A week or so ago I emailed my agent, Matthew Hamilton of Aitken Alexander Associates. In the email, I suggested that we shouldn’t be submitting the Pitching the World book proposal to publishers for a while. There’s too much going on, I told him, I’m trying to write and self-publish a book over the next month or so, I have a well to render, and I have a poker column starting soon. That’s what I said.
What an email. What an idiot. Readers, when all you’ve ever really wanted is an agent who believes in you and who works for an agency that is one of the best in the country, this is precisely the sort of email you should be sending. Get an agent and give it a whirl. Tell him or her not to try and get you an advance. Casually mention that you’re self-publishing. Be a prick.
It works. Last night, Matthew Hamilton emailed me back, saying that he was holding fire on my submission but in the meantime wondered if it was “worth us talking about a book on poker?” I presume that he doesn’t mean that we both read a book on poker and then discuss it, rather that perhaps I should be thinking about writing a book on poker.
Well, why not? Why not write a book on poker? Or rather, why not not write a book on poker? I’m not writing lots of books at the moment – what difference does one more make? Why not not write another one? I can not write lots of books. That said, if we did decide to write a book on poker, it gives me the chance to do my joke.
Me: I told my wife last night that I’ve been asked to write a book about gambling. She was very happy.
Me: What? No. Of course not. For a start we’ve been separated for well over a year…why would you think…? Why would you think I poked her? She’s probably seven or eight months pregnant by now. Did I tell you what happened when I found out she was pregnant? No? Oh, you’ll love this: I spent a whole morning wondering whether or not I should fuck a bear or a tree or a bit of pavement. It was brilliant. Why are you looking at me like that? Have my eyes gone weird?”
It’s a good one, isn’t it?
Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, we weren’t writing books. The book that I’m writing at the moment is currently not being written. I blame Nikola Tesla. Damn him and his interesting life. The other afternoon I was watching a documentary about him and thought, ‘Fuck writing this novella, what you should be doing is writing a graphic novel about Tesla. It’s all there. He came to New York on a boat as an immigrant and died in New York, alone and mad in a hotel room. In between he came up with a bunch of inventions including the radio, wireless communication and some free-for-everyone electricity thing that I’ve just heard about and forgotten. He had a bust up with Marconi, got (figuratively) fucked in the ass by JP Morgan and had a long running feud with that plum Edison over AC vs DC. He had OCD, experienced two nervous breakdowns and saw ghosts. He hung out with Mark Twain. He once sent one of his employees home to change because he didn’t like her clothes. Towards the end of his life he couldn’t bear light or sound. It’s perfect. Or, forget writing a graphic novel – too complicated – write a novella about Tesla. From his point of view. Or about JP Morgan. Could College Bear stretch to 30,000 words? Who invented the radiator? Could I write a novel about them? Or something about my nan? Or her shoes? A life seen through my nan’s shoes? Has anyone written anything from the point of view of a shoe before? If I do write about this on Pitching the World I must remember to include a disclaimer to the effect that such a whistle-stop account of Tesla’s life – whilst vivid – is the product of a poor and selective memory and is liable to be littered with inaccuracies. Also, please please please don’t write anything about your nan’s shoes, you’ll sound demented.”
And on and on and on.
Yes, too much. So today I did something about it. I need to focus on and stick with my initial idea. The pitch below is one of the best I’ve ever sent, despite there being nothing stand-out or show-offy about it. Perhaps that’s why. Or perhaps it is stand-out and show-offy, how am I suppose to know? A day or so ago I was prepared to write a novella about the history of the radiator.
To: Eds at Writer’s Digest (U.S.), Prospect, and Writing Magazine (U.K.)
From: Pitching the World
Subject: Can I Plan, Write, Edit, Publish, Market and Sell A Book in 6 Weeks?
It seems unlikely, doesn’t it, but that’s what I’m trying to do. At the moment, I’m at the writing stage. Towards the end of November I’ll quickly edit the whole thing, then it’s on to typesetting, cover design, ironing out copyright issues and then distribution. Perhaps not in that order. Do you think your readers might be interested in something like this? A step-by-step guide to self-publishing but shot through with dark humour. It will deal with the seemingly pedestrian (what software is the best for page layout, say) to the more unexpected and colourful. For example, what happens when a week or two into your project you decide to write a book about Nikola Tesla instead? How does your agent react when he hears you’re temporarily going down the self-publishing route? How does it feel to write over 10,000 words in a day? That sort of thing.
Assuming the book is a success – and doing so requires a bit of a leap of faith – is this the sort of thing you can imagine running? By success, I’m thinking something that I’m happy with, something that gets reviewed in the national press and something that sells over 500 copies within a week or two of publication. Sounds ambitious, I know, but I reckon I can do it.
Any thoughts? I would be able to file at the end of the year.
All the best,
Pitching the World