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Journal of Distraction - by Michael Kelly

Week 1 - Sunday

Sunday spoiled completely by the knowledge that I have to work again next week. Spurred by this dreary fact I set to work today trying to get the self-publishing thing sorted out once and for all. Then I can become rich and retire to a heavily defended island somewhere and try to get the genetically-engineered army of supermen thing sorted out once and for all.

Except that won't happen and if I ever manage to publish the book I will be reduced to flogging it out of the back of a van at flea markets. Attempting to self-publish is the single most stupid and self-destructive thing I have ever done in my life, and that's saying something. The crucial mistake is that I told people I was going to do it, and when they said 'How cool' casually said 'Oh, it's pretty easy, I don't know why more people don't do it', and I announced it on my website, so if I back out now all the village children will dance round me and chant 'All talk and no do, eats chalk and smells of poo.'

If I could give one piece of advice to a young person just starting out in the world, it would be, never tell people you are going to do anything. No. No. Not even that. It would be, never ever bother your arse trying to do anything ever. It just isn't worth it. The world was carved up long before you were born, and the only way to get any of the crumbs off the table is to grovel to the people who are already made and make nice to people you really want to bayonet in the belly.

I will spare you the long list of my grievances in this matter. In a nutshell, the basic problem with self-publishing is that printers and distributors are even more evil than publishers and agents. I do not say this lightly. If a publisher is a pimp, a printer is a wholesale sex-slaver. If agents are all child molesters, book distributors machine-gun school playgrounds. Hammerhead sharks get creeped out by the dead eyes of distributors.

The printers. I can't find anyone to take my money. I can't get anyone to even return my mails. Big ones, small ones, they are uniformly rude lazy bastards who hate the sight of books. But that doesn't matter, I'll find one eventually if I have to go to China. But that's irrelevant, because as things stand now, if I did get it printed I couldn't get it in the shops, because I can't get anyone to store and deliver it. Now there are distributors who advertise as specialising in small independent publishers, but in their terms that's anyone with a turn-over of a million quid a year, no less.

So I can't get a distributor with my five thousand privately printed copies. It turns out what I need is a 'Fulfilment Service'. They'll represent, I don't know, several dozen smaller publishers, and they'll band together and then maybe that way they'll be worthy of the attention of the distributors, who may deign to handle their books.

Only, it turns out I can't just write to the Fulfilment People and say 'Oy, how much to deliver my book.' They have to vet it. They ask to see projected sales figures. They have to decide if the title will fit their profile.

You understand? I'm having to pitch my book to warehouse-owners. No, not even that, people who are tenuously allowed to use a corner of a warehouse. I'm getting rejection letters from the people I'm trying to hire to load the thing onto a fucking lorry.

I'm going to end up... I'm going to end up dealing with some bloke who has a fucking shady meat locker on a wharf somewhere... I'm going to end up down the docks trying to pitch 'The Roy Orbison In Clingfilm Novel' to some fucking gangster... fog drifting in off the river, the mournful hoot of tugboats, from the next room intermittent screams and the sound of a grown man crying...

'There should be more tits in this book, sunshine. Wrapping Roy Orbison is creepy. He should wrap some naked birds, naa'da mean?'

'Anything. You. Fucking. Say. Sir.'

'And this German bloke, too polite, he should stab some fuckers in the head, naa'da mean, I like that, me. I remember one time...' Horrendous anecdote.

'Oh what a lovely story sir, may I use that?'

'If you want your tongue cutting out... One other thing, put more K words in. I like the letter K me, it makes me happy.'

' ...'

'All wight, my son, welcome to the family. We'll dump yer books in the corner there, next to the kidnap victims... that's right...'

'I hate to put you to any trouble, but... worried about these decomposing bodies dripping on them... if you could throw a tarpaulin over them... Waterstone's... ridiculously fussy about the condition of books... like to avoid bloodstains... and the cocaine everywhere...'

'Don't you worry about that sunshine, our sales team are second to none... fucking Waterstone will be begging and pleading to take your book... Every shop will be devoted exclusively to selling your book...'

Ha! Yes! That would be the plus side. They would roam the country breaking people's arms unless they stock it... Not just bookshops, fishmongers, haberdashers... St. Paul's cathedral... 'This isn't a bookshop...' 'It is now, you ___.'

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