My pre-publication self would have rolled her eyes at the thought, but until Facebook reminded me it’s two years this week since Shadow Man was published, I’d actually forgotten.
How on earth could I have done that? When I started writing Shadow Man getting published seemed like a writer’s equivalent of winning the lottery – logic tells you it’s destined to be out of reach forever, but in your day-dreaming moments, you can’t help thinking how wonderful, how amazing, how perfect everything about your life would be if only … then one day, it happens!
Getting your book out there (particularly if you win a first novel competition, like I did) is an amazing thing, of course it is. With more books and more routes to publication available than ever before, if you’ve got to the stage where people are happily handing over their cash to read the words you’ve put out there, well done! Give yourself a huge pat on the back and take time to enjoy what you’ve achieved.
Thing is, though, unless you get a mega-deal (currently rarer than hen’s teeth), your life isn’t going to change that much. You’re still the same person, with the same insecurities and the same hang-ups – you’re just exposing them to more people now, particularly on social media (so do read that tweet again before putting it out there, because they don’t all age well …)
So to finish, here’s a quick round-up of what I’ve learned so far:
Interacting with readers – at festivals, or on social media – is one of the best things ever!
This really surprised me, because I do have massive social anxiety (there, I said it). But somehow talking about books and writing feels infinitely less scary than being just me, so I absolutely love doing events and the like. And touch wood, so far people seem to enjoy what I do too.
Other writers are (mainly) incredibly supportive
Because they’ve all been there. And even the incredibly successful ones have the same hang-ups about their writing as newbies like me – which absolutely blew my mind when I realised it. But why wouldn’t they? We’re all on the same path, all trying to write a really good book. And that never changes, no matter how successful we get. (On the other hand, see above about personality – if you’re a natural-born git, that’s unlikely to change no matter what your level of success 😉 )
No path to publication is more valid than any other
It used to be that self-publishing was sneered at. I think that’s changing rapidly, and not before time! Again, if your book is the best you can make it, if you’ve taken wise advice and done everything you can to make it shine, then be proud of it. People will seek out and read good books. Always.
Whatever stage you’re at with your writing, there’s always a next step
I’m currently on book 3, and wishing I could go back and revise book 1! I’m still learning – but as long as people want to read about Lukas and Fergie and the rest of Inverness MIT, I plan to keep writing about them.
Wish me luck!