Sharing Your Original Sin: Publishing a First Novel

This is the cover of the book. This is exactly what it would look like in the bestseller section at Borders or B&N if a crazy person printed it through and left on the shelf with a half-eaten bakery item of their choice.

I’m going to do something stupid.

Isn’t it nice when you get a warning like that? I really wish that more people would take this approach in life. It would help smooth over so many uncomfortable situations where both parties know that something truly idiotic is about it happen but neither is capable of acknowledging it.

There are some stories you are proud of and some not so much. There are some stories that you just have to write and put away in a drawer and hope beyond all hope that no one will ever find. For me, The Madness of Ants is just such a story. So of course, I am going to put it right out here where everyone can see it.

This all started as part of my experiment in digital publishing. I wanted to try a book-length bit of fiction, and since I only have two novels I figured I’d start with the first.


You know, I’ve said many times that this book is terrible but in preparing it for the Kindle I found that it is even worse than I remember. Well, there’s nothing for it now but to get on with it. Here we go…

The Original Sin

To begin, The Madness of Ants (TMOA) is a book not a story. It is only a book because it has 59K words and that the words are written in a language people can read. It is not a book because it is particularly interesting or engaging.

It is a book because it is my first novel.

Almost 16 years ago, I spent a summer writing the first novel I would actually finish. That in itself is something of an accomplishment and I’m proud of the fact that I did it. The work itself though is really a study in everything that a first time novelist can do wrong.

  • Surrealism
  • Obscenity
  • Aping the styles of literary authors
  • Wild plot twists
  • Total lack of plot (yes, you can have both)

About the only thing I didn’t do is plagiarize, but considering how many ideas I stole from other writers I suppose it would be fair to heap that sin on the pile.

Original Sin

So why am I publishing this book at all?

It’s a fair question. After all, the book is so horrible that no one should be allowed to read it. But then, every writer has something like this in their closet, hard drive, etc. It is their Original Sin. The work they finished but cannot be proud of. The work that haunts their waking moments for no reason other than it was the first reason they started down the path.

Lately, I’ve not been writing at all. Even worse, I’ve gone weeks without even thinking about writing. Then, when I have a moment to myself, I wonder just what the hell happened to the guy who got up at 5AM every day to write. I wonder what happened to the guy who sequestered himself with his words and his characters and wrote thousands of words each day.

Eventually, I come around to thinking about the work I’ve done, as most writers do. I dust off a manuscript. I look deep inside to find some gleam, a gem, a reason…

But this practice rarely produces anything resembling inspiration.

Research shows acquiring a thing only give us half the pleasure of holding onto it. In other words, we’re stubborn as hell once we’ve got hold of something. It is twice as painful to lose something than it is pleasurable to acquire it in the first place.

I think this is the real truth of a writer’s Original Sin, and it probably applies to a lot more than just writing.

So, to answer the question, I am publishing this book so that I can forget about it and move on.

Why You Shouldn’t Read This Book

It should be fairly obvious that the book is really bad. What’s worse is that sixteen years of holding it in have given the book more gravitas than it deserves by a hundredfold or more. Still, long time readers of this site are undoubtedly curious and no warning whatsoever will keep them from reading the thing.

So, here is a brief list of reasons why you might not want to read this book:

  • You are offended by obscenity in all forms.
  • You are put off by incessant navel gazing.
  • You are filled with rage when reading political discourse.
  • You dislike stories where there is an excessive amount of drinking.
  • You hate it when writers ape the styles of more famous writers who are only famous for being infamous.
  • You loathe pretentiousness.
  • You generally believe that anyone under the age of 25 should never be allowed to hold a pen.

This is not meant to be a complete list. No, not by any means. I am certain that readers of this book will find many reasons to dislike it. I hope you will share those reasons in the comments.

The Madness of Ants will soon be available in the Kindle store. However, because it is such a bad book, I feel awful about selling it. So, I’ve produced both the Kindle (mobi) and ePub version here. If you wish to inflict a PDF on yourself, I can make that format available too but be careful what you wish for… A PDF version is now available as well!

The Madness of Ants (ePub)
The Madness of Ants (Kindle – mobi)
The Madness of Ants (PDF)

8 thoughts on “Sharing Your Original Sin: Publishing a First Novel

  1. You realize of course that by setting all this up the way you have, this book is going to be an instant best-seller, and win you a Pulitzer for creating a sublime work of post-ironic introspection.

    And you’re going to have to live with that.


  2. @Ken You know what’s funny is that I was thinking about that this morning. You know, the same way that every writer drives to work each morning pretending to be interviewed by Terry Gross. Of course, I suppose that if Jonathan Franzen can be selected twice to the Oprah Book Club, then anything is possible. 😛

  3. Dude, just the NAME makes me want to read it. “The Madness of Ants”… Awesome! (No sarcasm intended.)

    I haven’t read any of the story yet – more on that soon – but you’ve really nailed having a title that attracts good attention. So if nothing else, the story is cool for that 🙂

  4. Thanks, Clint. There are some good bits in there, but you have to look pretty hard.

    Actually, it would be a much better short story collection than a novel.

    Of course, there’s the swearing and the sex and the occasional bit of decent writing that in theory could hold someone’s interest for more than a few minutes. 😛

  5. I read the first two chapters. Now, if I may offer some unsolicited advice…

    Dude, I think you’re too hard on yourself. It’s good writing! I mean, I don’t know what happens yet. Maybe it gets worse. But I think it’s a neat concept to begin with. A guy with sort of a schizm in the brain – with two distinct characters alternating between different points of view. Maybe it’s been done before, but if so I don’t know where. It seems really original to me.

    Sometimes when I hear you come down on yourself, I think, “Geez, he really shouldn’t be doing that.” It’s like you’re not giving yourself enough credit. But then when I offer my writing to others, I end up doing the same damn thing. I end up all apologetic, saying stuff like, “I know it’s all total crap. Thank you just for taking a sec to acknowledge the pathetic existence of my worthless writing.”

    But I think that’s just a way we shield ourselves. It’s pre-emptive criticism. A sort of perverted proactiveness. We know the work’s not perfect, but it still gets us in the gut when we hear others say it. So by saying it ourselves first, we pre-emptively beat ourselves up. Then when the real blow comes, it doesn’t hurt so bad. That’s why I think I do it, anyway.

    My point is, ease up my friend. Your writing is often good, sometimes bad, but usually entertaining. Most of all, it comes from your heart. And maybe someday you will find amazing “writer’s dream” success. But even if that day doesn’t come, you still went for your dream. That’s more than most people can say.

    And don’t feel guilty about not writing as much as your younger self did, either. Your younger self was naiive and stupid. He didn’t know that writing was going to turn out to be such a long-term pain in the ass. Ignore him. Write when you feel, what you feel, as much as you feel. (God, that sounded lame!) Just don’t let the past hold you down, in any way. You can write. You are writing. You’ve still “got it”, bro!

    Good luck on Nanowrimo!

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