What I’ve learned in Five Years of Being Published

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!

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20 thoughts on “What I’ve learned in Five Years of Being Published

  1. Hi Fiona,
    Thanks for sharing your journey.
    You work hard and it’s fantastic to see you receiving the success you deserve for your wonderful books which just seem to be getting better and stronger although they have always been perfectly crafted.
    Hope your successful career just keeps growing.
    Cheers,
    Margaret Midwood

  2. Hi Fiona,
    Five years this year for me too! I treasure the photo of us with our first sale ribbons at the RWA conference in Broadbeach. Worn with pride and in great company–Annie West,, Alison Stuart and Anna Campbell,.
    Congratulations on so many books in that time. I only managed six for Avalon LOL.

  3. Elisabeth, YES, I have that photo too! It was totally awesome getting that first sale ribbon and being able to share it with you and the others; people who totally understood how much emotional pain and heartache had gone into getting that ribbon. It’s hanging in my office now…hmm should dust it I gues….;-)

  4. Janine, thank you so much and I am glad you think my books have brought happiness to readers. That should have been in my reflections, shouldn’t it. Hmm, Martin Seligman will be disappointed in me LOL!

  5. Congrats Fiona – 15 books in 5 years is an incredible achievement 🙂 and good to read your post – I found it insightful.

    Can I also say not only are you a good writer but you are also really good in imparting your knowledge. As I told you, I had lightbulbs exploding in my head after your tut in Melbourne 🙂 I still think about it when I start my WIP.

  6. Congratulations Fiona! Wise words here for both beginners and multi-published. But I wish you had added that you have brought happiness to your readers with your lovely, uplifting stories–they really are special!

  7. Thanks, Kandy. I’m not sure Australians are all that comfortable making statements like ‘I have brought happiness to many’…but I will work on it and promise that in another five years I will say it 😉

  8. Hi Fiona,
    It’s been a wonderful journey for me following your career and your writing processes. You’ve always been a fabulous writer and you’ve just gotten better and better with the passage of

    Hugs and congrats on an amazing achievement!

  9. YES – get started on your next book, cos all your fans are awaiting it. Thanks hugely for this honest insight into your five years of being published. Here’s to many, many, many more!!!
    xoxxo
    Rach!

  10. Congratulations on earning your 5 year pin! As a reader I am glad you are still finding the next idea and slogging through the mud when the writing is bogging you down. It’s worth all your hard work.

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