O’Connell Street.

Parked at the Lilac Centre. No point fucking around with all that weird on street parking shit. Always that feeling that there’s some fat clamper hiding behind a tree waiting for you to park one inch too far across his imaginary line, and he won’t let you go for any less than a month’s rent. Did a fast u-turn at the Dealz and spun towards the car park fast. Stopped to let a blind man cross at the entrance and then got the ticket and drove up two flights and parked between a Range Rover and a Merc. Good company for the 1.4 Petrol from Mayo, with the Galway registration and 300 thousand miles on her 15 year old engine. Went for the lifts, burnt the floor number into my head, floor one, floor one, cos I knew I’d forget it later and spend half the day wandering around the wrong level suspecting car theft and awkward phone calls to guards and a haype of forms to fill out and no way home.

Emerged at Cassidy travel, people everywhere, souls purgatorial drifting through the commercial river. There was a place selling a can of coke and a pizza for 6 something but I kept going. Out onto Parnell Street, passed Chapters and around by O’Connell Street. People like lost stars in the cosmos, floating around, waiting for buses, people, something. Spotted an all you can eat buffet for 12.99 and made a mental note to attack it later. Passed out the GPO where Liam Neeson tried to blow it up one time and decided to go to Easons. Haven’t darkened their door for about 20 years. They take over 52% from the price of a book just to stock it on their walls so I was in a sorta boycott mode. Then again, I could be missing something crucial, some access to great literature unavailable anywhere else. I had an image of a warm shop, with some kind of government chairs where you could read, research, enjoy the smell of papyrus and dear coffee from an overpriced machine.

There was a woman smoking on the steps on the way in, white shirt, black leather pants, curly raven hair, maybe some picture of a film she saw one time and here she is now living it out in the big city. The doors came back with a cheap whoosh and I was in, underwhelmed and confused. Where’s all the big shtuff ambience? Isn’t this the flagship store? More like just another newsagent that sold books in fancy shelves. Not too sure where the 52% was going. Asked the security guard was I in the right one. He told me there was two more. One on Nasaau Street and another on St. Stephen’s Green. “But this is the biggest one…”

Gave it another whirl around and said fuck this. Back to the Chinese. It was busy with gluttons trying to look fancy, like they had culinary taste and experience, but they really just wanted the brown shlop with a fistful of chips and the ignorant fried rice. I paid your wan and got a plate and stocked up.Not sure what kinda mongrels they were cooking but twas dire stuff and I ate anyway. Nearly time to get the car now aswell. What floor did I say again…1 or 2…..?

The Road to Getting Published. #1 –

The agent liked my novel – El Niño. Original voice. Great story. All that. Reckoned we’d have it on the shelves in every major bookshop in the next 18 months. We’d get an upfront fee and then a percentage of the sales. He’d be taking 10% of everything. The shops would want a cut of 52.5% and the Publishing House would take 40% of everything left. There’d be handling charges, design costs, PR and Marketing and delivery costs.

Think about it like this, he said, your book sells for €10 in a shop and you’re lucky to get 10 cents. But you’re getting your name out there, recognised as an author. That’s priceless for your career going forward.

Either way, it didn’t happen. The publishers didn’t want to take a risk with a new writer. The big hits these days are Cook books, Travel Writing, Non fiction and Sports. None of that here, Mick.

‘So what do I do?’

‘We’ll just have to see how it goes.’

The worst thing you can do as a writer is wait to ‘See how it goes….’ It’s a euphemism all the untalented cowboys use to hang on to your work in case it accidentally becomes a hit and they can claim a percentage. Meanwhile, your most creative years are sailing by in dead hope. I respected the agent for trying but after that: To hell with them.

Time to move on.

Found a crowd in Dublin. They’d publish it. No problem. How does a fee of €2,000 sound? We’ll design it, format it, print it and give you 400 copies for yourself. Normally, this would be a risk but I was running my own theatre company too and I knew I could sell the books after the Plays. Go for it, lads.

They had a designer and he’d suggest cover ideas or you could provide an image yourself and he’d do the edits. It’s a Crime Novel so I wanted something catchy to the eye, something that tells the story. My mate Tom Page was living in Florida and he knew a gun fanatic so I asked him to take some pictures and send them over. Eventually we got the right one and I sent it to the publishers. After some debate on the blurb and some final checks on the manuscript, it was ready to go. The whole process took about four weeks and, when finished, it looked like this:

I sold all the books for €10 in about a month. That covered the cost of publishing and returned a profit a lot greater than 10 cents a copy. It also vindicated the quality of the novel. For all the people that tell you to your face they like your work – the only true measure is what people will pay for it. If they’re buying it, then you have something.

Traditional publishers/Editors/Agents will scream at you to stay away from Indie Publishing. They call it “Vanity” or “Desperation” or “Outright Scams.” This is because you’re cutting them out. Circumventing their business model. Making them obsolete. Of course they’re abhorred. Saying that, if you do publish yourself it’s essential to do your own research. Order a book from the company you’re considering. Test it for quality. Ask yourself: Is this the experience I want my readers to have when buying my book?

Eventually, my relationship with this company did go wrong. But it was ultimately a positive thing. I discovered CreateSpace.

I’ll talk about this in another post tomorrow. Meanwhile, feel free to check out my published work at the links below.