to vanish this book. I would've been happy to let it sink, because I knew that it wasn't commercially viable. It's a meandering kind of story with a weird blend of humour and horror, poking into places it doesn't belong and exploring themes it doesn't really have any right to. No publisher in their right mind will bet on that.

Luckily, Unbound aren't in their right mind. They publish weird, wonderful, homeless books and they've got a bulletproof way of doing it - by sidestepping the risks other publishers have to take and letting the readers tell them what's worth having. I don't know how they pulled it off, but I'm very glad they did. Readers told me my book was worth having, and I'm just about managing to shake off the idea that, just because The Second Death of Daedalus Mole isn't commercial, doesn't mean it isn't good.

Thank you again for giving me a running start. I hope you enjoy the book, and this picture of my cat, Squeaky McGhee.

(My little sister took the photo. Thanks, Eilis.)

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