So, today is publication day for Home on Folly Farm (it's all right, you can go and look, I'll wait)....
... so I thought I'd take this opportunity to let you in to some Secrets From My Brain about being published, publishing and the whole Becoming A Published Author thing.
I used to think that all I ever wanted was to be published. Once would do. One book, out there in the world with my name on, that would make me happy. But it's suprising how that goes. I got one book out. Then I discovered the world of reviews and my view of being published changed. I didn't just want one book out there, I wanted one book that had great reviews. Then I wanted a book that had lots of reviews, never mind how great they were. Then I wanted to be in bookshops (remember those?). It never stops, the always wanting the next thing, always thinking 'oh, yes, they might only have give this book four stars, but they are going to LOVE the next one', always trying to outdo the book you wrote before.
You can never stop. Each book pulls along a string of your previously published books (known as your 'backlist') and inspires confidence for your next one. So, for example, Folly Farm has just been published but, to me, it's already an 'old' book. My editor has the next book, which she's working on now, and I am 40k into the new new book, provisionally titled Backstory. My mind, however, is currently working on the new new new book about an exploding house. You don't just publish one book and then lie back eating grapes and name dropping Margaret Atwood. You send one book out into the ether and then you get on with the next one. And the next one. To the extent that, when people ask you questions about your just-published novel, you have to go away and look up the storyline, just to remember who's in it and what they do.
Publication day is what you make it. This took me a long time to learn. Somehow I believed that, like with my birthday, everyone would magically know it was a special day for me and would work away behind the scenes to surprise me with hand-crafted items, calls, cards and even, in some cases, balloons. This does not happen. Just as with birthdays, publication day is just a normal day for everyone else. I know some people have trained their family into treating them with all the deference that is due every author on the day their book comes out in the world, but here it's only me and the dog and she's not impressed at all. So I try to make publication day special for me. See above re grapes and Margaret Atwood. Plus I try to take the day off work and flop about in front of the computer, 'liking' Tweets and regularly putting BUY MY BOOK on Facebook.
Gratitude. I am so, so grateful to everyone who has struggled to get my book out there - from my agent (who has always wanted me to write a book about sheep. I worry about her) to my publishers who made it happen; the book bloggers who take part in the blog tour that raises the profile (and who do a lot of sterling work behind the scenes), right through to you, the reading public, who buy my books. Unless you are a relation of mine reading this, in which case, get off the computer and go and do something useful. Like buying my book. Every time someone says 'ooh, I read one of your books!' my first reaction is not 'which one?' or 'did you enjoy it?' but sheer gratefulness that someone has seen fit to part with money in order to buy one of my books. And gratitude that I am here, able to enjoy that sensation of having books out there in the world. And reviewers. All authors are pathetically grateful to reviewers. Even people who leave one star reviews and poorly spelled, grammatically incorrect write-ups. It's still a review.
Right, now if you will excuse me, I am off to wallow about drinking tea, eating cake and celebrating my latest release. I might even get dressed later.