My book died last week.
The funeral was this morning; it was a sombre affair, everybody dressed in black, the chief mourners sniffling into their handkerchiefs and telling me what a crying shame it was, for something so young to be taken so soon….
Some of them blamed Amazon; they said if Amazon was kinder to indie books none of this would have happened….
Others said it was Google and the sneaky way they exclude erotic authors from their search engines….
But I knew what they were all thinking.
And they were right.
It was my fault my book was dead, I was always so damned busy, I didn’t spend enough time with it, especially during the early days, I didn’t nourish it, tend to it, I didn’t take it around to all the right places, show it to all the right people, I wasn’t proud enough, I wasn’t the parent I could have been, and now, because of me, my book was dead.
God, I wish I could take it all back.
I remember my book’s birth, the day I published it, a sunny day in late August last year, I felt on top of the world, my new-born book was brimful of energy, raring to go, buoyed up by a parent’s love, convinced it could change the world, and maybe it could have, but I never gave it the chance, when initial sales slowed down I began to lose interest, I stopped taking my book to all the swank places in town, I stopped showing it off to my friends, I stopped telling every stranger what a great little read it was, I starved it of love and attention, the two things a book needs to grow.
And then Wednesday last week I went to check on my book and there it was; cold and grey and lifeless, I don’t know when it stopped breathing, maybe some time during the night – there was no sign of discomfort, no sign of stress, it looked like it simply gave up the ghost.
I tried everything, Twitter mouth-to-mouth, Facebook adrenaline shot, I tried Amazon CPR, Christ, I was so desperate I even took out the Smashwords defibrillator, but it was no use, my book was gone.
We buried it this morning.
I was asked to say a few words on behalf of the deceased. I was going to quote “Stop the Clocks” by W. H. Auden, but somehow the words stuck in my throat. Looking down into the open casket, staring at the cover of my book, I couldn’t help thinking how peaceful it looked lying there, like a little digital angel. I hope there’s a heaven for unloved books and I hope my book is up there right now, and I hope it finds it within its heart to forgive me because I honestly don’t think I can forgive myself.
I think of all those orphaned books out there, abandoned, unloved, unwanted – they didn’t live up to their parent’s expectations, they weren’t this instant return on investment, they weren’t the next big thing on Amazon, and so there they lie, languishing on websites across the net, waiting for some kindly reader to discover them by chance, to breathe life into them, to give them a glowing five-star review, just so their parents can see they always had it in them.
But the sad truth is their parents don’t care anymore, they have new books to look after now, or perhaps they gave up on the idea of raising books altogether, maybe they’ve gone back to their day jobs, who knows, all I know is my book is dead and it was my own damned fault.
If you’re an expectant author and any day now you’re going to drop a bouncing baby book, I want you to promise me you won’t make the mistakes I made, I want you to promise me you’ll look after that book, that you’ll stand by it through thick and thin, that you’ll scream its name from the highest rooftops, and spend time with it, please, God, spend time with it, correct its grammar, smooth down its tussled plot lines, comfort it when it trips over a one-star review, or cuts itself on a barbed comment, change its cover regularly, show it you love it, you care about it, and I promise you, when that book grows up to be the multi-award winning sensation you always knew it could be, you’ll look back on this conversation and thank me.
My book died last week.
Please don’t let it have died in vain.