If I Knew Then What I Know Now:
An Author’s Journey With Sophie Hart #7 23rd September 2014
My new novel, The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees, is about to be published by Bookouture, following the success of The Naughty Girls Book Club last year. I’ve learnt an awful lot during the writing of these two novels – both about writing and the publication process.
Firstly, I thought that once you had a book published, you were set for life! I expected that being published – especially by one of the ‘Big Six’ (Naughty Girls was published by HarperCollins) – meant career success, loads of money, and a long future with the same publishing house. I was wrong! Whilst being published by Avon was a huge boost, and I’m so grateful for everything they did, we ultimately couldn’t agree on what the next book should be. Fortunately, Bookouture liked my ideas and signed me up. But it taught me to see my writing career as a journey that isn’t set in stone, and to embrace every experience.
Also, I assumed that the publisher arranged all of your publicity for you – leaving you free to simply turn up at the TV studios for a breakfast interview with Lorraine Kelly, or perhaps meet the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for lunch. It’s really not like that! I remember when I was trying to get published, I read that ‘no one will work as hard for your book as you do’, and I didn’t really understand what that meant. But the truth is that publishers have other books coming along, and publicists have to juggle what they’re promoting – YOU are the only person who can devote all of your time to your book, so you need to do as much work for it as you can. Even though it can feel uncomfortable sometimes, you have to learn to promote your own work.
The final thing I’d wish I’d known is that when everything’s going right, writing really is the best job in the world! When you’ve finally nailed that tricky paragraph that’s been bugging you for days; when the words are flowing freely and you just can’t stop writing; when you finally hold the finished book in your hands; and when you get an amazing review that makes you want to dance around the room with happiness – THESE are the moments that make it all worthwhile!
Tips for the aspiring one
Learn to see the process as a journey, and make the most of the good parts: it’s not a straight elevator ride to the top – it’s a bumpy rollercoaster of ups and downs.
Be prepared for change: my first book was published by Avon, and now I’ve signed with Bookouture. Every experience is different, and you should learn what you can from all of them.
Bloggers are wonderful: as are your fellow writers on Twitter and Facebook. So many people reviewed my first book, invited me to do a Q&A or a guest blog, or even just retweeted me, and this was undoubtedly a major part of making Naughty Girls so successful. There are great people out there, so allow them to help you!