So, here's the thing! I published my latest - The Flesh is Weak (Parish & Richards 3) - three days ago and its already riding high in the Police Procedural bestseller lists. As one of my reviewers said, "You've got a good thing going with Parish & Richards", and so it would seem.
An American reviewer likened the partners to Mulder & Scully, while here in England someone compared Parish to RD Wingfield's Jack Frost. I'm flattered, but also pleased, because in terms of these two characters, my influences have been the dry humour of RD Wingfield's Jack Frost and Reginald Hill's Dalziel & Pascoe. I suppose they should be flattered as well, because imitation is a form of flattery - or something like that!
As usual, I stumbled off the track! I was going to talk about the pressure to keep writing. I've had emails - well, you do don't you - saying, "More, we want more, and we want it now!" Well, something along those lines! I mean, it takes me (at least) about 4 months to write a book, and a reader gobbles it up in a couple of days! That's not fair is it? There's a definite inequality between writers and readers. Readers should be rationed (gets fingers out): 300 pages would equate to: 75 pages per month, 19 per week, 2.7 per day. Thus, by the time the reader finishes reading a book, the writer (that would be me) has finished writing the next book! Synchronisation - a well-oiled machine - nice and neat. You gotta love people with OCD!
So, you ask, what's next? There's no rest is there? I mean, I finish one, and you're already asking me for something else! If I said I was taking a couple of weeks off, how would you react? Okay, stop tearing your hair out, I'm not taking any time off - with so many ideas I can't stop writing for two weeks! Here's what I'm going to do, so that you can begin to count the days, plan your itinery, fit in the birth of a baby, or plan a visit to see your loved one in the prison after the riots! 1) I'm going to edit and upload my father-in-law's book - I know, you're saying, "What's in it for me?" Well, nothing really, except you'll have a warm glowy feeling and, if you like historical first-person narratives about the 'good old days' in Bishop's Castle, then you'll enjoy the book. 2) I'm going to finish a collection of short stories and publish that - Hey, call it a bonus for being good and waiting a couple of weeks! 3) Now, I don't know in which order I'm going to do these, so you'll have to be patient - Complete The Timekeeper's Apprentice, which is currently at 26,000 words, so I'm half way through it; Complete a novella (17,500 - 40,000 words) as a prequel to Quigg 1 (without the sex) ready for Xmas because its called The Twelve Murders of Christmas - I know, how spooky is that! And, get cracking on Quigg 3 (Yes, I've heard you all: NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH - And you Americans don't like sex either! What's the world coming to?) The Skulls Beneath Eternity Wharf. But there's so many others I want to write: Footprints of the Dead - I'm really keen to get my hands on this; then there's Triple Helix - a biopunk novel, and... so many.
I received another 5* review for A Life for a Life from a wonderfully discerning person in the USA who thought it was, "A great read from start to finish", and then I got one in the UK by a different fantastically sagacious lady who said it was, "A must for crime fans to enjoy". I would like to say thank you to those fantabulous people. Sometimes the wife and I make utterances to each other, and I happened to utter this morning that - and I don't really want to tempt fate here, so bugger off fate - anyway, I said that I hadn't had a bad review of this book! Maybe the people who hate it - if there are any asylum inmates roaming free out there - just couldn't be bothered to write a review, thinking they'd wasted enough of their life reading the book. Ah well, whatever will be will be!
So, how should I finish this bloggy thing off? I've said how wonderful I am, plugged most of my books and then some, discussed my OCD again - you'll be fed up of hearing about that, I'm sure. I haven't told you about the fire we've just had in the field at the back of our house. Fire brigade came with two engines, my wife was out with the hose and then the camera, dogs were barking, ash fell over everything - and here's me trying to watch Coronation Street and have my dinner. The wife gets excited easily. My excitement lasted all of two minutes and then I became bored.
I was just looking at the bestsller lists - as you do - and I was struck by the different sized book covers. Now, I've mentioned my OCD a couple of times, and how I like to have everything lined up and squared off, ship-shape and Bristol fashion, well these damned covers are all shapes and sizes and don't exude professionality. I mean, it all looks a bit messy, odd, and scrapbook-like. Amazon should stipulate 500 x 750 pixels, don't you think? Anyway, I'm all writ out now, so toodle pip!
Here's the thing! I know a thing or seven about Private Investigators (PI's) so I hired one to find out where all the readers had gone (I had heard that they congregate in hordes in abandoned mines and hotels like vampires, witches and zombies, you know). Now, if you aren't familiar with the term 'reader' let me clarify! Readers walk among (or is that amongst!) us, they even look like us! (Some of them look particularly alluring (good word, or what!) as seen in the picture of my sister on the left, but it's only to tempt us to the dark side). You could (note the past tense here) usually spot them on buses, park benches, in cafe's smoking with crossed legs (before crossing your legs in public places was banned, and quite rightly so in my opinion!) reading a book, a tome, an opus, a paperback or a hardback! Those were the days! You could swivel your head to look at the spine or the cover to find out what they were devouring, strike up a conversation with: "Good book that!", or "How you finding it?", or "He gets the girl, but dies in the end, you know!" I'm sure you get my drift!
But, as I intimated above, sadly those days are disappearing into the annals of history, spiralling down the plughole of progress, whooshing along the waterchute of evolution (and you thought I couldn't write - pah!) Now, they're more difficult to spot. Oh, they're still rubbing shoulders with us, some even have jobs, drink in clubs, lure us to their cosy little nests (I wish) and... (no, we don't want to make this an 18+ blog, do we), some get married, and some even have tiny baby readers. If you look hard enough, you can spot these readers (not the baby ones - we've moved away from them now) sashaying along the sidewalk with an electronic gadget peeping out of their back pockets, or dangling on a rope around their scrawny necks (the gadgets not the readers), or hidden in inside pockets, briefcases, or handbags - these are more difficult to differentiate from normal people. Now, I use the word 'normal' advisedly (whatever that means), because it is one of those 'pick 'n mix' words.
Let me clarify! Normal is usually based on a 'normal distribution' - in other words, if there's a lot of people doing what you're doing, then you're normal. (Now, I don't really need you to tell me what you're doing, because I have a very vivid imagination!) So, drinking booze all night and then driving to work the next day to do heart transplants is considered normal, because... yeah, you've got the hang of it, a lot of people do it - especially heart transplant surgeons. Well, I'm going to shock you now, but I read recently that readers are increasing - I know, a bit scary to say the least - and I'm not one for saying the least. The University of Manchester did a study and found: 1) Women read more than men (that's because they've got more time - dives behind sofa with crash helmet on); 2) A quarter of adults hadn't read a book in the previous 12 months (can you believe that?); 3) In 1975 we read for 3 minutes a day, now we read for 7 minutes (UK and USA) (Unbelievable! Only 7 minutes - have you all got ADHD?); 4) The French (18 minutes) and the Dutch (12 minutes) beat us. (If the French beat us we've got serious problems!) 5) People reading books had increased by 17% (I bet that has also increased with the proliferation of ebooks - I mean, I've proliferated 11 ebooks for goodness sake!); and 6) People read in fragmented time (I knew my short chapters were good for something!)
So, what I'm saying (if I can still remember what I was saying) is that readers are becoming normal! I know - how alien is that. Gradually, we'll all look like zombies (walking round with staring eyes after ten hours reading a book on the Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, etc); We'll only come out at night with translucent (what a wicked word) skin like vampires (after sleeping all day because we stayed awake all night to finish one of my ebooks - sorry, had to get that in somewhere!); Or, cackle like witches (because we've lost our marbles - and our broomsticks - because we stayed awake reading by the light of a full silvery Kindle instead of sleeping).
The world is changing people! You're either with us, or... not with us? There's no inbetweenies, you can't join Species 8472 and live in fluidic space (They were awsome, but I still thought the Borg were better (especially Jerry Ryan in Voyager - was she hot or was she hot? She was hot!). Which moron decided to end Star Trek, and Stargate, and all the other brilliant SciFi series? Now what have we got? Not a damned lot is the answer, and I love SciFi as well). So anyway, what about these readers? I mean, where are they? I've sat here all day watching my book sales stand still.
Even supposing I couldn't count, which I know my previous employer but one (that's the employer before the last one) would swear that I couldn't! I mean, I ask you, what's £5 million between friends? And talking of £5M - oh no, we were talking about book sales. I know its Monday and people are back at work, but can't these Kindles connect to the Internet from anywhere? And if they can, where are all these 17% of additional readers?
So, let's do some numbers again: UK population = 50M, the US population = 250M (we're talking about the potential reading population in both countries now - not the actual population, so don't go leaving comments that I can't count!) Anyway, we've got a combined population of 300M, and 17% of this nice round number is 51M (I hope that's right! I never know whether to multiply 300 x 17% or divide 300 x 17% - Anyway, its around that number because even I can work out that 10% = 30M and 20% = 60M, so 51M sounds about right for 17%. I was never any good at maths at school - In fact, the only thing I excelled at was not being there. Me and my mates (or 'my mates and I' for the puritans) used to spend the day in Mal's shed at the bottom of his garden smoking and just hanging out. Ha - those were the days we learned buggar all!
So, the bottom line is - if the people reading books has increased by 17%, which we now know is 51M, why haven't my ebook sales increased exponentially? Even a small fraction of that - let's say 1M, or 1/17th (that's a fraction isn't it?) - would be appreciated. I'd even settle for a million sales of one book (feel free to choose your one book from those on the right!) Maybe these increased readers went into the Lost Room and disappeared! (Did you watch it? Talk about inspiration - I was inspired! Absolutely brilliant. Whoever thought up that story wants to be lauded as one of the greats - I loved it. I won't tell you what it's about, but after watching it I bought the DVD so I could watch it again at my leisure - that's how good it was). So people, I think we have something just as puzzling as the missing objects from the Lost Room. Where do the readers hide? Answers on a naughty postcard to that Lost Room underneath Amazon's HQ that might contain the answers to where these lost readers have disappeared to, but definitely contains my ebook profits!
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.