Reality Check: Life as a published author
After the honeymoon period – If getting published is waiting for Prince Charming, what’s day-to-day life-like for the Princess once she gets her man?
A little look at the realities of post-publishing…
We talked a little (well I did, you had to read my waffle) in my last column about kissing frogs and waiting for that publishing deal being a little like the Prince riding in on a white horse; and for now (don’t worry, it will not always be like this!) I wanted to continue the fairy tale analogy, because let’s face it, as avid readers and aspiring writers, this is the stuff dreams are made of.
Personally, I had not really tried to picture what ‘this’ may all look like; life after getting published. Not because I didn’t have enough faith it may happen, but more because I was worried it wouldn’t look and feel like I hoped it might if it did somehow happen and…the reality is…it isn’t what I expected, BUT that is not a bad thing.
I don’t know what I thought it would be like because and I mean this truthfully, I have never dreamed about being famous or making millions of pounds (of course, before you think it, the money would be nice, but I have never fixated on ‘having’ to have it). I also know many of you are probably thinking ‘sure, you are only saying that because you are neither rich, nor famous’ and I get why you’d think that, but you’d be wrong! I actually hate people looking at me, so the idea of ending up in People magazine for heading out to buy milk sans mascara, sounds like actual hell to me.
So my ‘published reality’ is me, being a wife and mum, with my job in PR, balancing book related work, blogging and book reviews in my spare time. It sounds manic and sometimes it is – this week I did a book signing (my first), celebrated World Book Day with some young readers in a school event and took part in a Radio interview, plus my day job. It was brilliant, exhausting, adrenalin-fuelled, smile-inducing and kind of hard to get my head around. I am still not able to process people being so interested in me, which I suppose is because when I think author, I think of people whose work I admire and think, well, I am not like them. But, the magic of it all is, that once your book exists and people start reading and (hopefully) enjoying it, you join the club of people deemed interesting!
Anyway…back to your life pre/post publishing. What do you envisage when you think about being published? Do you immediately fantasize about swanning into your day job and throwing your notice letter at your boss while the office looks on, blown away by your awesomeness? Or do you suddenly see yourself on some writers’ retreat; staring out at some Italian vineyard vista as you tap away on a vintage typewriter, because the real keys just ‘make the creative process’ for you now you have a book deal?!
I guess for some people it is like that. In the world of huge advances from the major publishers perhaps people’s lives suddenly change in dramatic ways. My life is completely different from the times when writing was just my secret little ‘pipe dream’. Of course, I want it to be my full-time job, but, as I have said from the beginning, the very fact that it (my book) exists, blows my mind and makes me so happy, that I genuinely don’t care about the rest. If people are reading it and enjoying it, then I am already living the dream.
I think the biggest lesson I have learned is that you can find time for your passions. If you had asked me a year ago if I could have fit in my promotional activities for Embers around my life I would have replied with simply, ‘WHEN?’ before collapsing in heap; toddler in one arm, PR proposal in hand and dinner on the go.
Life after getting published is different, wonderful and fulfilling. It is busy, but I love that and I love that my time stretches further than I thought it would, because when you love something, you adapt and make room.
I suppose the point of this post is to shed some light on the fact that in the majority of cases, life after publishing may well be a busier, slightly more hectic version of the life you had before. You may not instantly find yourself sunning your face on a yacht with the cash from your advance sticking out of your Prada clutch, but, and most importantly, if you are writing for the sheer love of it, for making people laugh, cry, recoil in horror (depending on your genre I suppose) then you will not be disappointed.
I will qualify all of this by saying that this is my experience and you may well be aiming for and end up on that yacht and if that is what you want and what makes you feel fulfilled then that is exactly what you should push for. There are no straight rules and no fast track; Harry Potter nearly didn’t make it for crying out loud (whether you like the books or not, I think we can all agree it was worth a deal!!) What more evidence do we need that publishing is a crazy, stressful business? But, big publisher or small one, there is nothing like that first review when someone spends their precious free time on your words and then even more of it to share why they loved them…that is PRICELESS.
Working 9-5, what a way to make a living….well Dolly, I am a wife, mother, author, PR person, reviewer amongst other things, so think yourself lucky…..this is a 24/7 job, but, it is incredible.
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