Being Published

This post was inspired by fellow crime writer Rebecca Bradley’s blog post, ‘Do I Want To Be Published?’ (You can read the full post here.), where she discusses her concerns about becoming a published writer. The post made me reflect on my own experiences. Is being published all I expected it to be?

Writing my first book was my hobby and, aside from family time and work commitments, I did little else. Receiving a book deal and watching the process from contract to print – editing, choosing cover art, writing blurbs, dedications and acknowledgements – was an exhilarating experience, culminating in me holding a copy of my baby in my hands for the first time: a moment of much excitement. But once the celebrations are over, what comes next?

Before I entered the publishing world I had visions of authors finishing their books, sending them off to their publishers and brushing their hands together. Job done. In reality, the world of a published writer is wrapped up in book promotion: being active on Face book, Twitter, maintaining a regular blog, in addition to signings and events to promote our work. These demands, coupled with writing a second book, have certainly increased the amount of time spent on my ‘hobby’.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts recently from aspiring authors who feel sceptical about the publishing process and, in the light of the recent news and discussions over ‘sockpuppeting’, increasingly wary about sharing their work. I’m not going to talk about sockpuppeting here, much has been said about this already; suffice to say that whilst false reviews are a blight on the publishing industry, we should remember that the incidents involve a very sad minority of authors. The authors I have met online and in person are lovely people, many of whom can’t do enough to support each other.

I’ve also read much apprehension about reviews, in particular dealing with bad reviews. I admit that when my book was first published I checked Amazon reviews 2 or 3 times a week to watch them coming in, and read them in detail. But why? My book was picked up by a publisher and has been properly edited. Shouldn’t I have confidence in my work? As time progressed, I relaxed into the process. In an interview this week, Michael Connolly said he never reads reviews about his books. Perhaps, as a multi-published author, one could argue that he doesn’t need to, his audience is already established, and as new authors we are merely building our reader base. However, I do think he has a point. It can be damaging to the creative process to dwell too much on the good or the bad. After all, reviews are subjective and purely the opinion of the individual. I’ve only received one bad review and, yes, it did floor me for a while. But this is part of sharing our work and, if the book is good enough, the 1 star reviews will be far outweighed by the 4 and 5 stars.

Whilst I’m grateful to everyone who reviews my book, in whatever format, one of the nicest things about sharing is all the personal messages you receive from readers through Face book, Twitter, by email and even snail mail. Every one of these is special, they make me smile and I’m always slightly humbled and very grateful for the comments.

What has been particularly nice for me is the support I’ve received from fellow villagers where I live. When I’m out walking Bollo, people stop and ask me how the book is doing. I’ve been invited into homes of people I politely nodded to in the past, to sign their copies and discuss characters and plotlines. Only last week, some people who live down the road, having read the book themselves, bought extra copies for family Christmas presents and called me in to sign them. (I did feel slightly guilty since I haven’t even thought about Christmas shopping yet!) All magical moments for a new author.

I love a good yarn and, for me, this is what being a published author is. Not about watching reviews and reading widespread opinions on speculated changes within the publishing industry. It’s about sharing the story. So, if you are an aspiring author, just like I was until very recently, take heart from the fact that it can be a very enjoyable process.

What I’ve learnt is that being published requires commitment, determination and a thick skin to promote your first book and continue writing your second. Because if readers enjoy your first, they’ll be calling for more, and rightly so…

6 thoughts on “Being Published

  1. Thank you for mentioning my blog Jane.

    I don’t think we are alone in mulling this topic over recently. Reading your post, however, is heartening. It has a really great feel about it. Not just the shiny new of first published, but a genuinely good feel factor about it and that’s what I know I’m looking for in all of this at the minute.

    I love how people want to talk to you about it and are interested. Actual, genuine, real life people as well, not just us on the other sides of our keyboards! 🙂 You’re also not alone in not having started Christmas, though I have started thinking about it.

    I hope to one day be able to share equally feel good stories with you and other bloggers, but for now, thank you for sharing your feel good with us, it really does help those of us who are questioning the reality of publishing and not just the dream.

    Thank you Jane.

  2. Hi Jane 🙂 I know the week after I put my book out there, and the rush had dissipated, I felt really down. There is so much hype leading up to the release of your book, so much work that goes into it and then, just when you think you can relax, BOOM! you have to work harder than ever on promotion. And when, for me anyway, those hundreds of hours of promotion leads to a trickle of sales, you wonder what the hell you published a book for. I am laughing while I say this, as I can’t help but write, and for the few people who have read and enjoyed my book, and have taken the time to let me know, it has brought me so much happiness. I am writing my next book for them, which is good considering I can’t but help write it anyway, and now it’s not just me who will read it. I just think it’s a matter of having realistic expectations. Not sure what the statistics for authorial success are, but I bet most of the writers I know online will never be self sufficient as authors (me included) but I wouldn’t change having met them, or the self-publishing experience over the last year. I’ve had highs and lows, but it’s all living and the friends I have are worth every hour of ‘suffering’ I’ve endured lol.

    I occasionally have thoughts of chucking it in, but I have to write, it’s not an option, and I’m a bit of a compliment whore because I still love every comment people leave on my blog.

    I can’t wait until your next book comes out and I’m excited to say I was there for the release of the first. You are one of the wonderful people I’ve met and how could that be a bad thing? 🙂

    Ps – sorry for the essay

    • Hey you! Compliment whore – ROFL, just love that. I agree, we write because we love it & if a few people enjoy, then the sharing is more than worthwhile. Thanks for your lovely long comment, Hone. So nice to see you:)

  3. Hello, Jane. Wow! Dionne was here, too. It’s two of my favorite people in one place! How awesome is that? 🙂
    I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing it. I said for the longest time that I was merely focusing on having achieved a dream, and worrying about nothing else. Sometimes I wonder. However, you have struck a chord in me. We can work our tails off, crafting the best story we can, and then work as hard as we can, getting the word out – after that, what happens happens. It’s all about having no regrets, isn’t it? And after it’s all said and done – no matter how well things turn out – look at the cool friendships with like-minded people we’ve established.
    Your buddy from California.

    • Hi James. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Glad you enjoyed, and you are absolutely right. It’s amazing that writing a novel would bring about so many new friendships. Thanks for stopping by.

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