It’s five years today since I got a phone call from Mills and Boon in London saying they wanted to buy my book (working title) Outback Baby which became Pregnant On Arrival. Five years and fifteen books later, I still get a huge buzz seeing my books on the shelf and seeing the many and varied translations from around the world. I also get all emotional when my youngest son said, ‘mum you need a banner to celebrate, so he made the one above!
What have I learned in five years? More than I ever expected! That selling your first book is an enormous feat but it means that you have climbed one moutain and many more await you. I have learned that not everyone will like your book and often they are not backwards in coming forwards to tell you. Thankfully, people who like your books tell you too! It’s important to focus on their words.
I have learned that the market place of publishing is a fickle one, that trends come and go, that global financial recessions hit, that some books fly, hitting all the right spots and others have to be torn down and rewritten word by word and that just because you’re published it doesn’t mean you’re free of rejections.
I have learned to cope with copy edits for one book arriving just as you’re deep in the creative flow of another book. People often say to me, ‘so you wait until the creative urge strikes?’ I laugh and say with two sons, a husband, parents and another job the muse only comes if I stick myself in the chair each day. Some days are sludge and others are gold and I wish there were more days when words flowed but mostly they don’t. They just get typed and erased word-by-word.
It’s a tough market out there and sometimes I really wonder whether there is another idea left in me. Then I have a good sleep and decide there probabably is 😉
I have discovered that ideas come from everywhere but I have to listen for the sparks and then give time for the slow burn to generate a full story. I have almost accepted that my process is different for every book, that most stories for me are very slow to start but fly at the end although I have had two books that roared into life and then hit major roadblocks later on. I haven’t yet learned to fully accept my process and not to compare myself to others….I’m getting better but….
I have learned the internet is both wonderful and deadly for writing and needs to be used with caution. I have made some great e-friends and met authors from around the world which has so many benefits but sometimes you need to hole up in your cave. I have discovered that promotion and blogging and writing admin and things like that take a lot of time away from writing and I haven’t worked out the balance yet.
What I didn’t expect was the roller-coaster of highs and lows that this biz generates-the lows of waiting, the revisions, the concerns of ever coming up with another story idea and the fact that I found it so hard to actually START a book. The highs are holding your book, the buzz of hearing your editor say, ‘I loved it’, the competition nominations and wins and letters from readers.
I have no idea what the next five years will bring. I have hopes and dreams, I have plans, but the one thing I have learned is that the only thing I can control is what I write…a lot of the rest is out of my hands. Guess that means I better get started on the next book!