A little while ago a friend asked me, is there a book you’ve published that you regretted making?
Thinking of the Uncanny Kingdom titles I’ve been responsible for, my knee-jerk reaction was to say no. Then I remembered my first book. The one I wrote when Jake Fletcher was but a twinkle in my eye. This book…
At the time I wrote it, I’d decided to move on from stand-up comedy and had the bright idea of tying a ribbon on my old material by bunging it in a book.
The jokes I included are a collection of things I used to present on stage, mostly using a projector. At the time, they got a laugh, but when I look at them now, most of what I see is outdated, niche, or just plain bad. And from what I can glean from the reviews, people who bothered to read the thing don’t disagree.
But then there’s that cover.
Despite the content being trash, the book’s cover became something of an internet sensation. You might even be familiar with it. It shows up on social media to this day, got loads of press, and has been turned into many a meme. Here’s a popular one…
So what am I complaining about? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a meme, right?
I’m complaining because I used my name. My real name. I put my real name on that cover, and now it sits alongside all the books I’ve written since. Who knows how many people have considered picking up an Uncanny Kingdom title, checked out the author, and thought, “Horse/human romance? No, thank you!”
Google the name David Bussell and it’s the first thing you see: a horse with people hands about to fornicate with a swooning woman. Thank Christ I haven’t had to look for a job in a while, because I wouldn’t fancy my chances with this thing floating around for all to see.
So why don’t I just take it down?
Well, apart from the fact that it would still exist on Amazon and Goodreads no matter what I did, there’s the fact that it continues to make money – quite a bit of it, in fact, and with no effort on my part. Despite not spending a penny on advertising, every January, I look at my Christmas sales and see a juicy paycheque thanks to this terrible thing. I didn’t realise it at the time, but apparently, pretend horse porn makes for a great stocking stuffer. Who knew?
So there it is. As millstones go, there are heavier ones, but this is the one I’ll wear till the day I die.
So what are your creative missteps? What have you put out in the world and regretted ever since? Bring on the cringe!