…would make for a great epitaph, no?
Anyway, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but a few years ago, when I’d moved back to the UK, I started sending out copies of my second book to literary agents (it was smaller, so cheaper to post) with nothing to signify who it was from or why but for “Please HELP me!” scrawled with a black Sharpie on the stark white of the cover.
My website was printed small by the barcode on the back at right angles to the jacket text and such was my naive, unfucked brain still fresh back in the fire that I felt anyone reading this GENIUS would want to seek him out and anyone WORTHY of representing him would be both able and willing, nay delighted to work their way through these cunning yet intriguing layers of mystery.
Surprising to nobody perhaps but me, was a statistically probable trickle of “it’s not you, it’s the market” kind of rejections. I grew up on an island seaside town so never tire of hearing new ways to be told to Fuck Off by people I want to have like me.
But later, depressed and lonely – as I’m never too proud to admit – I googled my books to see where they could be read and noticed copies were appearing on eBay. And I bought a copy, just to see how it felt, and then, just 3-5 working days later, I held a copy of All but one of those lights in the sky are dead complete with that tantrum cry for help on the cover. The only thing making it more tragic was that I’d paid to get this copy back.
Long story short – people thought my scrawled ‘tongue-in-cheek’ opening spiel WAS the cover. So a lesson learned – it doesn’t matter how good your product may be, don’t try to be cute or wispy or fey – always supply a cover letter. STATE YOUR INTENTIONS.
Which leads me here: It’s coming on five years now since I released my first book and yet, you’re right, it hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. Could it be bad writing? Sloppy editing? Or a non-existent marketing campaign? Probably. Am I working on a third? Of course, but caught up like any honest luddite in the inexorable tide of progress I’ve realised that most people read on devices, not pages, Grandpa. So in tidying the first up for eBook, I stumbled on my first real mistake. The title:
svineriet [From Danish Svin – Swine]
1. to compare something as dirty; a condition with clutter and dirt; a pigsty
2. a reckless action that is found commonly outrageous
But that’s a definition not immediately obvious to the casual glance of a potential reader, right? Nor is it one written in small text on the cover, or anywhere else in the book for that matter. It seems pretentious, and it hardly beckons you in with its text heavy cover and obtuse jacket description, and I guess in trying to keep some semblance of the Danishness I’d learnt living there I wanted to call it a Danish name, even if irreverent and self mocking.
But then I got lost so far up my own arse and forgot to tell anyone what it meant, expecting delighted readers would google the term, not even imagining for one moment that not everyone would flock to read an entire novel without knowing what the fuck it was about; Parlett, you fucking derelict.
But hang on – by describing what to expect without alluding to the meaning of the title, wasn’t I drawing people in, wasn’t there the air of the mysterious? See, I’m still in two minds, but we’re supposed to kill our darlings, right?!
The new title is not something I was mature enough for at the time (I know how that sounds but fuck it, I’m keeping it in), but I think it sums up the character’s journeys as well as any could, and should certainly attract readers who at first were unmoved enough by the initial title to read a few paragraphs.
It’s a book about love and loss, about the journey of friendship and the terrifying places loyalty can take us to.
It’s a book about
Just let me get this damn computer to run two programs at the same time (2-3 weeks) and I’ll have a new edit and eBook ready for pocket change.
Also a limited edition run of buy whenever and get however many you pay for unless you find a way to steal in it which case go nuts.
And if you do get a copy when it was still called Svineriet – and hadn’t had a wiser drunk to read it over – bring it by and I’ll sign it. I might still have that same Sharpie knocking around here somewhere.