Things I’ve learnt since getting a publishing contract

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Things I’ve learnt since getting a publishing contract

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.

Things I’ve learnt since getting a publishing contract

Updated: 18/9/19

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 now had two novels published and I’m writing my third. I’ve learnt a lot. 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.

You can’t just do what you’re best at (writing)

It’s fair to say many aspiring authors may assume 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.

The unexpected truth

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.

Marketing yourself is like sandpapering your own skin

Now, I should feel over the moon. Reviews of my debut Beat The Rain and my second novel The Pursuit of Ordinary far have surpassed all expectation. Sales aren’t going to help me retire to the Bahamas yet* but this writing lark is a marathon, not a sprint and most people haven’t heard of me yet.

Weirdly, though, the good reviews don’t touch the sides. The one or two bad ones do, but the multitude of good ones? Not a chance.

How I actually feel is like I’m having an out of body experience. All the time.

Because marketing your own novel feels a lot like marketing myself.  Which in turn 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.


* I have literally no interest in retiring to the Bahamas, so that’s just as well 😀
Beat The Rain - new monochrome cover

Beat The Rain

Psychological Thriller

A love story about dysfunctional people. Can Louise move on from the loss of her lover Tom? Can she and Tom's twin brother Adam really find a way to love one another? Or are they trapped on a path of self-destruction, moving towards a tragedy neither can avoid? Beat The Rain is a moving and vulnerable depiction of a relationship in decline.

At times humorous, at times heartbreaking, it explores what it means to live, to love and to lose.

Semi-Finalist, Goodreads Choice Awards, Best Debut Author.

The Pursuit of Ordinary

The Pursuit of Ordinary

Contemporary Fiction

After witnessing a fatal car accident, a homeless man wanders the streets of Brighton, trying to ignore the new, incessant voice inside his head. But he cant forget the crash, can't get the face of the woman cradling her dying husband out of his mind. Is Dan mentally ill or has he really been possessed by the spirit of Natalie's dead husband, Joe?

The Pursuit of Ordinary is twisting tale of modern life and love where nothing is what is seems.

Finalist, The People's Book Prize for Fiction 2019.


  1. Pablo Ablufia Bodente says:

    Shut up and write books. Etc.

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