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Extras (Or I expose myself in public)

Posted on Mar 18, 2014 by John Scotcher
For the past couple of months I have been thinking long and hard about whether I should release my first novel 'Extras' on Kindle.  I have finally come to a decision.

Perhaps you'd think that I would be desperate to get 'Extras' out there. I poured hundreds hours of my life into its creation and now it's out of print, I'm confident the copyright has reverted to me; certainly in the contract (I still have) from the publishers there is no mention of their retention of copyright. Anyway the contract doesn't even cover electronic publishing. In early 2003 the E-reader was still very much a thing of the future.

The ability for an author to self publish has changed hugely in the past four or so years. This has been primarily due to the e-publishing revolution. An author can now publish their work on a shoestring.

Of course, if one is going to do it properly one still has to consider budget for marketing and so on, but printing costs are no longer a necessary expense. Though with the growth of print-on-demand services, it's perfectly possible to provide a physical version of a book for readers to purchase too without any initial outlay.

So the logistics of re-releasing the book are not really a concern. I know I can, which leaves the real question as to whether I should. And therein lays the quandary I have spent hours debating about.

If I were to start this paragraph with my initial thought, it would have read, “it's not that 'Extras' is a bad book, but...” That would have been a lie. Extras is a bad book.

I wrote it by effectively throwing up the story over the page as it came to me, with no preparation or idea where it was going. It's actually a miracle that it remains not only quite readable but occasionally quite hard to put down. Imagine if you will, a series of entertaining segments, close enough together that you can get through the bits that try too hard in between.

Not only has the style and quality of my writing changed (I hope, for the better), but “The Boy In Winter's Grasp” has a story that works. Extras, on the other hand, misses a cohesive plot by a mile, briefly hits a stride somewhere around the middle, and then slows to a stumble as it reaches the end.

And like so many first novels, it is semi auto-biographical. As such, it is a self indulgent reflection of a younger, more embarrassing version of me. This means rereading any of it is, for me, a cringe worthy experience I could do without. As you may be able to tell, I am not a fan.

However, there are some very good reasons to release it. The first is a practical one. I need to get an experience of how to put a book together for Kindle (and other formats). If I am going to get any of it wrong, I'd rather do it with Extras.

Secondly, once the book is out there, I can use it as a practice run to use the Amazon marketing tools and see what works and what doesn't. I initially considered releasing it for free, but if I am going to do it, I will give it a price – if only to practice the discount system and immediately reduce it to free.

There is one good thing about the way I wrote it. The most uncomfortable moments are a series of flashbacks – I can only apologise – that have very little bearing on the rest of the story and sit entirely in their own chapters. Thus I will be able to take an axe to them without anyone ever missing their presence. No one ever needs to read that level of self indulgence again.

So, you can see how I have managed to persuade myself that putting it out there is a good idea. If I can get at least a couple of reviews out of it (I'll certainly be reviewing it and it will not be pretty) then it may help to give me a little juice as an author when the main event starts later in the year.

I'll have to include an author's note at the start to warn any potential reader that they will never get back the hours they may be about to waste. I'll also advise them, that instead of reading Extras, their other option will be to simply turn to the back of the book. Which brings me to the last reason to release it.

I'm going to use that trick that I've seen in so many books – to include an introductory chapter from my new book. So, dear reader, you heard it here first. The first place that you will be able to read any of “The Boy In Winter's Grasp” will be at the back of the kindle release of Extras.

So, much as it will feel like I am standing naked in the middle of a very crowded room, it looks like I am doing it. Take a deep breath, John. Ok. Ready. Extras will be released on Kindle on May 1st 2014. God help us.   


"And like so many first novels, it is semi auto-biographical" Just to be different, it's my second novel that is semi-autobiographical...
I think when its a second novel, one can avoid all the pitfalls of self indulgence in semi auto-biography, Tom. Knowing your work, I am sure you will. :-)


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