EX-RATED is a book I started writing in the toilet of the Bakers Oven in Cambridge 5 years ago. That day I should have been handing out survey’s on behalf of a bus company, probably National Express. Instead I binned the surveys after 20 minutes, traipsed across town and whilst parking my breakfast, starting jotting down a short story. From nowhere.
The book is 104 pages, a novella really. At the time I was living in a 2-bed apartment on the Braintree high street. I had built my own bar with the help of some friends, and I’d sit at that bar, read Bukowski, get drunk and write. (I was heavily influenced by Bukowski. Even the dedication in my book ‘this is a work of fiction and dedicated to nobody’ was lifted from the Post Office. Sadly that’s where the similarities end). One weekend my friends stood me up and I remember thinking ‘good, I can get drunk and write the book’. I was pleasantly detached from all things.
Of course the book is a disaster. 104 pages of confessional melancholic dribble. I didn’t proof read it, I remember no publisher wanted to go near it. Though one literary agent called the first chapter ‘profound’. I sent him a second chapter and never heard back.
With no one backing the book, I decided to self-publish the thing. I got 100 copies published, most of which are in a box somewhere in storage. I handed some out to a few people. I remember one of my friends asked ‘What the fuck is it? What’s with the binned punctuation?‘ This girl, (an ex-girlfriend) also once referred that dating me was like ‘dating bad ham’. I wish I had put that in the book.
I posted the book to a friend, he said ‘there’s a spelling mistake in the first paragraph’. Bollocks I thought. I’ll just pretend this thing never happened.
But it was a cathartic experience. I expunged a lot of horrible crap. AND I proved to myself that I can actually finish something. It is a book, I don’t give a crap what anyone says. I’ve written a damn book and its in my hand. I’ve also written two full screenplays, that are just sitting on my hard drive. They’re probably a lot better and easier to read than this dribble, but to me they’re just taking up binary on a disc.
I would recommend self-publishing, but it cost me about £400-£500. I’m afraid I can’t tell you who I went through, not even the publisher wanted to put their stamp on this thing. Definitely try and crowd fund it if you’re thinking of doing it. There’s even a publisher that will crowdfund for you called Unbound. Or start a blog and ask people you trust for honest opinions. Never write a full book, just a couple of chapters, and then ask around, start door knocking for literary agents. Someone will know someone, it’s a small world. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m in the process of putting another book together. Nothing like the last, thank God. Watch this space. Or don’t.
At the time of writing this I’m nearly 3 months clean from alcohol. If you’re thinking of giving up the drink then check out how I did it on the My Sobriety page.
Did you self-publish a book? What was the process like for you? Leave a comment in the box below.