It’s been a weird eight months.
To recap – back at the start of 2018 I was actively seeking to move from part-time to full-time work. My CV had been dusted down and “creatively tweaked”. My latest novel was out with agents and a few publishers. Life was jogging along nicely.
A phone call from Avon Books UK in the middle of March changed everything and, fast forward eight months, suddenly I have a book about to be launched into the world. (It is a surreal moment when you type your name into the Amazon search bar and your book appears on the screen.)
So how have my random tappings on a Word document in my office-cum-corridor become a soon to be published book?
For those of you not in the publishing world, here’s a brief summary of the process…
After picking my jaw off the floor and trying not to over-gush, Avon sent me contract. I didn’t understand it so I called on some grown-ups (The Society of Authors) and they confirmed I hadn’t signed away any of my children. (Although, to be honest, they were welcome to the nearly 17 year old…) I then chased all the agents who still had the manuscript as getting a publishing deal was all a bit scary and hoped one of them might offer representation – after all, I’d done the tricky bit – I’d sold the book.
I was extremely lucky that the agent I wanted, Louise Buckley, agreed to take me on – probably to stop me stalking her on Twitter. I now knew tons about big legal words and boiler templates so was better prepared. So all I had to do was sit back and let my book baby fly – right? Wrong. Turns out, whilst you busily pen your next novel, there are all sorts of other things going on in the background to get your debut novel ready for the world.
Possibly because my book had been through the NWS twice, there weren’t any major structural edits. This is where you might get asked to lose chapters, delete characters, tweak plot threads etc. I thoroughly enjoyed this stage but then I generally adore editing anyway. The copy edits (errors, omissions, inconsistencies, and repetition in the manuscript) were not so much fun but with Louise’s help, I muddled through. THIS IS WHY YOU NEED AN AGENT.
Meanwhile, Avon produced THE most stunning cover in the history of stunning covers and a blurb. I know a lot of authors who don’t have cover-love and wrestle with their publishers over the final design, so I was fortunate. And in between all the edits I was writing Book 2 – not as easy as you might imagine. With a scary deadline, a family health issue, and a massive dollop of imposter syndrome, it’s nearly ready to submit – but that’s another story. (Haha – see what I did there?)
Time-consuming admin that didn’t even occur to me, like setting up Amazon and Goodreads author profiles, reared their ugly heads. Plus, the job all creative people despise – bookkeeping. Real life plodded along and I started to detest book 2, but every author hits a point were they hate their manuscript and it always works out in the end.
In October, Avon sent ARCs (advance reading copies) to book bloggers and fellow authors to garner some early reviews ahead of publication and encourage people to pre-order. Another frightening phase but one I am relatively philosophical about. I’m proud of my novel but it is what it is. It won’t be to everyone’s taste and I honestly don’t mind that. However, so far, all I feel is immense love for Lucy’s story. #oneluckyauthor
So now the final stage – the promotion. I have my knitted Poldark and my locket ready to don at every opportunity. I’m embarking on some intensive social media promotion – probably to the point my close friends will hate me. And I’ve organised a piece in the local newspaper and a local radio interview, along with sorting a blog tour (with the amazingly helpful Rachel Gilby).
The next two months will doubtless be a blur. Three of my boys have birthdays and Christmas will pop up before we know it. I still haven’t decided whether to have a launch party – slightly tricky with an eBook – but it would be sad to let the moment pass by without celebration. We shall see.
In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. For this author – 2019 promises to be one of the best ever.