You’d think I’d be used to this by now.
Next week my new book, The Last Piece, will be launched worldwide. This is the ninth time that the button has been pressed on one of my books – four times by me as an indie and five times by my publisher – and yet it doesn’t seem to get any easier!
I’m excited . . .
of course I am. I love this novel and the characters that bring the story to life. It’s partly set in Kefalonia, Greece, where I had a wonderful holiday with my family, and is filled with treasured memories. The photo shows the place where a pivotal scene in the book is set and is also where we spent a very happy day messing about on boats.
yet another part of me . . .
is deeply apprehensive. The thing about books is that people read them. And of those people there will be a number that don’t enjoy it and a proportion of them will tell me and the world exactly how much. This is, of course, their right. If I have the audacity to publish my work and ask people to pay for it, then I have to be prepared to deal with the fact that they might be disappointed. After all, it’s not just cash that gets invested in books. It’s also precious time too.
But the reviews . . .
I can’t tell you how hard reviews are for me. The bad ones can floor me for days, sometimes weeks. The good ones make me panic that I’m going to let people down with the next book. We’re supposed to read them all to see if any themes appear that we can address and correct, but I just can’t do it. According to Net Galley – the site where early copies are made available by the publisher to bloggers etc – there are currently 72 reviews with an average of four stars, but I can only tell you that because I just made myself look, squinting at the page through my fingers as though it was a particularly grizzly scene from a Stephen King novel.
And the ‘what if’s . . .
There were barely any of those in my head when I first started publishing stuff. Who was going to read my books anyway? But things are different now. I’ve sold well over half a million copies in thirty six countries, and with each book that goes out I can feel the stakes getting higher. I sit at my desk torturing myself with thoughts of book club readers in their sitting rooms with a glass of wine in one hand and my paperback in the other.
“Well, it was okay, I suppose, but I liked that other one she wrote better.”
“Yes. You’re right. I’m not sure I’ll bother with her next one.”
I know it’s silly but I can’t help it.
It’s best not to think about it . . .
I know this. I have written a further two books since I typed The End on The Last Piece and I’m halfway thought another. It all feels a very long time ago and nothing to get myself in a steam about . . . and yet.
But this is the game that I’m in. If I want to be published then I have to cope with the fact that people will read what I’ve written. It’s part of the deal! In an ideal world, though, I would finish the book and then never learn its fate. My publisher could come to me a year or so after the event and make a throwaway comment – The Last Piece? Oh yes. That one did quite well. That would be perfect. Then I wouldn’t let the fear of how a book has been received colour what I’m currently working on.
of course, that approach is rubbish. . .
Where is my growth mindset? If I never hear what people like and dislike about my work, how can I ever make things better? Without the vital and precious input from the readers, either in clear reviews or in the less obvious barometer that sales figures provide, how will I ever learn what works and what doesn’t so that I can strive to make the next one better than the last?
So, I’ll celebrate next Tuesday with a glass of something bubbly and then I’ll watch the numbers for a bit, and try to read the reviews, and hope that my skin toughens up so that I’m more ready to take it all on again when the next one comes out next April.