Thor Noggson, the 18th century Icelandic explorer, achieved fame and fortune when he set off to find the North Pole without his compass only to discover, in a roundabout way, the source of the upper Nile…

He summed up his approach to life in the words, “It’s easy to build a ship; keeping it afloat is the difficult bit…”

For me, writing a novel is relatively easy, despite the long time scale. The hard part is getting people to take you seriously by reading it.

I’ve already written two psychology books, but my experiences of the traditional publishing industry did not inspire confidence. After publicising my first book by speaking at two international conferences, the publisher went bankrupt just as the book came out – or rather, didn’t come out. So I then spent a lot of time apologising to irritated professors from obscure places. It took several years to get the rights back from this publisher – he had relocated to Florida, presumably to avoid the lawyers. No, I’m not making this up. Eventually, I brought out a second book, which did quite well for a year. Then the company was taken over by a large American corporation who listed all their British authors in very small print at the back of the catalogue, and I vanished back into obscurity again.

As for the world of fiction, it’s a bit like the world of beer in the 1970’s. A few large companies (breweries) dominate the market and forcibly market a rapidly decreasing number of authors (keg beers). Plus, I don’t tick many boxes. I’m not thirty-something and I’m not a celebrity gardener, soap actress, or failed politician. I’m not an Oxbridge graduate, and I’m not in the masons… putting it bluntly, I don’t know anyone in the world of fiction. JK Rowling was rescued from a bin by a junior assistant who persuaded her boss to take another look. I decided my chances of being rescued from a bin were decidedly slim, since the economic problems mean that most of the junior assistants are now on the dole…

As a reasonably competent DIY man and fixer of anything that goes wrong, I thought, well, publishing can’t be that difficult, can it? It’s not rocket science… is it?

…to be continued…


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