Seven things I’ve learned since Launch

It’s been over a month since The End of the Line was released! It’s out now! At this very moment, you can buy them herein ebook and audio. In my day job, I’ve ushered perhaps hundreds of debut authors out blinking into the sunlight. I’ve helped them make names for themselves, soothed their concerns and run their marketing campaigns to sell their books. Now I have a book of my own! They always say that you should walk a mile in someone’s shoes and I have to say that there are a few things I understand a lot better now I’ve been the author instead of the marketer in the equation. More than can fit into a single blog, most likely, so let’s start small and look at things I’ve learned in the past month or so.

  1. Launch is a great feeling

Launch day was essentially like having a birthday. It was one of those days where you get lots of well-wishes, everyone is a bit nicer to you and you feel that, for just a smidge, the Universe revolves a little more around you. And there was a party at the end of it. It was a great day, knowing that (hypothetically) people you’d never met or even heard of were now able to pick up your book and read it. Not only that but they’d willingly parted with some of their hard-earned cash to do so and you were going to get some of it. Where it doesn’t quite feel like a birthday is that, to you, the book has been out for ages. On launch day I was only two weeks from handing in Book 2. I hadn’t even looked at The End of the Line for a month or two, I’d finished it. So it was a bit strange to be surrounded by people so excited about your book and part of you is ‘What? That old thing?’ To me it was something I’d had in my life for years but friends and supporters it had popped into existence that very day. Me, I was excited about Book 2. I suppose that makes it more like the Queen’s Birthday? Nevertheless, it was a great day, fueled by the love and support of those around me and such a nice way to celebrate what was, in the end, a big achievement years in the making. So launches are great but in a way they’re not for you, they’re for everyone else. Can’t wait for the next one!

        2. … and then silence

And that was it! The book is out! The party happened. Everyone went home. And so did I. Plonked down in the sofa, ordered a pizza and watched Deadpool 2. The next day it was back to normal. Everyone else had other things to be doing, they have their own lives to be getting on with. After all the excitement, I was back at my desk with two weeks to get the first draft of Book 2 to my editor. Though I’m now a published author, there’s still writing to be done, dishes to wash, errands to run, work to go to. Getting published is a great thing but in many ways it’s not as transformative as you might imagine. I’m a published author… but most of all I’m still a writer and a person.

     3. Amazon rankings are a rollercoaster

They change by the hour and watching my book weave up and down the charts as I sell another copy, someone else sells another copy, I sell a copy could probably consume most of my waking life if I let it. One moment my book was sitting up next to Stephen King, then it dropped off the first page. Then it was back again! It is tremendous fun to see my book rubbing shoulders with some of my literary heroes but I quickly realised that it’s the same as watching the ripples in a lake, it’s pretty, but I’m not getting anything done staring.

    4. Then there’s reviews

Authors will tell you not to look at reviews. They are right. They also, all do it themselves. I can go a week without looking, two-weeks, but it’s always there, the whisper of temptation wearing away my resolve. Then a few moments of boredom and there I go, I’ve looked and I can’t unsee it. That’s not to say they’re terrible. I’ve had some great reviews! But the bad ones cut deeper than the good ones. I’ve often talked to debut authors who have spiraled at the sight of a bad review. I’ve talked them down, explained that better ones are just over the horizon, that every book will have its fans and detractors. You can’t please everyone. BOY, is it different when it’s your book. The book is out there, it’s getting read but people I’ll never meet and they have their own tastes. I’ve had bad reviews calling it ‘too dark for a YA’ (it’s not a YA, never has been and has never been called one), or simply someone has read it, given it a low star rating and the comment ‘I don’t like fantasy’ and I’m left thinking ‘so why read it in the first place? Didn’t you read the blurb?’. People are strange but being a human being, you can’t help but let them get to you. That’s why you should never look at your reviews. When I see a five star review I might smile, might nod and think to myself ‘great, another satisfied customer’ but that moderate high is nothing to the devastating drop when I see a low rating. Humans have a primal instinct to look out for danger and attack, it’s what kept us alive in the savannah or on the beaches. It feels the same way about shifting grass and a low throaty growl as it does about a one-star review on Goodreads, apparently.

     5. Events are wild

I’ll admit, I have loved doing events so far. I’ve attended enough of them as a reader and know what they look like. I’d expected to be nervous, even terrified, but so far that’s not happened. I’ve arrived, stepped up, talked, read and stepped away from the microphone to some applause and thought to myself, ‘Oh, I forgot to be nervous’. Maybe it’s because I’m the eldest child, used to being the centre of attention, but turns out having lots of people listening while I talk isn’t that bad. You meet some lovely fellow authors, you get a beer, so far I’ve been enjoying them.

6. You have less reading time

Let’s be honest, time that I would have spent reading has taken a hit this year. There have been a few ‘life’ things involved in that, but lunch breaks at work these days are for blogs, newsletters, website updates, Q&As for blogs, podcast recordings, and of course there are events some evenings. So free time has had a bite taken out of it  and I haven’t read nearly as many books at this point in the year as 2018. But the work is worthwhile and I’m not complaining.

     7. It’s only the beginning

I’ve got a book out! It’s a nice warm feeling and in the end, I’m really pleased and proud to have made it this far. But here’s the thing, I’ll have another book out next year and hopefully another the year after that. This is only a step along the journey. And what’s more, this might one day be the book people go back to and make a face and say ‘It’s a Gray Williams but it’s rough’. This is my Colour of Magic, my Knots and Crosses (the Ian Rankin book, not Malorie Blackman’s). This is potentially not my BIG book, this is my debut and so many authors don’t hit their stride until they’re a few books in. There’s something comforting to that, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.