Today has been a really big day for me – exactly a year since my debut novel Recipes for Melissa was published.
I find it strange even to type that last sentence without smiling, actually, because there is still this surreal feeling deep inside, waiting to find myself in that episode of Dallas. Mature readers will know the one – Bobby steps out of the shower and we find it was all a dream…
So in this bizarre (80s flashback!) state, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what I have learned during this special first year as a published author.
Lots actually but two key things especially. First – patience and an awareness of the long game. And second - not to be too sensitive and ridiculous when a (thankfully rare) negative review rears its ugly head.
Let’s kick off with patience. After Melissa was published in the UK, I was almost in this dreamlike state. I had a champagne celebration with friends, gorgeous reviews started to come in. I was walking on air….and then? I suddenly realised as the launch euphoria died down that it was not going to be about one single book. One launch. It was a career. A long game. I had to retreat to my writing cave on my tod as I had always done to crack on with book two while waiting to liaise with my German publisher about book one in translation.
I worked for a very long time as a journalist and TV presenter so I have been used to things happening very, very quickly. Constant buzz. Daily deadlines. In publishing it’s very different. You have your moment in the sun and then you have to put your head down and get back to solitary hard work quietly in the shade.
I’m certainly not complaining but I do have a much better understanding of the cycle now – having repeated it all with my second book which came out in March. All quiet work solo in the cave… and then suddenly a great rush of activity and PR.
The trick is to learn patience during the stints in between. What is the saying….all good things come to those who wait.
And now onto the second crucial lesson - how to cope with a negative review. Thankfully I have to date only had a few….compared to well over a hundred gorgeous five stars ( phew!). The truth is I knew it was inevitable that not all readers would like my work and I am very, very respectful of every reader’s right to their opinion. You can’t please everyone. Tastes vary. But it is still very hard not to be upset when someone does not like your book.
The advice is not to take it personally but that, of course, is easier said than done. Hear this….at first it really does feel personal. How can it not hurt when a reader dislikes your work? So if you are a new writer or newly published then I would share the same advice I was given. Try to distract yourself by reading your best reviews all over again. Be respectful of subjectivity. Let yourself be a bit sad ( it certainly feels sad!), go eat a large quantity of chocolate and then DO get it into perspective. This is what I have learned. If the vast majority of readers like your book very much, you’re doing great!
And so this evening as I raise a glass to my first anniversary as a published author, I know exactly what I want to say ….
I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to those bloggers who have supported me this past year by giving a new author a chance and taking the time to read and then write about my debut and my second novel. I owe you so much.
And thank you to each and every one of my new readers who have bought my books and also so kindly reviewed them. You have made all those years of rejection worth every bit of the heartache on the long journey to publication.
I feel very, very blessed and very lucky, doing a job now that I absolutely love.
So this evening I raise my glass to YOU.
Thank you xx