Publishing your book: What I wish I’d been told

When my first book was published, the overwhelming feeling after the initial flurry of excitement, was of being alone. Left to your own devices being an author can be a solitary business. In my case, and I know this isn’t true for some authors, I had lots of time to obsess over the book. How was it doing? Did people like it? Was it on sale in lots of bookshops? All perfectly legitimate questions but, not very helpful when you are running through them many, many times a day. I wish I had known not to make the classic mistakes below, so here are my top tips for what not to do after your book is published:

  1. Don’t read the reviews. Of course reviews are important, we all know that. Your publisher will tell you to encourage readers to leave reviews on Amazon or Good Reads or other sites, as it will help the visibility of your book and this is true, however obsessively looking at these reviews isn’t a recipe for a happy author. Try to remember that most reviewers will not have spent agers crafting their review, it will most likely be an off the cuff quick opinion. Some will be good, some will be bad. It isn’t personal. However, reading and re-reading negative reviews will only have a negative impact on you and the way you see the book. So, try not to do it. While the good reviews will undoubtedly make you feel ten feet tall, the bad will have the opposite effect, so steer clear. You’ll feel so much better.
  2. Don’t expect too much from family and friends. While publication day will be one of the most significant moments in your life, for your family and friends it is just another day. Count yourself lucky if you have a super supportive bunch around you, that’s wonderful, but if you don’t then it isn’t a reflection on you or the book. The chances are that everyone is busy just getting on with life. Stop and think about how much interest you take in your friends’ jobs and that may give you some perspective. It is lovely to have your own cheerleading squad who get out there and spread the word for you but don’t expect it.
  3. Don’t check for your book in bookshops. Ok, this is a difficult one. There is nothing like the thrill of wandering into your local bookshop and finding your book on the shelf. When I was on holiday in Australia and discovered The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau in Sydney airport, I was thrilled (and pretty surprised), but in those first few weeks after publication it might be that your book has a limited release. The publishers and retailers may be waiting to see how well it does first before ordering more copies and so combing your local area’s book shops to find your book, only to come up blank, can be a dispiriting exercise and give you a false impression of how the book is doing. My advice would be to check in if you happen to be going in to a bookshop, however don’t go making special trips on a searching mission. Whether you see it in situ or not, won’t make a difference to the book’s overall marketing.
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