My new book is out, and I should be over the moon but I’m not. I don’t have that euphoric feeling that I see with other writers on Twitter when they have a book coming out. Why is that?

Experience for one thing. I now have 9 books on Amazon which is a somewhat skewed figure because I have only written 4 novels and a children’s book. Each time I have been unable to attract an agent or obtain a traditional contract. I am not a celebrity and I have no following, no guaranteed sales. Self-publishing is all the rage these days, but it is not for me because I don’t have the design skills or the marketing skills. I just want to write and let other people do the other stuff, but let’s face it, that has been the case since 1980 when I first sat down with a notebook to write the first page of ‘Trance’. That is what I wanted to do with my life since I was 17 or 18 but instead I have had to work 44 years in the insurance industry. This book was my last chance to find that break. It feels like it has failed already even though this is only Day 15 since publication.

This story has been a long time coming. I first had the idea of a killer sending out clues to a crossword puzzle in my 20’s. In fact, I did create the whole puzzle back then – the grid and all the clues. I was so demoralised by the lack of success of ‘Trance’ – being £4,700 in the hole to pay for it – that I never started it back then. I had many false dawns over the years on this one but when I really started in on it as a project in about 2018, I still had the puzzle but had lost all the clues so had to start again. I should be feeling proud to have got it out there at last but demoralisation is the overriding feeling again.

Of course, things are not helped by my diagnosis of chronic fatigue because I am tired and fuzzy practically all the time. It is a wonder I got it out at all. This is also affecting my enthusiasm for finding ways to market it. Having said that, compared to 2012 when ‘Rewind’ and ‘Trouble Cross’ went on Amazon with no promotion at all, there has been announcements on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook this time, yet sales are worse.

I don’t know what I was expecting except that I felt I had more of a base this time. I have 700 followers on Twitter- not many by most standards but more than I thought would be interested in following me – and of these there are over 200 regulars in the Wordle League I cofounded and comanage. The firm I work for has 600 employees and most of these would be on Linked In, although most do not personally know me. Let us suppose though there is a pool of 400 on Twitter / Linked In. Reading up on stats the other day I saw that 43% of people read as a pastime and 33% of readers are into crime and thrillers. Doing the maths on these figures would give me an initial potential sales count of 54. In 15 days ‘The Puzzle’ has sold 12 and 4 of those are down to me.

I don’t think the KDP pricing policy helps on the paperbacks. As the author has to pay the printing costs out of their commission and Amazon still want their 40% on top there is a minimum set price and then one has to add a bit to earn anything. Of course, whatever you add on Amazon get 40% of that too.

In other news, while all this demoralisation is going on, I nearly break my kneecap. I had dropped my car off for an MOT / service and was running for the bus. I tripped, went flying and was hit for six. Both knees, both hands, chin, and nose. I was groggy and on ground for a minute. Then I got up and a lady gave me some wipes to clean up. I declined someone’s offer to call an ambulance. I felt weird but wandered up to the bus-stop. Whilst waiting I felt dizzy, my vision was closing in and I felt sick. I sat down and got through it. Then after I got on the bus it happened again, but again I sat through it. I managed to get home by myself.

I washed all my lacerations but when applying antiseptic noticed that my left knee had a golf ball like swelling on top of it. I hobbled the half mile to the minor injuries unit and on x-ray they thought my patella was fractured and gave me a splint, plus head injury information. (When I asked how I could walk if I had a fracture I was told that the patella is not a loading bearing bone.) A few days later the facture clinic emailed me to say it was not a fracture just soft tissue damage. Same prognosis though except instead of the splint keeping my leg straight now I should try to bend it as soon as I could. Trying to work with my knee raised higher than my hip has not been comfortable.

There has been another consequence. I could not drive so could not pick up my car. Then I find the battery has been damaged due to lack of use. That is where my sad life comes into it. No one to see and nowhere to go. It had only done 5313 miles in 6 years. To pay for a new battery would have been a waste because it would have gone the same way. There was no choice but to sell my car. Another wrench. Having to sell your car not for financial reasons but because one’s life is so pathetic you don’t use it enough.

Anyway, things are what they are, and to make matters worse United are the Premier League laughingstock. It is funny that things started to go wrong at the end of 2013 – high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, chronic back trouble – and I have been unable to take solace in football because Ferguson had left by then and they have been getting worse ever since.

Life is a puzzle. Will ‘The Puzzle’ have a life or is it dead already?






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