Thursday 28 May 2020

My First Lockdown Publication Day!

Last week was a very exciting week for me! Why? Because on Wednesday, I celebrated the publication of my third psychological thriller, 'The Bride'. Although of course, because of lockdown, this publication day was very different to my others.

Contrary to what readers of your novels might think, most of an author's day after the book has gone 'live' isn't spent hanging around bookshops stroking your cover or sitting on the Richard and Judy couch (okay so that doesn't happen now but I still imagine it). Instead, it's spent on social media: posting the news, sharing other people's posts, re-tweeting and thanking all the lovely well-wishers who have taken the time to message you their congratulations. It's very tiring on the typing fingers and mentally challenging trying to keep up with it all as the last thing you want to do is offend anyone.

Flowers from my husband
What I've done in the past to manage my day, is allow myself time to meet up with friends at lunchtime. For the launch of What We Saw, I had a sneaky pub meal with writing buddy, Tracy Fells and for We Were Sisters, I had a beach walk with fellow Bookouture author, Liz Eeles.

I also had evening celebrations - a small one involving Prosecco with local friends for the first novel and a full-blown book launch at the local bookshop for the second. Both fabulous occasions.

There was nothing like that this year of course but I still managed to raise a glass of Prosecco to 'The Bride'. Instead of meeting in real life, my friends and I had a publication day Zoom celebration... almost as good! This was followed by another celebration with my husband and daughter.

Strangely, it was the most relaxing publication day I've had. Nothing to organise and only myself to please!

The following day, I did  something a little more out of my comfort zone. I was invited to be one of the authors at Noir at the Bar Edinburgh. Under normal circumstances, this would involve going to a real bar (I'm all for that!) and speaking to a real audience (not so happy about that!) but, with lockdown in place, it was going to be completely virtual.

I spent most of the day preparing. From the way I was behaving, you'd have thought that it was an all day event not just a ten minute slot but I hate being taken by surprise (it's why, when I was a teacher, I never liked supply teaching). Can you believe I worried about what to wear, what extract of my novel to read, what questions I might be asked and even which room in the house looked least like a hoarder live there (we've emptied my daughter's flat and her things are everywhere!).

By the time I got to speak, I could have done with a real bar, but as often is the case when you stress about things, the event was lovely. In fact, the host couldn't have been more welcoming, there were no trick questions and I didn't make a complete fool of myself thank goodness. If you like, you can watch it here.

So now all the fun and games are over and I've allowed myself to wind down a little. I've nearly completed the first draft of the next novel and am looking forward to working on it before submitting to my editor.

My fingers are crossed that come December I'll be able to have a proper launch for the next book but, in the meantime, the sun is shining, my roses are blooming and I'm feeling proud to have published three novels.

If you'd like to read The Bride, you can buy it here: Amazon

Saturday 2 May 2020

A Year as a Published Novelist!

You know when people say that time flies? Well, it really does!

I can hardly believe that just one year ago, I was celebrating the publication of my debut psychological thriller, WHAT SHE SAW. A very different day it was too as you can see if you read my publication day post.

Happy Book Birthday!

The day started with a frenzy of social media retweets, Facebook shares and thank yous but I was able to take a break at lunchtime to celebrate the launch of my novel in the pub with writing buddy, Tracy Fells. After more publicity in the afternoon, the evening was spent with my good friends and family, raising a glass of Prosecco to my new book baby.

So it's a year on and I have now been a published novelist for exactly twelve months. And what a year it's been. In that time, I've had another thriller published (We Were Sisters) and my third (The Bride) will have it's launch on May 20th. I am also nearing the end of the first draft of novel number four.

Instead of leaving the house to celebrate, the Coronavirus has meant I'm in lockdown reflecting.

So what's this year really been like? Has being a novelist changed things? 

In a word 'yes'.

As most of my regular readers know, I've been a published writer of short stories since 2012 and have had a successful career writing for the women's magazines. You wouldn't think publishing a novel would be very different, but believe me it is. And mostly it's due to this unassuming little word... deadline. What I've learnt is that writing to a deadline is a very different thing to writing when you want to. With short stories, I had my own self-imposed deadlines but if I didn't stick to them, no one cared except me. Now, if I don't meet a deadline, a whole series of things will be affected: the timing of the cover reveal, the hiring of the copy editor, the date the book is due to go on NetGalley, the studio time for the studio bookings for the audio, the paperback printing. In other words, if one thing is delayed, everything else is too. It's not just yourself you're letting down, it's your publisher and a lot of other people.

The main difference is the emotional highs and lows you get from having written a novel. If you write a story and it doesn't get accepted, you just dust yourself down and write another. The magazine's publisher will have lost nothing and you might have lost a day of so of your time. With a novel, it's very different. If your novel doesn't meet your publisher's required standard then that's many months of work and expense down the drain. You will have let not just yourself but your publisher down. If, like me, you spend your life anxious to please, that can be a big weight on your shoulders and that's something you're very aware of.

And don't get me started on reviews! If you're lucky, a magazine might pass on to you a nice comment about your story from a reader. More often than not though, you'll have absolutely no idea how it's been received and you'll never know if a reader didn't like it. With a novel you are at the mercy of reviews (NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon) and although nothing beats the feeling of getting a glowing one, a bad review can send your emotions spiralling downwards.

After three novels, I should be used to all this but I'm not. Maybe I never will be.

But, would I change anything? Sometimes when I'm struggling to think where my novel is going, if I've had some difficult edits or I've received a bad review, I wonder if I might have been happier when I was a short story writer. But then I look at my books on my shelf or in my local bookshop, read the wonderful things people have said about them and remember how proud my family and friends are of what I've achieved. 

It's then I see that everything I've talked about (the good and the bad) is just part and parcel of being a novelist. I'm proud of having written three novels and I mustn't ever forget it.

If you'd like to wish What She Saw a Happy Birthday you can buy it here