A couple of weeks ago my new book arrived. Twenty shiny advance reader copies ready for dispatch for people to read and hopefully, if I am lucky, review. I had the epub and the mobi files too of course but looking at a computer file on the screen is not the same as seeing and holding the physical copy.
Expected on a Monday, they arrived on a Saturday so when the delivery driver rang the bell I went to the door not in a state of heightened excitement but my default setting of bemusement with a slight hint of annoyance as I had been hard at work in the study.
Once I realised what he was delivering my air of annoyance evaporated. I gladly signed for them and carried them in. That was the first wake up call. Two boxes of ten books are heavy. Suddenly this thing I had been working on for so long had substance and form. What had begun as an idea had somehow magically transformed into a real life book.
As I went to open the box, I had a moment of sharp regret. My mum had very much been looking forward to sharing this moment with me but she was no longer here and so holding the first book in my hands was a bittersweet moment as I thought not just of her but also of my dad who wanted this moment for me perhaps even more than I wanted it for myself. I knew more than anything they would want me to celebrate the achievement rather than be sad so I made a concerted effort to pull myself together.
I felt a deep sense of achievement as I studied the book. The cover looked amazing – I remembered how determined I was to work with a particular cover designer, how thrilled I was when she took the commission. I remembered agonising as I wrote up a brief for her, never having done one of those before. I remembered being too scared to open the email when the first proofs of the cover arrived because so much was riding on it and what if I hated them? (I didn’t!)
I turned the book over and studied the back. Months of work were contained within that glossy cover. Tortuous research and hundreds of decisions came flooding back. Writing the blurb. Urgh! What a task. So crucial. So specialist. I am a 100k word kind of girl, not a copywriter. But I became one.
The author photo. I remembered the fun and games that had gone into finding a photographer and a hair and make up specialist, the agony of the photoshoot itself – they were great, I was petrified. Fortunately, they were so great it didn’t show.
Next to the author photo is the bar code and the ISBN. I remembered all the reading I had done about ISBNs – do you buy your own or not? I decided to buy. A whole new world of, if not exactly pain then acute discomfort, opened up for me. Ah the delights of my application form to Nielsen! You want to know what? I don’t even know what that is let alone how to answer it! Somehow I made it through their form and must have made a pretty good attempt at it because ten ISBNs duly arrived. Either that or they took pity on me.
Below the photo and the ISBN is my web address and if you have been reading this blog for a while you will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of creating my website before I got the wonderful Aimee Coveney on board at www.authordesignstudio.com You can read the blog post here https://goo.gl/CQ08Yt
Opening the book up I recalled the pleasant(!) afternoon I had spent ensconced in the study researching front matter and end matter and creating a page of legalese. I pulled a handful of books from the shelf and studied the layout of these pages. Funny how you never notice these things as a reader.
The dedication was easy. I had always known what that was going to be. So too the Acknowledgments. This has been a long time coming. In best Oscar mode, there were a lot of people to thank.
But wait. I have skipped to the back of the book. What about the book itself? The decisions on how the book should be laid out came back to me. Who knew there were so many choices? Basically, we only notice as readers if this has been done badly. Again, I chose a handful of books across genres from my shelves. Six books. Six slightly different lay outs. Only one leapt out at me as nice and easy to read. That’s the one I went for.
It has taken sixteen months from the moment I made the decision to self publish to finally holding the ARC copy of my book in my hand. Sixteen months of phenomenally hard work. A learning curve steeper than the north face of the Eiger. This is, of course, neatly leaving to one side the years of work that went into creating the story itself.
I am proud that I wrote it but writing is what I do. It is innate. Producing a printed book, however, takes authors into places we would never normally stray. Having trodden the path and come out the other side holding a book that was as good as I wanted it to be was a hell of an achievement. I still get a little frisson of pride whenever I pick it up. I say ‘it’ because no sooner had the books come in than they were winging their way back out of the door to their prospective readers and reviewers. I have one copy left but that too is destined to fly the nest shortly. Then I will have to wait for the proper, non-ARC copies to arrive and experience the thrill all over again.
Today’s blog is the latest in my Flower Seller Thursday collection of writing related blogs leading up to publication day of my debut novel The Flower Seller on Thursday 2nd June 2016 #FlowerSellerThursday
The Flower Seller Kindle edition is now available to pre-order from Amazon via my website http://goo.gl/0Gv8Jg