Regular followers of this blog will remember it all – walking with me through the writing of this book (remember the agony of 2,000 words a day?!) to the pitching for a new agent (was I doing the right thing/would anyone want me?) through the surreal experience of the Frankfurt book fair (7 publishers suddenly in an auction for the book – are you KIDDING me?) to this week. Book launch week. Forgive me – but this took ten years and four unpublished novels so I am going to say it again.
Book. Launch. Week… *pinches flesh*
OK. Deep breath. And it feels right to be as honest as I always try to be here– and I have to tell you that I surprised myself by being every bit as nervous as super excited.
As the very big day approached, I suddenly realised that it was a bit like a wedding. You get so excited about the dress and the cake and the champers that you forget about the marriage. And so it was with me. Suddenly I lay my head down that final night and it hit me that many, many complete strangers would (hopefully) buy and read my book and I began to worry what they might think and say.
It was ridiculous that this had not hit me so fully previously. It is the whole point of being published, after all. It is what we writers want. But I realised that, of course, is not the whole truth. We writers do not want only to be published; we want readers to LIKE our book ..and given it is impossible to please everyone, I started to worry about what people would say. What friends might say even. Some writers seem to have such complete faith in their work that this does not seem to bother them. I am incredibly proud of this book -but I am also wired to worry…
This slight dose of nerves was all in the middle of a whirlwind of publicity which I had been planning for ages. There was an article organised for my local paper the Plymouth Herald plus an interview with the Western Morning News. I was also thrilled to be featured in the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special (current issue) under their “Author’s Secrets” banner. Add to this an interview for a Book Show slot on a European Radio station plus a chat on publication day with the lovely presenter Fitz at BBC Radio Devon. I used to work at the local BBC studios – presenting the nightly TV show Spotlight for 15 years - so this was not only super publicity but a real walk down memory lane for me.
I popped into the studios for the interview, planning to just say a quick hello to a few former colleagues and ended up gossiping for over an hour! Wonderful.
And then there was this huge and difficult question of exactly how to celebrate this UK publication. Abroad my novel is subject to traditional deals and so will be going straight into book shops - first in hardback then mass paperback in Germany. Then Israel, Korea, Brazil and the Czech Republic.
But here I have a very modern deal - in e-book and paperback - with the dynamic publisher Bookouture whose main sales platform is Amazon. You can order my paperback through book shops but given it is not the first sales point, it didn’t make sense for me to organise a book shop launch as such. Also my poor husband was scheduled for a late shift on pub day (he works in newspapers) so a party was not an option either. I was initially, hand on heart, a bit sad about that. But then I felt cross at myself for being ungrateful. So what to do?
In the end I decided to concentrate on all the media activity and to attend the Tiverton Literary Festival to appear on a panel the weekend my book was released. This worked out brilliantly as other panel guests included the very experienced author Veronica Henry…so, despite having no real idea what to expect, I just followed everyone else’s lead and had a fabulous time launching "my Melissa" in Devon.
In the midst of all this my publisher was gorgeous – creating a superb buzz on social media on pub day and , to my delight, the 5 star reviews started rolling in immediately, nudging me up that all-important Amazon ranking and finally helping me to relax and truly enjoy myself. Strangers were reading my book….and loving it. It’s going to be OK, Teresa!
I’d arranged a few glasses of champagne with friends…and then the FLOWERS started arriving. Oh my word. The house hasn’t looked like this since the children were born! After everything finally started to quieten down, I took my husband out for a special dinner as a thank you for all his patience and faith through all the many ups and downs – the rejection and the heartache - that finally brought me to this place. As a published author. (It is his new joke, incidentally – that he is now sleeping with a novelist.)
And so I thought I would leave you today with a little pictorial portrayal of how I got here - as I wish you, as always, all the joy and luck in the world with your own writing and reading.