It’s been roughly a month since my book was unashamedly thrown out into the world like custard pumped from a Bugsy Malone splurge gun.
It has officially been the most stressful time of my life since wearing a pink dress to my brother’s wedding! In this time, there have been high highs… and low lows. I have laughed, screamed… smiled so hard I had chronic facial pain, drank a lot of vodka, pissed off my loved ones with irrational bratty behaviour and I have wanted to throw up with all the nerves. Yes, one small book has gifted me one hell of an education this past month. There’s been nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way that have smashed my ego into teeny tiny pieces as well as enlightened me, so I figured I would share them with you now!
Oh, you wrote a book? How uninteresting.
Just because you spent the guts of 2 years lobbing yourself into publishing a book from concept to completion, does not mean that anyone is now obliged to give a shit! The fact of the matter is this: you are the only person who really gives a shit. There are millions of books out there written by far more interesting, well established individuals than you, so your attempt at harnessing some interest is already wildly disadvantaged. You need to graft harder than Wile E Coyote to have even a smidgen of chance to register on people’s radar.
Lip service. Lip service everywhere!
People will offer to help you promote your book. People will get super excited for you and your book. However, people will let you down. Relying on friends and friends of friends to hook you up is a dangerous game. Be prepared to do your own legwork because nothing is certain. In the end my attempts at pushing my book came from me, myself and I alongside unlikely but wonderful people who I never imagined would help me.
People will show and tell you what you want to hear. (More lip service.)
You may have a shed load of followers on social media and another gazillion friends bigging you up, sharing posts, saying how fantastic your book is, but talk is cheap my friend. People have their own lives and shit going on that doesn’t revolve around your heart bleeding all over a novel. Also, people are lazy. Saying they will buy your book post haste or leave a review online is never the gospel truth, so be prepared to roll your eyes and scream to the heavens “why does everyone hate meeeeee?!” at least twice daily.
You are not going to be on Forbes rich list for being an overnight literary legend.
Get your head out of the clouds/your own arse hole. Yes, dream big and reach for the stars like S Club 7 told us all to do back in 2000, but also get a grip of yourself. Self-publishing is hugely satisfying knowing that you have control over every aspect of your book, but there are also no 'get rich quick' loopholes to emulating E L James who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey. (I'm sure her healthy bank balance takes the sting out of knowing her books are truly terrible.) Coz she's the exception to the rule, and let’s face it honey, most of us are just the rule amongst millions of other rules trying to flog a book. Write because you WANT to and you love it. Do not see writing as a glamourous, entreprenuerial project and certainly not because you want to retire to a yacht in the Caribbean.
You cannot Jedi mind trick the outcome of your book... and if you have a plan then, HAHAHAHA you're a brave fool.
Your novel is written. It’s published... and you’ve promoted it within an inch of its life. It’s now kicking about on the internets for everyone to get their grubby mitts on. From here on out you have no control over the general public’s reading or buying habits. Your book might get picked up by someone influential and it goes viral amassing to a giant spike in sales, or you may pummel your life savings into a PR team and still your Amazon reports insist on mocking you and everything you stand for. I was interviewed on a national radio show with a legendary broadcasting veteran who has approx 130k listeners to his show. I received only 3 extra sales that day compared to the day before where all I did was tweet something ridiculous but ‘hilarious’ about a banana! You can't plan how well your book will or won't do. There is no sacred algorithm to book sales. You just have to roll with the unpredictability of it all, celebrating your breaks and crying through the madness.
Stressing about something you can’t control is futile. I learnt the hard way after numerous headaches over unrealistic expectations. I defined my success on sales and marketing strategies instead of throwing my hands up in the air (and waving them around like I just don't care), over the biggest achievement of my life thus far... writing a god damn book! My little book is actually doing ok, and there is still a leap in my chest when I see a copy of it or someone tells me how much they've enjoyed it, yet I was carrying on like an insufferable power hungry mutant! Because of my short-sighted mindset, I spectacularly screwed myself before I even began this journey.
It wasn’t until I had a call with my mother last week that I calmed myself down a little. She let me rant like a petulant child and then she said this, “You need to stop this sooner rather than later because you’re ruining this fantastic moment in your life. I don’t know anyone else who has written a book and I’m incredibly proud of you. So, enjoy the feeling of being a published author and stop worrying about sales, promotions, who said what and other uncontrollable forces… now go have a cup of tea!” Bloody hell, mums are great.