I'm so happy to get back to my blog after a long hiatus spent writing, revising, experiencing three book launches and seeing those novels catapulted out into the big, wide world. It's been an exhilarating experience, but one that's not for the faint of heart.
After years of self-publishing, in 2021 three of my novels were picked up by publishing houses. The Savage Instinct was published by Inkshares in May, The Secret Sister by Canelo in April, and The Perfect Family Man by Canelo in October.
Here are some of my takeaways from this dizzying year:
- Many would-be authors strongly believe that getting an agent and an offer of publication means their troubles are over and they won't have another anxious moment. That's like saying, once the wedding is over, you'll never need to worry again! Publication opens up a whole new set of concerns: reviews—how will the readers respond? Will they love the book and become your newest fan, or will they pan it or worse still DNF it! Reviews are all-important. Publishers watch them, future promos are dependent on them. Writers find themselves obsessively tracking them!!
- You can't sit back on your laurels and kick up your feet for more than a few days, because if you want to stay in the business, you need to keep writing the next one - or two - or maybe even a few more, just in case the other two are rubbish!
- Accept that not everyone truly understands the amount of time, effort, skill and imagination it takes to write a novel. You may end up with 90,000 words, but that word count is a result of scouring your imagination for the best, most original ideas; extensive structural editing, careful revisions; backbreaking editing sessions and a whole lot of self-doubt and angst. So be prepared not to receive the level of adoration or appreciation you think you deserve—especially from those close to you, some of whom may not even read or comment on your masterpiece! It's not personal. People are busy. Learn to find your own satisfaction.
- Reader feedback is the force that drives you to keep going. I've had some incredible feedback from readers about my books. Dedicated beta readers who take the time to read early drafts and give honest feedback are an invaluable help. Reviewers on Instagram, Tim Tok and Facebook are a dedicated army whose support is inspiring. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to wake up and see a list of Instagram notifications from readers who read your work and have taken the time to post thoughtful reviews and eye-catching pictures featuring your novel. It was also a real thrill to receive personal fan messages and invitations to online and in-person book clubs.
- Don't go into writing for the money! Believe me, there are easier ways to make a buck! And if you don't like waiting for your money then this is definitely the wrong career for you. While some writers hit the bestseller jackpot and get movie deals and spots on Reese's Book Club, most writers toil long hours and make sporadic money, many working other jobs to keep afloat. Do it for the love of it! If you can.
- Other writers are generous with their friendship and form an incredibly supportive network. One of the best aspects of this year was meeting other writers and sharing our experiences, answering each other's questions and generally reassuring each other that we weren't bonkers for taking the road we've chosen. I've also discovered that some bestselling authors truly believe in paying it forward and have been floored by their generosity in providing reviews and shoutouts.