Paul Beaumont’s dangerous little book

ABriefEternity2

‘A Brief Eternity’ is OCA student Paul Beaumont’s first novel. Shortlisted for this year’s Dundee International Book Prize, it was published in November by independent publisher Dangerous Little Books. Paul started studying with OCA in 2006 and began the novel on the level 3 Advanced Writing course. Here’s what he has learnt about writing, publishing and promoting a novel.

New writers are advised to ‘write about what you know’. It’s advice Paul has followed with ‘A Brief Eternity’, drawing on 25 years as an evangelical Christian which ended when a personal crisis prompted him to rethink his faith.  The novel began life as a 3,000-word short story about a pub quiz in which Jesus is the quiz master, written for the level 1 Starting to Write course. The story finds its way into ‘A Brief Eternity’ as one of the set pieces that punctuate the narrative.

Paul’s tutor at the time, Joanna Laurens, saw the story’s potential to become a novel.  Paul was keen to get started by putting together a top level plan, but Joanna counselled him against that approach, saying it would constrain him. ‘It’s the best advice I was ever given,’ he says.  Fast forward three years and Paul’s tutor on Advanced Writing, Liz Newman, suggested he approach her agent with the manuscript for what had become ‘A Brief Eternity’.

The agent was impressed with Paul’s work and sent the novel to Orion and Canongate, two publishers she thought might be interested.  ‘I had rejection letters from both,’ recalls Paul.  ‘Now I know there is such a thing as a nice rejection letter. They inspired me to sign up for a half-day course by Bloomsbury on how to hook an agent. That was the day I realised just how heavily the odds are stacked against writers getting published.  Some agents receive 1,000 manuscripts a month and take on just two or three new writers a year. That’s one to 4,000 odds.’

Paul’s solution? To approach publishers himself, especially those likely to be sympathetic to the type of novel he had written (a parody of the fundamentalist Christian view of the afterlife).  He remembered receiving a recommendation from Amazon for a book called,‘God Hates You, Hate Him Back’ by CJ Werleman. Werleman’s publisher, Dangerous Little Books, define their mission as being to ‘bring you the books they don’t want you to read’ and although their list was dominated by non-fiction titles Paul decided to send them his manuscript anyway. To his delight, he received an e-mail reply in just two weeks from CJ Werleman himself who, as the reader for Dangerous Little Books, recommended publication.

Another do-it-yourself technique Paul has used successfully with ‘A Brief Eternity’, and which other OCA writers could consider, is to invite people with an interest in what you are writing about and who pack some punch to read your book and review it. Good publishers do this anyway, but there’s nothing to stop authors doing it too. Paul had read ‘Godless’ by former US Minister-turned-atheist Dan Barker and found his Freedom From Religion Foundation through a Google search.  Dan read Paul’s manuscript and wrote a review in praise of it. Dangerous Little Books has included the review in the published book.

Paul Beaumont’s ‘A Brief Eternity’ is available in paperback, hard cover and Kindle edition format.

 

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13 comments for “Paul Beaumont’s dangerous little book

  1. 5 December 2013 at 11:38 am

    Congratulations Paul. It certainly looks a provocative read and, having read the reviews, I can see where ‘subversive came from.

    • 5 December 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks Catherine. ‘Subversive’ was the word Liz chose to describe it, but I think it’s a good one. I hope the book is entertaining and provocative rather than offensive. If people are offended it will be interesting to find out why, wouldn’t it?

  2. 5 December 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Well done Paul. It’s a real achievement getting shortlisted for the Dundee Book Prize. “A Brief Eternity” sounds like just the right Christmas gift for a certain sort of reader! Congratulations on this impressive debut. Hope your success will inspire you to keep writing and that you’ll bring out a second novel before too long.

  3. 5 December 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you, Chris. Watch this space…

  4. Gareth
    5 December 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Have just downloaded it to my Kindle. Have only got through the first few chapters but the rapture description is brilliant. I must be what Chris describes as ‘a certain sort of reader!’

  5. Carlie
    6 December 2013 at 9:01 am

    Well done, Paul! This is great news and inspiring for other OCA writing students 🙂

  6. carol
    6 December 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Fantastic to hear your progression from level 1 assignment to fully published novel – well done! I loved hearing about how you made it happen. I’m not a writer but I still find this very inspiring – all we creative types need to be a bit enterprising when it comes to getting our work out there. Bravo!

    • 6 December 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Thank you, Carol; that’s a lovely response! Good luck with getting your own creative stuff ‘out there’. If I can do it, anyone can…!

  7. 7 December 2013 at 11:53 am

    Well done Paul!
    (I like the cover design!)

    • 7 December 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks Dewald; we spent a lot of time deliberating over that. I hope you like what’s inside, too!

  8. Elizabeth Underwood
    9 December 2013 at 4:31 pm

    If there are other OCA writers with a manuscript finished or almost finished, Rethink Press are looking for two new novels to publish in 2014. The closing date for submitting them is 31 January. All the details are at http://rethinkpress.com/new-novels-competition-2014/ and the entry fee is £15 per novel.

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