In 2013 I signed my first novel deal and had no idea of what to expect. Well, I did really – I was going to becomes super-rich, stand next to the hottest new things on the red carpet, at the premiere of my latest screen adaption, and never suffer from writer’s block again. Right? Um, let’s just say I’ve still got a few (read all) of those goals to achieve! But don’t get me wrong. It’s been an amazing four years. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy bestselling sales, had a award-winning book and, above all that, received reviews that show that my writing has truly resonated with readers. That, for me, is what it’s all about.
It’s a cliche, but it really has been a roller coaster of a journey, with some unexpected consequences of signing that deal…
It’s hard, hard, hard work... My initial reaction to getting that first deal, once I’d calmed down and stopped my happy author dance? That nothing much would change. I’d just carrying on “doing my thang”, that is writing stories and chatting to writerly peeps on Facebook. Right? Er – nope. I soon realised that things were going to be very different. I now had editor’s revisions and deadlines. I had to set up a blog, join GoodReads and Instagram, plus expand my platforms on Facebook and Twitter. These days, at least half of my work time is spent on social media, networking with other authors, bloggers and readers and, of course, promoting my novels. It’s a full-time job which I am now having to squeeze into part-time hours due to other priorities. I love it but during the first six months of being a published author, I put on one and a half stone in weight, which brings me to my second point…
Fitness – or rather, the lack of it… With all the extra social media work, it is very easy as an author to stay chained to your desk for hours at a time. We’re talking writers’s bottom, writer’s stomach and writer’s bingo wings – not a pretty picture, is it?! But, vanity aside, we’re talking real health issues as well. I have a family history of high cholesterol plus a back problem, and after that weight gain in 2013/2014 all the chocolate bars and packets of crisps caught up with me. And I know I’m not alone with this. I only have to read my fellow writers’ social media statuses to know that, like me, they use a tasty snack or drink to either celebrate (a high rank or good review) or commiserate (tough editor’s revisions or a novel rejection). So, last year, I took myself in hand. I cycle every day now, before the rush hour. And I get out for a walk at least once a day. It’s a discipline but on the plus side, I wake fresher and happier and am far more productive.
Money. This was a surprise. Anyone and everyone feel they have a right to ask you how much you earn, because you’re an author. Usually with raised eyebrows and winks and the mention of J K Rowling. NOTE TO PEOPLE WHO ASK THIS – lovely JK is the exception, not the rule 🙂 Just like everyone else, I worry about the mortgage and bills. For the majority of writers, getting published is no financial golden ticket. I’ve no complaints, but won’t be buying the Porsche any time soon 🙂
Sex…and thanks to EL James, author of Fifty Shades, for this! Like money, within minutes of finding out that I am a romance author, people want to ask if I write “that”. Again, usually this is followed by winks. And from the opposite sex, comments that my husband is a very lucky man. NOTE TO THESE PEOPLE – husband is not continually called upon to help me “research” every single hot scene! And nor is anyone else! I’m a writer. I use my life experience and imagination. And romance is, primarily, about the feelings and emotions of love.
You’re only as good as your last book. This is so true and not something I’d really thought about before getting published. Past successes will not prop up current work. In 2015 I was lucky enough to have a bestseller, Game of Scones, that reached #5 in the UK Kindle chart and stayed in the top ten for weeks. It also won an award. Exciting times, in my little world. Yet, two years on, that is but a memory and I’m still striving to produce my best ever work and challenge myself. The biggest danger to a writer is becoming complacent – readers notice. However, I believe this one is a great consequence of getting published. Life is about learning and this applies to our art. Struggling to continually improve is what fires me up and gets my writer’s bottom on the chair every morning. I feel passionately about my latest release, The New Beginnings Coffee Club. It was challenging and a little scary to write but if our books aren’t, then what is the point?