Last week I celebrated the second anniversary (or bookiversary if you will) of my first book’s publication. Not Quite Perfect was published to thunderous applause (from me mainly) on 1st July 2013. I sat back and waited patiently for the call from Hollywood, or at least JK Rowling asking to become my new BFF.
There may have been some issues with my phone that week for these things did not happen. However, my book did become a Kindle bestseller for much of August, some of September and quite a bit of October. The following year, it was published as an actual paperback to rapturous cheers from the reading public (me again but I coerced my husband and children to join in with the promise of biscuits) and nestled happily alongside the likes of John Green and Bridget Jones for a bit.
This year, it has popped on a beret, thrown a string of onions around its shoulders and hopped across the Channel. Once in France, it has flung aside the beret and onions because we don’t do cultural stereotypes. We are regular listeners to Women’s Hour, don’t you know. Anyway, it’s out in French in France. Je suis très contente.
All of these things have caused my brain to wonder (and possibly wander) as I consider what I have learnt from this really rather exciting experience. Regular readers of this blog will know that along with my children, my husband, coffee, Modern Family, Anne Tyler and chocolate brown Labradors, lists are pretty high up on my list (oh the beautiful synergy) of things that I love.
In my top five list of favourite lists (I could do this all day to be honest), is the ‘what I have learned’ list. Other four? Shopping, to do, favourite cheeses, suitable names for a chocolate brown Labrador.
So today, reader friends, I shall regale you with my, ‘What I have learned since becoming a published author’ list. You’re welcome.
- Aside from the day my children were born and the day I got married, publication day really was the best day of my life. You have to take a step back, drink champagne and enjoy it. I’m about to publish my third novel and I try to do this every time.
- I try not to obsess over reviews. Phrases such as ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison,’ ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’ and ‘pass me the gin bottle – I need to get drunk’ are useful. Also, reading the one star reviews of your favourite books makes you feel better. Or the five star reviews you’ve received. Celebrate the big successes, ignore the small failures. I almost sound like a self-help book, but you get the gist.
- Your second book is going to be better than your first book, your third book is going to be better than your second and so on, provided that you listen to your editor (they are basically writing oracles – they know everything), the advice of honest, trusted readers and that slightly batty inner voice. You know, the one that gets the writing done. Listen to her.
- One day you will actually feel like a writer – there will be a moment when you think, ‘I know how to do this’. This happened when I was writing my third book – things just flowed a little easier, the story was there for the taking. That’s a good feeling.
- Social media can be fun but get the writing done first. You can lose days on Twitter but it won’t send you a royalty cheque every three months (some might say this is mean). Words first. Fun later.
- Get on with it. I met Adele Parks (yeah I know, get me name-dropping – we were having coffee with Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars). It was the spring after my bestseller success. I asked her for advice on what to do next. ‘Do you have a contract for more books with your publisher?’ she asked. ‘I do – they want me to write two more.’ She gave me a wry smile. ‘Just get on with it,’ she said. ‘You’re very lucky.’ And you know what? She was right. Two more books have been written and there are three more on the way. I am bloody lucky.
So that’s my list. It’s not exhaustive and it may not be original (apart from the coffee with Taylor and Bruno) but it sums up where I am today – a very lucky, busy author with a bestseller to her name and a publisher who wants more books from me.
I just need to heed Adele’s advice and get on with it.