Now, I don’t want to be a douchbag but I must warn you of something: the insane levels of popularity you will face when your first book comes out.

You will hear from people you thought were dead, people you haven’t seen or spoken to in twenty years, people you never thought would look you up ever again, will suddenly fill up your friend requests, Facebook wall and inbox.

Some of them will offer congratulations.

These are sweet and delightful people. Hang onto them.

Others will make a few jokes, ask if any of your characters are based on them, insist on a pint for the exploitation of their foibles and that’ll be that.

Fine and dandy, not a problem.

Some people, however, will only make contact because they want a publishing contract of their own and see you as their route in. Now, that might sound horribly cynical but I am speaking from experience.

On the day my first novel came out – I shouted it from the rooftops, as was my wont, and a friend I hadn’t seen since I was thirteen asked if he could get details for my publishing house because he’d been working on a kids’ book.

He was pretty disappointed that I was self-published and therefore, a) had done all the work of it myself and b) couldn’t simplify the process of finding an agent, a publishing house, and international notoriety for him.

A few months later, I got a friend request from someone I hadn’t seen in decades. Very quickly, she DM’d me.

No ‘Hey, how are you?’ – none of that special stuff. She went straight in, ‘Can you get me a meeting with someone from your publishing house?’

This is the literary equivalent of a dick pic.


It’s similar to when you follow someone new on Twitter and they immediately send you a link to their shop.

A ‘hello’ costs nothing.

Anyway, having explained, once again, that I was self-published but – could talk her through the process (much as I’m doing in this Writing Tips bit), guess what she did…

She unfriended me.

And then she blocked me.

I look forward to reviewing her books in future.


Only joking. I won’t read her.


No, I’m kidding.

The fact is: yes, there’s an awful lot of work in self-publishing, but you can save yourself the horror of dealing with people who want a free ride into a major publishing house by being up front about it. And even if you want to see it as a stepping stone – publish a few books, make a few sales, get yourself noticed, and then find a major publishing house, that’s fine too.

However, if there are people who want you to do the work for them (and I can near as dammit guarantee there will be), it might be best to come up with a good response before you find yourself on the spot.

If you do have an agent, a multi-book deal, famous friends and the possibility of a film, more people will come out of the woodwork. Hopefully, by then, you’ll have someone to answer the phone for you. There’s a damn good chance I’ll be available.

I have a lovely telephone voice.