He smiled as he viewed the contents of his library, “how would somebody try to explain his life in relation to his book case,” he thought, with books ranging from Dan Abnett and Graham Masterton to Marcel Proust and Carl Sagan. The range of his books were one of the reasons some of his work remained well liked, his readers never knew what they may get and got used to the idea of stories from Science-Fiction to semi-autobiographic appearing in their inbox, he had been told his stories were readable and entertaining, mainly because as a writer he became the vessel of the story and never forced a story to go where the characters didn’t want to go, this lead to some unusual story lines but no story had been accused of boring, his readers told him.
Tonight, he decided to face his demons and tell his close friends about his worries and to this end he sent them invites to an informal evening of talk and drinks; he intended to maintain a guided conversation, but he realised the talk was more likely to go in the direction of his books and the characters would dictate the direction not the writer.
Some of the friends had been his friend for years and others became close friends very quickly as the ease of chatting helped them get to know and like him; even so, opening out was not something he thought he would enjoy doing even to close friends as this made him face his worries head-on, especially as some of the friends had made progress in getting contracts and he felt left out for not being given another chance after the offer from “Dangerous Liasons.”
At the time the choice seemed a good one to take as the publishers printed erotica and he didn’t wish to be recognised only for erotica; he had no qualms writing erotic love stories but the firm lacked boundaries and this worried him; also as he had worked with his friend Andrea Peacock for over a year and he didn’t wish to change his cover designer, partially because as an Indie author he couldn’t afford to pay for covers and he didn’t like the way their covers would display his work; his work was erotic love stories not pure uninhibited sex parading as erotica. To him, the story was more vital than the sex.
Hindsight made him question this decision but he thought another factor in him not getting a chance to have a contract was he beat one of his critics in a contest and the person sabotaged his winning story by rigging the contest out of spite, the point being to ensure his story didn’t get 3rd prize and get noticed, to this end the person succeeded. He pondered whose victory had it been? He beat the person in a fair contest, but they sabotaged his chance at a contract.
There is no shame in being an independent author, many of the top writers made the choice to split with their publishers in order to get a higher percentage of the money per sale, it had been his life-long wish to see his work on a shelf in a book store, having somebody to publish the book added the significance he told himself, all those years ago, but in the days of internet and e-books; publishing the book himself was his best hope to be read.
He walked around the room pondering all the dreams he had been forced to release and wonder where to go next. One of his dreams had been to get a story in an online magazine ran by a book club from who he got books; to see his name along side the likes of Dan Abnett, James Swallow and Graham McNeil would be worth any price, alas, it was not to be.
At some stage in his writing something went wrong; he couldn’t put a time or story to the exact point when this happened, but he formed a good idea what the answer may be, when he ended the first Chronicles of Mark Johnson series he said to his closest friends, “I enjoyed writing these, but I don’t think they’ll sell; they are too way out for the usual readers to understand,” and he was right. Despite winning an award, the book only sold five copies and they were between publishing and been given the award; after the award the book failed to sell and the highly rated follow-up story did even worse. One of his most popular ghost stories-“The Old Church ghosts”-which has four variations proved to be another failure on the sales floor, despite its on line popularity not one copy of the e-book sold and the irony of the joke, although the story remains popular this is the story he never liked from the time he finished it.
When asked about his strong dislike for the story, he would comment, “I think I let my readers down because this is a shorter story than the previous two and the story didn’t read well to me,” his readers could not assure him of the greatness of the work, no matter how they tried; this made the failures of Chronicles even harder to take as they had been his pet project and he saw himself as Mark Johnson; to add to the agony of the failures of the books, he had to ask favours from friends which he would never be able to repay and no matter how often they told him they did it out of kindness, he still felt awful about doing asking favours.