Almost a year ago, I spoke at the Bangkok Literary Festival about Five Stop Story and the state of the publishing industry. Other speakers included Ken Hom, Stephen Leather and Christopher Moore and I felt a little out of my depth. How would people respond to me, an unpublished writer who had just set up a short story competition?
When I was researching my talk I looked into the success of Amanda Hocking and how she had achieved it. I remember thinking, “that’s amazing, but surely I’m too late to ride the back of that bandwagon?” She had started publishing her books in April 2010. Since then millions of authors have followed her path. I told myself it wouldn’t work today. Additionally, and more importantly, my book wasn’t ready.
After my own talk was over I went to watch Stephen Leather’s talk. He told of how he made his book a bestseller by releasing it on Christmas Day 2010, when loads of people had just been given a Kindle for Christmas. It shot up the charts. Again, I was inspired by his story, but again I felt that that boat was now just a spot on the horizon. I’d missed the opportunity again.
Now, I’m starting to look at self-publishing again and this time my book isn’t so far off. It just needs one more edit from me, a proof-read then a professional edit and I’m good to go. This time I’m not going to let myself believe I’ve missed any boats. There are always more boats. The trick is not to watch the ones that have left but to look to the horizon to spot the ones that are sailing in.
It was sad to hear the news this weekend that Amy Winehouse had died. Partly because her life was cut short so young and partly because the path she was on almost made the outcome almost inevitable.
It seemed the “curse of 27” had struck again and Amy Winehouse added her name to a long list of stars who lived hard and died young, all at the same age:
Kurt Cobain. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison…
But 27 is a strange age for everyone, not just multi-million selling musicians. The fact that these musicians achieved so much before they even reached 27 makes ordinary people seem – well- even more ordinary.
Up until your mid-twenties your horizons are generally widening. You go to uni and you suddenly have the freedom from the restrictions of your parents. You get a job and you have your own money which you can spend recklessly and at will, without a hint of guilt. You have the freedom to flit around from job to job, location to location, trying different lives on for size.
But at 27 you suddenly realise that certain options are no longer available to you. Your options are narrowing. It’s time to decide what to do with your life.