Liberating ideas

Posts by Dan Kieran

‘My Story’ by Steven Gerrard – now available on Unbound

Dear reader,

Last week we launched what could be our biggest project to date – a genuine worldwide exclusive.

Unbound subscribers already know we are revolutionising publishing by bringing authors and readers together. We have always planned to help other publishers join us, giving readers and superfans the chance to get special editions of their books as well as our own. In 2014 we worked with the excellent Do Book Company to help them fund special editions of David Hiatt’s Do Purpose and now we’re announcing our first collaboration with Penguin Random House.

Steven Gerrard’s autobiography My Story was published in September to rave reviews and the Special Fan Edition Package of My Story by Steven Gerrard is now exclusively available from Unbound.

This edition is limited to only 2,005 copies and is £150. It is set to be the ultimate gift for all Liverpool FC and England fans.

The package includes:
– A copy of My Story, hand numbered and signed by Steven
– Your name printed in the list of supporters at the back of every Special Fan Edition
– A letter from Steven
– Presentation box
– Exclusive prints
– Exclusive competition – 3 people who support this project will win the chance to meet Steven

Get your exclusive fan edition of Steven Gerrard's new autobiography 'My Story' signed and hand-numbered by Steven Gerrard himself.

‘My Story’ by Steven Gerrard – One of the greatest football stories ever told. Exclusive Unbound edition.


We have huge ambitions to bring more great books to readers that would not be published through the traditional publishing route.

Steven Gerrard has an integrity and authenticity we admire, so it’s a huge privilege for us to help him make sure this Special Fan Edition is available to all his fans across the world at the same time.

If you are a Liverpool FC supporter I’m sure you are already itching to get copies for yourself and friends and family, but please also spread the word among your network to help us ensure all Steven’s fans are aware of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Don’t miss out. Spread the word. Together we can revolutionise publishing.
Order your copy here.
Dan Kieran
CEO, Unbound

Launching the Unbound Library

One of the best things about the internet is that it makes everything available. The down side of that is how you navigate ‘everything’ to find what’s really good and will resonate with you. This is a real issue when it comes to finding books and explains why we rely so much on the recommendations of people whose opinions we know and trust. The internet may be changing publishing but the way we choose the books we read still relies on that same principle.

Of course lots of websites now give you the chance to read reviews of books that other people have read but unless you know more about the individual reviewer and their own perspective there’s a limit to how valuable their opinion, whether positive or critical, will be. There is a way of making everyone’s opinion resonate with you no matter how their tastes and backgrounds might differ from yours however, and that’s if they were only allowed to recommend their very favourite books to you and explain in each case why that book matters so much to them. There’s no guarantee that you will share their passion for any one particular book but that personal insight will give you the context for that opinion and it may be enough to persuade you to give that book a try.

A few months ago I wrote a blog about the Unbound Library, and you can read that original post with the full details here, but, in short, we asked everyone who works for us to list their ten favourite books and write 50 words that explain why they love those books so much. We then bought those books and our office now contains a physical version of the Unbound Library. You can now read about some of those books and why we love them all so much here in this part of the site. We have also started asking our readers to share their favourite books and today invite you to do the same. All we ask is that you limit your choice to only your very favourite books and write a few words on each to explain why they mean so much to you.

In time we hope to turn the Unbound Library into the ultimate book recommendation engine that will allow anyone to stumble on books they might never have come across before. You can visit our ever growing archive now, and a new book will be featured every day. The more nominations we get the quicker the Library will grow. So feel free to browse. We hope you’ll uncover something extraordinary you wouldn’t have discovered any other way. This is very much an ‘Alpha’ version of the Library though. How and in what direction it evolves is up to you, so as well as telling us about your favourite books feel free to let us know what you’d like the Unbound Library to be able to do. You can email the librarian here.

Dan Kieran


We’re not doing this to make money, but it seems a shame to find out about a book you might want to read and then not be able to buy it so we have teamed up with our friends at Foyles. You can click through from the library to order any of the books from them if you wish. If Foyles doesn’t stock the book or it’s out of print a link will take you to Abebooks where you can find a retailer that has a copy waiting for you. If you buy something from Foyles as a result of a link Unbound will receive a small affiliate fee.

Happy Birthday Unbound

On May 29th in 2011 Unbound launched in a shed at Hay-on-Wye. As the four-year anniversary approaches, CEO Dan Kieran assesses how far the world’s first crowd-funding publishing platform has come.

Four years ago, one of the many people who visited us in our shed at the Hay Festival was Philip Pullman, a man who knows a thing or two about important ideas (he later bought the shed to keep his woodworking tools in and described Unbound as ‘an idea whose time has come’). In a recent essay he described the three elements all successful literary quests adhere to. The quest must be hard. It should be simple to understand; and a huge amount must rest on its outcome. He then cites Lord of The Rings, Treasure Island and Jason and the Argonauts as classic examples of the genre.

Philip Pullman talking to John Mitchinson in the original Unbound shed at Hay-on-Wye festival

Philip Pullman talking to John Mitchinson in the original Unbound shed at Hay-on-Wye festival, 2011.

Although he meant this as advice to writers he could equally be describing what it’s like to launch and run a new business. There is no doubt that Unbound is a quest for those of us who have contributed to helping us reach our fourth birthday. It has certainly been hard – both for us and for the authors who have embraced our new model. We all knew from the start that the premise of the business – harnessing the power that comes from bringing authors and readers together – was beautifully simple but what about the outcome? Well, they don’t come much more ambitious than democratising the spread of the written word. A few weeks ago one of our books, Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake, won Book of The Year at the Bookseller Awards and it is this remarkable novel, perhaps more than any other book we’ve published, that best highlights what can happen when you put readers in control of the publishing process. 

When we launched Unbound many people scoffed at the idea of letting readers decide which books should be published but we thought then – and still think – that the way books come to exist, and the power to determine which books should exist, is too important to be put in the hands of one person, one publisher or one online marketplace platform or digital delivery system. The success of The Wake proved us right. Here was book that was unable to find a traditional publisher but through the taste and judgement of its readers, ended up winning awards and even being long-listed for the most prestigious literary prize of all, the Man Booker. And if that showed us that readers can pick literary winners, the success of Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note shows they know a critically-acclaimed smash hit bestseller when they see one too. These are the two most successful books we’ve published in the last four years but there are many others that have done almost as well, from writers as diverse as Terry Jones, Jonathan Meades, Chris Yates, Katy Brand, Kate Mosse and not to mention Raymond Briggs (published this Christmas). 

When John, Justin and I launched Unbound we felt publishing was about to enter a golden age as it – inevitably, surely? – harnessed the Internet to redefine the concept of a book and we wanted to be a part of that evolution. When it comes to ‘the future’ you have two choices. You can spend time waiting, and predicting, what it might be or you can decide to do something and attempt to define what it is for yourself. Perhaps counter-intuitively, now that everything is available online and often for free, the need for publishers is more important because the explosion of choice has made it even harder for writers to find an audience and secure an income. But what we think of as a ‘publisher’ is changing. The new publisher must be prepared to embrace evolution and enter parts of the value chain which until now have been considered ‘someone-else’s’ domain. Four years in, we see Unbound as a chance to re-configure the industry and put the business that is responsible for transferring and transmitting the most important ideas and stories into the custody of the very people it is there to serve. By building a sustainable publishing platform we believe we can safeguard the spread of ideas that the future depends on. Now, grand-standing aside, that, surely, is an outcome we can all agree has a lot riding on it. 

Co-founders Justin Pollard, John Mitchinson and Dan Kieran outside the original Unbound shed at Hay-on-Wye festival, 2011.

Co-founders Justin Pollard, John Mitchinson and Dan Kieran outside the original Unbound shed at Hay-on-Wye festival, 2011.

So how is our quest going? Well, if you’ll forgive a literary analogy, four years in we’ve reached around page 40, (or 10% if you’re using a Kindle). We have come a long way. We’ve faced real tests that have forced us to look deep within ourselves and we’ve also had great success, but we know the challenges still lie ahead. If you have joined our determined rabble by supporting one of our books, thank you. If you haven’t, I hope you will. We won’t finish our story without you.

Dan Kieran, John Mitchinson and Justin Pollard

The co-founders of Unbound

The Unbound Library

Lots of companies ask employees to fill out isometric tests to get insights into their personalities. I’m not sure if you’ve ever done one of these tests but in my experience they are very dull – once you get over the initial excitement that someone might be interested in what makes you you. I think that’s because these tests are not really interested in you at all.

We don’t use these kinds of tests at Unbound, but we do ask all the people who work for us to give us a list of their ten favourite books. Not the ten books that they think will make them seem most intelligent to strangers, or to show off their eclectic taste but their ten actual favourite books. The ten books they would take with them to a desert island. Ten is a good number. By the time you get down to number seven and eight the insights are very revealing. Everyone’s list has one thing in common of course – passion – and that’s what we’re really looking for.

Twenty people work for Unbound so we now have a list of 200 books that helped form the personalities behind our company. It’s a wonderful list, and every book is there because someone thinks it’s extraordinary and important. We had great fun choosing our list and sharing it with each other but it’s not enough to have a list. Once you have a list like that you want to be able to see, touch, smell and hold all the books. You want to be able to browse through and read them.

We moved recently and our new office had a boardroom. We only have 8 board meetings a year though and the idea of having a room designed like a board room for 365 days a year when we would only use it for 8 days a year made no sense at all, so we got rid of the board table and bought some book shelves and got a spare sofa my dad had in his garage. Then we took our combined list and bought them, almost all second hand, and now we have a library. A unique collection of books that mean a huge amount to all of us. We found a lectern on ebay and are in the process of getting a journal made where you can write down the title of the book you are borrowing with your phone number in case you forget you have it. We have an Unbound stamp so we can brand each book as being part of our library. If anyone in the library comes across a book they have not heard of before they shout the title across the room to find out who chose it and that person then comes over and explains, eyes glistening with pride, why they love it so much.

Asking someone to help you curate a library is a brilliant way to find out about them and has the added bonus of showing who we are collectively as a company.

As amazing as this is, it’s not enough either. No matter how hard we work Unbound is and will always be completely reliant on authors and readers to help it continue to be a success. We want our library to grow beyond the initial 200 titles so today we are asking our authors and readers to tell us about their favourite books too. We will then look at the selections and add the ones we think will make our library even richer. There is no reason why the Unbound Library should ever stop growing. The more books it has in it the better.

We are trying to come up with ways to share our library with our authors and readers – more information on those plans in the next few months – but if you have any ideas about how we can share it or what we can do with it let me know.

To send in a submission (please do) email with the title, your name and why you love it in fifty words or less. We’ll keep you updated on how the Library builds in our newsletter, which you can subscribe to here



(Founder and CEO, Unbound)


The Unbound Library so far contains:

Things Fall Apart Achebe, Chinua  / The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Adams, Douglas / Half of a Yellow Sun Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi / Where Rainbows End Ahern, Cecilia / London Fields Amis, Martin / The Epic of Gilgamesh Anonymous / The Handmaid’s Tale Atwood, Margaret / Pride and Prejudice Austen, Jane / The Music Of Chance Auster, Paul / Boy Wonder Baker, James Robert / Miracles of Life Ballard, JG / The Wasp Factory Banks, Iain / I Hate Martin Amis et. al. Barry, Peter / Alex’s Adventures in Numberland Bellos, Alex / The Puffin Book of Nonsense Verse Blake, Quentin / An Ice Cream War Boyd, William / Into the Silent Land Broks, Paul / Jane Eyre Bronte, Charlotte / Wuthering Heights Brontë, Emily / Johnny Crow’s Garden Brooke, Leslie / The Mythical Man-Month Brooks Jr, Frederick P. / Nights At the Circus Carter, Angela / What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Carver, Raymond / Wonder Boys Chabon, Michael / The Short Stories Cheever, John / Careless People Churchwell, Sarah / What A Carve Up Coe, Jonathan / The Hunger Games 1-3 Collins, Suzanne / The Dark is Rising Cooper, Susan / Boy Dahl, Roald / The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar (And 6 More) Dahl, Roald / The BFG Dahl, Roald / The Idle Traveller Dan Kieran / The Oxford Companion to Food Davidson, Alan / The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts de Bernières, Louis / Collected short stories Of Guy de Maupassant de Maupassant, Guy / The Little Prince de St Exupery, Antoine / Wind, Sand and Stars de St Exupery, Antoine / Democracy and Education Dewey, John / Great Expectations Dickens, Charles / Fup Dodge, Jim / Jamaica Inn Du Maurier, Daphne / Making a Living in the Middle Ages Dyer, Chris / But Beautiful Dyer, Geoff / Out Of Sheer Rage Dyer, Geoff / The Curious Gardener’s Almanac Edworthy, Niall / Four Quartets Eliot, TS / Selected Poems Eliot, TS / Nature Emerson, Ralph Waldo / Birdsong Faulks, Sebastian / Magician Fiest, Raymond E / The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald, F Scott / The Art of Looking Sideways Fletcher, Alan / Independence Day Ford, Richard / Consider the Lobster Foster Wallace, David / Le Grande Meaulnes Fournier, Alain / The Magus Fowles, John / Man’s Search For Meaning Frankl, Viktor E / A Million Little Pieces Frey, James / The Book of Puka Puka Frisbie, Robert Dean / Sophie’s World Gaarder, Jostein / The Story of My Experiments with Truth Gandhi, Mohandas / Strandloper Garner, Alan / The Stone Book Quartet Garner, Alan / North and South Gaskell, Elizabeth / Cold Comfort Farm Gibbons, Stella / Straw Dogs Gray, John / The Comedians Greene, Graham / Plainsong Haruf, Kent / A Goat’s Song Healy, Dermot / Across the Nightingale Floor Hearn, Lian / Catch 22 Heller, Joseph / A Life In Secrets (Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE) Helm, Sarah / The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway, Ernest / Siddhartha Hesse, Herman / Mambo Kings play songs of Love Hijuelos, Oscar / Kleinzeit Hoban, Russell / Riddley Walker Hoban, Russell / The Iliad Homer / Atomized Houellebecq, Michel / World According to Garp Irving, John / The Dig Jones, Cynan / Ill Fares The Land Judt, Tony / The Man in the High Castle K. Dick, Philip / Thinking, Fast and Slow Kahneman, Daniel / Burial Rites Kent, Hannah / Stig of the Dump King, Clive / The Rainbow Lawrence, DH / Women in Love Lawrence, DH / The Spy Who Came In From The Cold Le Carré, John / When I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning Lee, Laurie / Left Hand of Darkness LeGuin, Ursula K / Hero of our Time Lermontov / Flora Britannica Mabey, Richard / Whiskey Galore MacKenzie, Compton / Autumn Journal MacNeice, Louis / Life Of Pi Martell, Yann / A Game of Thrones 1-7 Martin, George RR / Tales Of The City Maupin, Armistead / The Road McCarthy, Cormac / Atonement McEwan, Ian / Please Kill Me McNeil, Legs / All My Sons Miller, Arthur / The Song of Achilles Miller, Madeline / Paradise Lost Milton, John / Black Swan Green Mitchell, David / Homeboy Morgan, Seth / Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World Murakami, Haruki / Kafka on the Shore Murakami, Haruki / Norwegian Wood Murakami, Haruki / The Wind-up Bird Chronicle Murakami, Haruki / Pale Fire Nabokov, Vladimir / A Monster Calls Ness, Patrick / The Wind Singer Nicholson, William / My Oedipus Complex O’Connor, Frank / The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox O’Farrell, Maggie / Down and out in Paris and London Orwell, George / 1984 Orwell, George / Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone – Trilogy Peake, Mervyn / Tom’s Midnight Garden Pearce, Philippa / An Instance of the Fingerposts Pears, Iain / Edie Plimpton, George & Stein, Jean / Seeing Things Postgate, Oliver / His Dark Materials Trilogy Pullman, Philip / The Godfather Puzo, Mario / Inherent Vice Pynchon, Thomas / Major Vigoureux Q / All Quiet on the Western Front Remarque, Erich Maria / Snake Ropes Richards, Jess / Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here Rosen, Michael / Harry Potter 1-5 Rowling, J K / The God Of Small Things Roy, Arundhati / Haroun and the Sea of Stories Rushdie, Salman / Rainbow Boys Sanchez, Alex / England’s Dreaming Savage, Jon / Gravity’s Engines Scharf, Caleb / The Vulture Scott-Heron, Gil / The Emigrants Sebald, W G / The Rings of Saturn Sebald, W G / Snow Flower and the Secret Fan See, Lisa / The Wilt Alternative Sharpe, Tom / Frankenstein Shelley, Mary / By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept Smart, Elizabeth / Kokoro Sōseki, Natsume / East of Eden Steinbeck, John / Travels with Charley Steinbeck, John / Dracula Stoker, Bram / Marianne Dreams Storr, Catherine / Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice Syed, Matthew / The Goldfinch Tartt, Donna / Wyrd Sisters Terry Pratchett / The Lord of the Rings Tolkien, J R R / A Confession and Other Religious Writing Tolstoy, Leo / The Leopard Tomasi di Lampedusa, Giuseppe / The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists Tressell, Robert / Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain, Mark / Slaughterhouse Five Vonnegut, Kurt / The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are Watts, Alan / Handful of Dust Waugh, Evelyn / Joy in the Morning Wodehouse, P G / To the Lighthouse Woolf, Virginia / After the Fire, A Still Small Voice Wyld, Evie / Revolutionary Road Yates, Richard / Kitchen Yoshimoto, Banana / The Black Death Ziegler, Philip.

P.S. Tell us a little more about your favourite books and what you think of Unbound and you could win £100 of Unbound books and pledges – start the questions here

The Revolution

£1 million reached

Dear reader, 
We’ve hit £1 million in pledges! This is a huge milestone for us and we couldn’t have done it without all you, so we’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has ever pledged for a book on Unbound. 
We built Unbound to give authors and readers a way to connect directly. And it turns out you have great taste. You’ve helped to fund more than 50 books, including a number one bestseller and a novel that has been long-listed for the Man Booker prize.
But Unbound is about more than sales and prizes, lovely as they are. We believe books are the greatest delivery mechanism for ideas that has ever been invented. Books can change the world. And the way books are published matters. 
At Unbound, we think books are too important to be controlled by any one person or company. We think books should emerge from the interaction between the two groups that matter most – authors and readers. Publishing needs to evolve into something that makes that process easier. And that’s what we’re trying to do. But we need your help to get better. 
So we’ve decided to do something radical. As well as rewarding the pledger who pushed us over £1 million by giving them every book we ever publish, we’re going to say thank you to all of you who have ever pledged on Unbound.
For this week only, you can download a digital version of all the Unbound books you like that have already been published, for free.
That might be just one book, or it might be all of them – it’s your choice. Find out more here.
We only ask one thing in return. Tell everyone you know about Unbound. If you download one free ebook tell one person, if you go for them all tell 50. Pass on the promo code below to friends who are new to Unbound and they will get £10 off their first pledge. 

Promo code: newcomer (enter code at checkout)
Tell them that we’re giving the control of publishing to you. Keep reading and keep pledging. 
Be part of a revolution in publishing.
Dan, John & Justin
Founders, Unbound

Publishing Is Dead

The day I realised publishing was dead I was sitting on a battered, grey beach in Bognor Regis. I was on my lunch hour while working for minimum wage clearing out the rat-infested basement of an accountant in a seaside town hated even by the King after which it is named. After ten years, my career as a writer seemed over and I was back doing the same kind of work I was doing before I’d started my quest to become a published author. In the previous decade I estimate I’d sold somewhere in the region of half a million copies of the ten books that had my name on them all over the world. My books were published in ten languages and one of them got to number five on the Sunday Times Bestseller List. The books had led to some freelance travel journalism, but that day I realised journalism was dead too.

The reason for my despair was simple. I suddenly realised I’d spent a decade building an audience for my work but had no idea who any of the people buying my books were. I had no data. I had no means of connecting with whatever audience I had created. The gatekeepers I’d used to build my career – publishers, newspapers, magazines, radio stations and bookshops – had no interest in collecting my data and no interest in me. For them I was just a content provider that they could monetise. Not only did they not care about me, they didn’t care about my audience. They actually had a vested interest in keeping us apart! It was then that I realised someone had to build a more sustainable, authentic way for authors to connect with the people who give them their livelihood – their readers – and for the communication between the two parties to be BOTH ways.

Of course for some authors publishing is very much alive and kicking. My friend and co-founder at Unbound, John Mitchinson, likens it to agribusiness. Publishers have worked out what crops give them the greatest yields and stick to them. Celebrity memoir, TV tie-in, genre fiction, humour. If you’re not the kind of author that fits into those categories – or are not already established as an author brand in your own right – publishing is not very interested in you. Sadly, for those of us who love books that means bookshops are becoming very predictable and homogenised, so much so that last year Sainsbury’s won Book Retailer of the Year at the publishing industry’s annual awards ceremony.

I was reminded of the agribusiness analogy while travelling through the Sussex Downs a few weeks ago. I was driving at dawn from South Harting to Chichester, the town where my children live. Sure enough, there were the fields of agribusiness, lifeless and drenched with pesticides that prevented anything other than the specific crop they planted getting through. Just like a traditional publisher. Those fields had a kind of beauty – there was a lot of expertise, a lot of science had gone in to extracting just as much as could be extracted from the ground – but there was no eco-system at work and there was no room for unexpected growth. They were monotonous. Relentless. They were predictable and dull. Next to the fields it was a very different picture, of course. Along the perimeter of the endless rows of wheat and barley were eruptions of colour as poppies and other wildflowers bloomed out under hedgerows teeming with life. A chaotic, wild, life-at-the-margins. Not the kind of structured, predictable order of the fields, but one where the eco-system itself was deciding what would or wouldn’t thrive. No-one was in charge of those hedgerows, and there, life was ebullient. As I looked more broadly across the horizon I spotted other oases of wild life between the fields. Trees, plants, colour – all living and thriving. Islands of variety in a world of beige. Those islands of colour offered a wonderful scene of promise, and I realised John’s analogy had a wider application.

All the established businesses that rely on a gatekeeper model, with their bureaucratic pesticides blocking light from the very enterprises they are supposed to support, remind me of those endless fields of wheat. And the new disruptive enterprises – like Unbound, the one I run – are finding new ways to thrive at their edges. We may seem wild and untamed. We may even seem rather frightening, but the gatekeepers will have to make way for a new, colourful world where people are fed up of passively consuming crops chosen by someone else. We want variety. We want a choice that’s an actual choice; not the illusion of choice where each direction is being manipulated. We actually want to decide what it is we buy, and because of the nature of the web we can find what we want and choose the people or company able to give it to us without trying to con us or treat us like idiots. Now we have the power to find out if we’re being duped.

Back on the beach in Bognor I got a call from John, who at the time was kindly paying me to help him with something he was working on. I mentioned to him an idea that our mutual friend Justin Pollard and I had talked about in a pub. He had loads of ideas that made it even more tempting to try and build a new kind of company. I, for one, had nothing to lose.

That was five years ago. The three of us built a website that brings authors and readers together. It’s called Unbound. Everything is changing. It’s exhilarating. Not many people get to live in times of such dramatic change. If you embrace it, you can enjoy it.

Why we started Unbound

If you put enough writers in a pub, it won’t take long before they start moaning about publishing, sharing anecdotes about frustrations they’ve faced over the years. My own list of gripes includes the time the title of one of my books was changed at the last minute (without me knowing) to satisfy a sales buyer from a high street book chain. Still, at least my name was spelt accurately – once I had pointed out that the cover proof I was sent to check had it wrong. Then there’s the frustration of publicity – six days after the publication of one book, I was told that we weren’t going to get any PR. I asked what they planned to do about it and received the reply, ‘don’t worry – there’s always the paperback,’ which was due out 12 months later. It had only been out for six days and they’d given up and moved on to something else. A year later I was told, ‘well, it will be very difficult to get any interest because it’s already been out for a year…’.

To some extent a lot of authors only have themselves to blame, though – and I include myself in that category, certainly when I first started out. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that having a book out means you are an artist and as such prefer not to sully yourself with the sales and PR side of being an author. That’s what your agent and publisher are for; and so they are the people you grumble about in the pub when your book fails to scale the bestseller lists. This detached egotism is often exacerbated by the way people look at you once you’ve had a book published regardless of your level of success. Being introduced alongside the word ‘author’ seems to give you a kind of adult ‘blankie’, one with which most authors stroke their cheeks for a very, very long time – some of us never realise we are clinging onto it in public at all.

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