IT’S STRANGE BUT true that main-line publishers often have no idea why some books sell while others don’t. In fact the only people who do know are you and I, the readers. We browse, we surf, we talk to each other, we look, we find, we turn the pages and… we like. We really like. Then we buy.
That’s what happened back in 1980 when my first novel Duncton Wood was published. My friends, family and publishers were doubtful, saying: but it’s about moles! No, it’s about love. Maybe, but it’s still about moles. No, it’s about courage and spiritual quest. Yes, but they’re moles! No, it’s about you and I, about what we do, why we do it, what gives meaning to our lives, the universe and everything. But, but, but… surely it’s… It’s a journey and maybe once you start you’ll not want it to end…
Duncton Wood hit the best-seller a few weeks after publication and stayed there for six months. Five more Duncton books followed at which point I was satisfied that the journey was complete. Each book stood alone, as do the phases of our lives; yet each led to the next. When the last book was published in 1993 readers wanted more. But I felt that the characters – and the journey shared with readers – had reached a natural end.
Seven years later, for personal reasons, I did that rare thing for an author and withdrew all the titles from the market. The ‘personal reasons’ were simple: I no longer liked the fact that the big mainstream print publishers were gate-keepers of author creativity, often blocking or effectively suppressing work that authors like me wanted to write and readers like you wanted to read. I felt there must be a different and better way of getting my Duncton stories out there.
There is: crowd-funding and digital. The technology has come of age such that a project like Unbound gives back to authors and readers – and really we are the same – the power to make wonderful books, books to like, books to love. The right time finally for author and reader to work together to make the moles of Duncton Wood, who are really all of us, available in print form again in the right way. Meaning enjoyably, for the different rewards are fun, interesting and worthwhile; and best of all, crowd-funding offers us a chance to meet and explore how to take our journey together forward once more.