"A wonderful debut, with emotionally scarred, dysfunctional protagonists who are wired for self-destruction. An original and compelling read."
The move from aspiring author to published author is a strange and sometimes unsettling one. Like poking your head above the clouds you’ve spent years climbing towards, only to realise you haven’t actually got anything to stand on when you get there.
I’ve learnt a lot since last October when I got my first publishing contract but perhaps the most valuable thing is how important it is to be able to market yourself as an author – and how excruciatingly vulnerable that can make you feel.
For a lot of writers – perhaps most – the reason they write is so they can haul up in a room away from the world and make sense of their reality by making stuff up, stringing pretty word after pretty word together to make a story.
They don’t want to shout about themselves or their book from the rooftops. They don’t want to have to think about building their social media profiles or wonder how to get more book reviews or whether they should be on Goodreads or not.
It’s fair to say many aspiring authors may assume that when they land a publishing contract, they can get on with the thing they do best – writing novels – and their publisher or agent will get on with the pesky, business end of things: sales and marketing.
Except that’s not how it is. It’s not that publishers, agents etc don’t do some marketing – but it’s very much part of the expectation that authors supplement it, to a lesser or greater degree, depending on who you sign with.
It’s a busy market, especially for fiction. If you don’t shout about your book, it’ll get lost in the noise. The best book in the world won’t get read if nobody knows it’s out there.
At times, I find the whole marketing side of things excruciating. There’s a reason I’m sitting here at 23.58 at night, writing this blog article. I can’t go to bed because I can’t sleep because I’m filled with angst, not about my book per se, but about marketing it.
I feel exposed. It’s not like marketing someone else’s product or service, it’s like I’m serving myself up on a plate. Willingly offering my exposed neck and jugular. And I’m a digital marketer by trade, I dread to think how it makes someone with no online or marketing experience feel.
The bottom line is, you don’t just hand your novel over and get on with writing the next one – far from it. In fact, you have to spend time you’d rather spend doing anything else marketing your book.
Now, I should feel over the moon. Reviews of Beat The Rain so far have surpassed all expectation – it seems to have hit a nerve with people, especially those in a long term relationship or who have had a breakup.
How I actually feel is like I’m having an out of body experience. All the time.
Because this is me I’m marketing. And marketing my own novel can feel a lot like sandpapering my own skin. I’ve lost count of the times I wished I’d created a pseudonym, an invented persona to bear the brunt of the public-facing ‘me’. Because that’s not why authors write – to stand in the limelight. For me at least, it’s quite the opposite. It’s to hide behind a fiction.
Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ve told you anything I’ve learnt since landing a publishing contract in this blog article – or maybe I’ve told you everything. Either way, it 00.13 now and I’ve got that off my chest and I’m off to bed.
Also, did I mention Beat The Rain? It’s a novel. I wrote it. The reviews so far are really rather good. You should buy it.
*27 Jan 2017 – 26 Feb 2017