Update on the KLF paperback

So where's the bloody KLF paperback, then?

I get asked that most days and the short answer is that it will be a while yet - but it will be a much nicer edition when it arrives.

This is the longer answer:

My original plan was test the reaction to last November's Kindle version (ie, to see if led to me being sectioned), and if all went well I was going to put a print-on-demand paperback out via The Big Hand this month - along with iBook, Kobo etc versions.



Except things didn't go to plan. Things went far better than planned. The reaction to the book was *blushes* pretty damn great. It was apparent that the book could be published "properly," and indeed there is a small publisher that is a perfect fit, and who do lovely, lovely stuff, that are keen to do so.

Which would be great except - well, for years I have been wanting to write an alternative history of the 20th Century. Why? Well, almost all 20th Century histories are written by politicians or political journalists who, unsurprisingly, attempt to understand the period through the actions of the political class. Yet the ideas and innovations of the 20th Century - relativity, cubism, quantum mechanics, postmodernism, psychedelics, DNA, The Somme, video games, cosmology, the subconscious, moon landings, Dada, chaos maths, Hollywood and so on - don't make any damned sense from that perspective. Surprisingly, though, those things make far more sense together than they do when studied separately, because a few key ideas run through 20th century science, art and culture which are, I think, the key to unlocking the whole period. Hence my stupidly-ambitious intention is to write a book that will be a fun, easy read and which will casually make sense of the entire brainmelting, fascinating period. In less than 100,000 words.

This has never looked like a sensible, achievable ambition, but it's my ambition and I'm sticking with it.


The problem has always been that to write such a book properly you would need (a) a big publisher, and (b) credibility. One result of the fallout from the KLF ebook, however, is that I am now represented by one of the biggest and most prestigious literary agencies in the UK. It's nuts - I am now represented by the same agent as the likes of Julian Barnes, Blake Morrison and Ben Goldacre (who is responsible for this turn of events, and to whom I owe a massive debt of thanks). As a result I have received a unexpected blast of credibility and, as I'm sure you'll understand, am attempting use that to get the 20th Century book off the ground. The proposal and the Einstein chapter are currently landing in publishers inboxes.

So how does this effect the KLF paperback? Well, the aim is to get a good, long term relationship with the right publisher for the 20th Century book, and the KLF book has got caught up in this. Its sales for the first 10 weeks, all through word of mouth with no real effort at promotion, are such that picking up the paperback rights appears to be a no-brainer. It may well be - in fact, it's likely - that the publisher for The 20th Century wouldn't be right for KLF, in which case all well and good and I can rush the KLF paperback out through the perfect publisher mentioned above. But The 20th Century is the Big Goal, even if this slows down the KLF paperback. Thanks to the swamplike pace of Big Publishing, this means it will be while before I can confirm a release date.

This is far from ideal - making things not available in all formats is not the done thing this day and age, but I have to pursue any hope of getting the 20th Century book off the ground because if I don't get to write it soon I will burst.

So apologies to those who are waiting for the KLF book to appear in paperback, but hopefully no-one wants me to burst. I am leaving the KLF book available on Kindle format, for now at least, so that the text is available for anyone with a PC or a smartphone (details on how to read Kindle books without a Kindle are here). And if it helps any, the first draft of The First Church On The Moon will be done before the end of the month.

KLF fans, of course, understand the significance of waiting: