Let me tell you about what happened to someone I know – or rather knew, because the dear lady is dead now. She had the bug: for years she wrote a weekly story for the Dundee Evening Telegraph Scottish newspaper – a detective thing called “Dixon Hawke”! - and in 2008 she decided to write a novel. This turned out to be called “The Watcher in the Woods” and the general opinion was (and is) that is wasn't very good.

In any event, she ended up with vanity publishers called Book Guild Publishing. Now, this was not a wealthy person but, as I say, she had the bug and her great aim in life (she was then quite elderly) was to get into print. Unbelievably, she took a substantial bank loan to fund the publishing of her book in hardback(!) and in time several large boxes filled with copies of the book arrived at her home – for this old lady to go out and flog! On Amazon the book was (and is) marked up at £13+ so God-only knows how much she had to sell it for to get a return on her considerable investment, but considering that Grishams and Rowlings are on Waterstone's shelves for not much more that half of that, we can be sure she didn't have much of a chance. My understanding is that she only sold a few to friends and family, gave some away, and that years after the poor woman's decease, the vast number are still in the boxes in the care of her family.

A con, you say. Well, not really, because the publishers did exactly what they told her they would – and from the off she was advised that she needed to market the thing. But, as we know, she had the bug, didn't she?

I have to say that when I heard from agents that they received two or three hundred submissions per week I took it with a pinch of salt. There must be several hundred literary agents in the UK and if they all received that number every week it must mean that half the population are writing books and that cannot be possible.

No? Since having a Twitter account I have realised that that is exactly the case – and not only that, most of them are writing crime fiction. And most of these 'crime fiction' writers have no idea, no experience, no knowledge of police procedure and, in fact, no hope at all – which is why the anything of that genre, is automatically binned by the agents, probably without even reading past the first page.