The last twelve months have passed in a bit of whirlwind with house moves, job changes, and of course, the book. Before acquiring my publishing contract for The Theatre of Dreams my forays into social media were limited to a personal Facebook page and a low-key blog about being an ex-pat. Then I had to up my game and reach out into the whole new world of marketing. If writing a book is Dr Jekyll, then I’ve discovered marketing it is my Mr Hyde. And unfortunately one doesn’t come without the other.
I’ve heard it said before that writers can feel consumed by their book. It’s true. It does take over your life. That baby you created, loved and cherished can easily become a monster. The path from pitch to publication is a rollercoaster. There are the highs – the contract, the launch, and the lows – what comes after. It’s been a whole witch’s brew of new skills. You don’t just have to be creative, you have to be tenacious, relentless and/or extremely well organised.
Sometimes you have to step away from a situation to see it more clearly. When Mr T and I lived overseas we made the most of our weekends. We set out with our guide books to soak-up the history and culture of our adopted homeland. We promised ourselves that once we settled back in the UK, we would attack our local area with the same sense of vigour. It’s very easy to overlook what’s on your own doorstep. In the Netherlands we explored towns – the Dutch countryside can be somewhat samey. But here in the UK even within a short distance of home the landscape changes. We’ve spent several recent weekends setting out on walks and hikes all within a thirty-minute drive of our home. Up on the downs or down on the coast, the scenery and the exercise has proved quite liberating. Not only have we discovered some amazing new places, but more importantly these walks have provided the opportunity to gather thoughts and clear some headspace.
I’m a total novice into the world of book promotion but even I have quickly come to the conclusion that checking Twitter to see how many people have liked a tweet is not good for the soul. I can be quite witty when I want to be, but that wit isn’t always spontaneous. Blink and a tweet is gone – and with it another missed opportunity! I can’t be glued to my phone all day. I’m not a teenager and I have to rise above it (and I’d just like to add in here I’d hate to be a teenager today, or even the parent of a teenager. Nobody needs that pressure!). Yes I am disappointed that my Amazon ranking is heading downhill with the speed of an Olympic skier – but my book is just one of many millions out there. It’s very hard to stand out from the crowd. I have to put it in perspective. It’s important to look at what you have achieved as opposed to dwelling on the perception of what you haven’t.
So okay, although not a bestseller (it always helps to lower your expectations) The Theatre of Dreams has accumulated several 5* reviews on Amazon. People have enjoyed it, and that’s why I write. My Instagram account is growing. Twitter – the necessary evil – has to be dealt with. However, I do now have an author platform that didn’t exist twelve months ago and I’ll admit, I should have put more emphasis on building up that following before publication as opposed to after. I blame it on my upbringing – I was always told modesty is a virtue, but in today’s flooded book market, it really isn’t!
I’ve had my moments of serious self-doubt, but headspace cleared, and a deep breath of Hampshire air I feel ready to continue the challenge. Thanks to my publisher, Crooked Cat, my second book, Your Secret’s Safe With Me will be out next year. More news about the book will follow soon – so watch this space, or even better subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any updates!