Since becoming a publishing phenomenon, I’ve broadly committed to reading several books by self-published authors, in a show of desperate camaraderie. It’s a lonely old business out there and we need to stick together. I haven’t looked at my Amazon dashboard since T-Minus Zero and launch. Why would I? It’s plainly clear to me that my book is floating in a constellation just out of view of the Hubble Telescope, a billion light years away. In a billion light years someone will read it, share it with someone who will do likewise – and it will become an interstellar success. But I’ll be long gone by then so I won’t give a shit.
In 1977 NASA launched the Voyager spacecraft which as I write, has recently left our Solar System and traversed across the boundaries of our own local neighbourhood into interstellar space. Onboard is a curriculum of life on this pale blue dot, as organised and agreed by Carl Sagan and NASA engineers. The idea being that if aliens were ever to come across Voyager they would be able, from all available clues, to plot where in the universe we humans float, transmit messages to us at just the right wavelength, and learn a little of our culture. For all the hope however, those NASA scientists never for one second expected some living form to discover our message in a bottle. And that as a metaphor, is what self-publishing on Amazon is – it’s like forty two years ago sending a rocket ship across the universe with a Chuck Berry song onboard and expecting an alien message back fifteen minutes later from Johnny Three Eyes in the Barnard 33 area of the south Alnitak region of Orion’s Belt, or as it is better known, the Horsehead Nebula saying ‘Hey, tanks for the music Carl, it be wobbly great.’
With hindsight and instead, you promise to read a couple of books – which on download, you find are longer than War and Peace and the Bible combined, in genre that just aren’t your gig at all. And you discover this; every self-published author is doing the same, climbing over each other on the ladder of hope one rung at a time, and presumably not reading the book either – because how can you, where is the time?
So you pretend. “Hi Samantha from Utah, I absolutely loved the part where the gooseberry eyed twelve breasted gumble weed from the planetary system NGC 7293, had writhing mucus-coated sex with six-mouthed, six-armed Captain David Wimslow-Smith of the spaceship ‘BJ’s4VER’. What imagination. Epic stuff”
Tomorrow I shall leave Paris for an annual sojourn to Spain, and I shall take these downloads with me and I shall promise myself and my new self-publishing author friends, in an orgy of self-flagellation, that I will read and review – but I suspect that may very well be a ‘tapas and rioja’ dependent commitment.
Sorry Samantha from Utah!
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