Ten Things I Now Know

Ten (trivial and largely useless) things I’ve discovered, come to suspect or had confirmed since making the switch from wannabe writer to contracted fantasy author …

1. Checking your Amazon ranking can occasionally be fun, but it’s not useful. Googling yourself can sometimes be useful, but it’s not necessarily fun.

2. Others are pretty much guaranteed to see stuff in your text that you didn’t know you’d put in there. It’s best to regard this as interesting rather than alarming (especially if the stuff they see sounds cleverer than what you originally had in mind).

3. Even as a complete nobody, if your book’s in hardback it could be a potential speculative commodity for some people: if collectors or dealers want signed copies, make them available. If nothing else, it means you get to watch people trying to put a value on your name on ebay.

4. Even as a complete nobody (still), there’s a chance someone somewhere in the vast sprawl of the internet will want to interview you. Unless you’re a natural, being a good interviewee takes a bit of practice, so it might be worth trying to train yourself not to be too boring or offensive.

5. Writing a second book, to a deadline and for definite publication, is a very different experience to writing the first one, in your spare time in the hope that something might come of it. Whether it’s harder, easier, more enjoyable and/or more stressful probably depends on the individual. It’s definitely different, though.

6. Bricks and mortar bookshops – not Amazon – are still where the main sales action is. It’s therefore handy if their staff can be convinced it’s selling well. If your friends and family seem inclined to buy the book, dispatch them to high street bookstores. Ideally on a carefully designed and supervised rota structured to create the illusion of steady demand.

7. People from your past will get back in touch with you if you have a book published and a website gone live. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your past. Psuedonyms would be indicated for those anticipating potential problems …

8. Some of those you meet will be fascinated by the fact that you’re a published writer. Some will be wholly unimpressed and uninterested. Both reactions are entirely sensible, and both are good for you. In moderation.

9. If you expect people – publishers, agents, bloggers, booksellers, readers, interviewers, anyone really – to be helpful and nice to you, be helpful and nice to them. Not rocket science, that one. Works, though, on the whole.

10. Once the books’ published (as soon as you write ‘The End’, probably) its success or failure is no longer entirely under your control. It may sometimes feel as though you have your hands on the steering wheel, but as often as not it isn’t connected to anything, so just try to enjoy the ride. If it gets too hairy, close your eyes.

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