Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Author's Side of the Story

My name is Joseph D’Lacey.
I am pale, unfit, anxious and have personal hygiene issues. The arse-covering bit of my jeans wears out with unsettling regularity. I can’t remember the last time someone nice came to visit me but my mum (and my gerbil*, Roy Batty) consider me a deity.
I should explain:
I’m a professional author, which means I make enough money from writing to starve to death several times a year. On the plus side, no one ever tells me what to do (except editors, but they don’t count as people) and I get to spend several hours a day staring out of the window. Also, when I go to parties, which I never do, I get to impress people by casually dropping the fact that I’m ‘published, you know’.
Why am I telling you this?
I’m telling you because, despite the inevitable cynicism that arises when writing long-term, I love my job.
Recently, I’ve loved it even more because things are changing. After years of submitting work, chasing agents and editors, and tripping over myself to be noticed, publishers have started to approach me.
I know. Miracle, right?
One of those publishers is Simon Key of Timeline books, co-owner of The Big Green Bookshop and all-around good bloke. By now, you’ll know the circumstances under which we first met, so when Simon emailed to say he wished to publish my work, I was chuffed to bits - he wanted to bring out a collection of my short fiction! When Simon mentioned this, the bits of my chuff flew even farther apart.
Some time later, I sent the following text to Simon:
To which there came no reply. A few days afterward, Simon admitted he had no idea what the text related to.
“It’s a title,” I said. “For the book.”
There was an appreciative silence.
We decided to talk about other things for a while before circling back to titles.
“So what do you think of Splinters?” I asked.
“What? Oh. It’s fine. I mean, it’s really, really an okay title. You know, for a book. About wood.”
Is it a coincidence that Timeline Books’ HQ is in Wood Green? I think not. Was it mere happenstance that that very morning, I’d got a tiny sliver of bamboo stuck under my fingernail? I’ll leave it with you. Either way, we came up with about ten more titles and whittled it (see what I did there?) down to four. At which point the genius that is Simon Key said:
“We should let the public decide.”
And then it was my turn to say:
Well, I thought Oh. What I actually said was:
“That’s a brilliant idea, Simon. Have I mentioned before that you’re a genius?”
And the rest, as they so often say these days, is interactive publishing history.
Next time:
If a book’s cover is two slices of organic wholemeal tin-loaf, what should the filling be?

* I don’t own a Gerbil. I made that bit up. The rest of this article is entirely factual.

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