My Journey

A post from Mark Porter author of Dogs Chase Cars

Any day now the final part of a process that began almost a year ago will occur. The soft landing of a cardboard packet onto carpet will signify the arrival of my proof copy of Dogs Chase Cars.

When it does, I have no idea how I will feel or react. I have been asked by a number of friends and family how it will feel to hold the book in my hands. Well, I think relief and adrenalin will probably compete for attention. What started as an idea for a character in the mid-nineties is now a book and the process has been in turns exhilarating, surprising, frustrating and incredibly rewarding. I have learned things about myself along the way that I did not know previously. For example, I have learned that my attention span veers between monk-like and goldfish-like when it comes to getting the work done. I have learned that caffeine fuels, alcohol hinders. I have also learned that my own particular style is to work very quickly through the first draft and then to take time revising. Often, that revision process is incredibly difficult to let go of. I believe that another person—at least one—absolutely needs to be involved.

It is tough to stand back from something you have created and fix the broken or faulty parts. This is where Drugstore Books came in. I was already a fan of Drugstore. I liked the ethos of promoting quirky fiction and of taking a look at non-mainstream work. Drugstore has been a pleasure to work with. Since day one, they have supported me (at times extremely patiently), in the pursuit of my dream. And make no mistake, it was a dream. My initial contact was inspired by a desire to see my work included on The Book Rack.

As it became two chapters and then three and four, as I made the nervous approach attempting to sound like I knew what I was doing(!), I will never forget the e-mail I received from Andrew, much quicker than I expected, explaining that provided Paul agreed, we would be taking the book forward. Around twenty-four hours later, I received Paul’s confirmation and realised that I now had a goal to focus on, which proved essential in finishing the novel. Andrew urged me constantly: just get to the end of the first draft, we can edit from there.

Andrew Oberg and Paul Rogers have the ultimate set-up for a writer looking for independence and wanting to express their voice in the way they hear it. They offer all of the benefits of self-publishing with two major differences. They don’t take a penny from you and your work is subject to an honest and fair editorial process. They are not running a vanity press. They have to see something in your work that they like. The spark has to be there. But if they believe it is and you all decide to work together, then this is a team effort.

Andrew and I exchanged countless e-mails on everything from AmericaniZed spellings to typesets, fonts and plot kinks. Sports results, Japan (Andrew lives in Japan) and Liverpool (I live in Liverpool). I found Andrew’s help invaluable and his opinions helped me to finish the book. I never lost sight of the fact that I was going to be on The Book Rack. I had wanted that so badly when I submitted and for the record, no, I never sent it anywhere else. I approached the people that I felt would best understand what I was trying to achieve and what I was about. I had no idea how right that judgement would be.

Drugstore Books are not about profit. They are not about ego. They operate like an indie record label put together by college friends to promote each other’s music and retain their integrity and individuality.

We are about to see the final steps of this (almost) year-long process. I have been asked by friends and relatives if I would work with Drugstore again. The answer is: absolutely. Although I am aware that Andrew and Paul also see their niche as helping new writers get a toe onto the ladder. They have done that for me and I could not have predicted things that are happening to me now. I am now being sent books to review and to provide blurbs for. I am making and receiving direct contact with and from writers who inspire me and readers who seem to like my work. And all of this before the book is officially available!

Writing is a solitary task but this really felt like teamwork. Thanks to Andrew, Paul and Eric. Long may the Drugstore doors be open for others like me.

Next week, Andrew Oberg takes a look at marketing & sales.

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