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Bookish. Publisher at Louise Walters Books. Reader, writer, and editor. Working class gal.

Monday, 9 March 2015

One year on from publication and the things I've learned

On 27th February 2014 I became a published writer - an author. I can honestly say it was one of THE days of my life. It's right up there with the birth days of my children, my second wedding day, and the day my agent rang me to tell me I was going to be published.

I had a lovely launch party at The Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, where I got to sign my book for the first time. What an evening!

Spotting the book in shops has been a thrill, and it still is. Here's one of the first sightings of the hardback "in the wild" at Waterstones in Banbury, five days before the official publication day:

There's a part of me that finds it hard to believe any of this has happened. Part of me even feels it shouldn't have happened... I don't really deserve it, a little voice tells me. In a way that's true. There is a certain amount of luck involved. Yes, I worked hard on my novel, but so do lots of writers. I found agent representation on the strength of it, and got published by a "big five" publisher. But so do all sorts of books, and some of those are of dubious merit, as we all know. I like to think my novel falls into the well-enough-written-with-a-strong-enough-hook category. The problem is, that's quite a difficult formula to replicate! 

Having one book out there doesn't guarantee there will be another. Currently, I have three "completed" novels under my belt. One of them got a book deal, and the others probably won't. Rejection really is part and parcel of a writer's life, published or not, and over this past year I've had my fair share of rejection. I've cried bitter tears, experienced a massive (but transient) confidence dip, and bored my nearest and dearest with my expletive-riddled whinges. My finger has even hovered over the "unfollow" button on Twitter (I got a grip. I didn't do it). 

Lessons learned: 

1. Rejection isn't personal. Most often it's a matter of taste and/or economics. It's that simple. Publishers are there to do a job, which is to publish profitable books. 

2. Publishers are not there to make my dreams, or anybody else's, come true. The dream-come-true bit is a by-product. 

3. I love writing. More than anything else, I love the thrill of making up people and their worlds. I love getting to know my characters so well that they become (almost) friends. I love the editing process, working on each sentence, trying to make it do exactly what I want it to do. I love hitting delete and getting rid of swathes of excess or useless or bad writing. I know I will continue to write whether I'm published again or not, and after much soul-searching I've realised I have to write the stories that only I can write. In fact, these are the only stories I can write. Hopefully one of them will hit the jackpot again one day. But if not, I hit it once and that makes me a very fortunate writer indeed. 

Happy Days!
Foyles, June 2014