Five Unexpected Consequences of Getting Published!

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 Β is the exception, not the rule πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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 ofΒ love.

You’re only as good as your last book. This is so trueΒ 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?

23 comments

  1. Morton S. Gray says:

    You have hit all of the nails on the head, Sam. I think the only one I’d add is that the doubt crows don’t go away. The thought that the next book might not be good enough is ever present. I’m a few years behind you, as my first novel was published in January 2017 (The Girl on the Beach published by Choc Lit – see I’ve learned you can never waste a marketing opportunity) – just reached the “health review” stage. Lol

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Lol, good on you, need to grab those marketing opps πŸ˜‰ And well done, your book has got such super reviews. Now, get on your bike πŸ™‚

  2. Diane Cunningham says:

    That was interesting to read. I love the fact that I can be friends on Facebook with authors I enjoy. It’s great to be up to date on the news of new books to look out for. Thanks for taking that time with social media. I and my book loving friends enjoy the interaction. Thanks Sam xx

  3. Terry Tyler says:

    This is really interesting, Sam! Now I understand why you spend so much time on soc med. You clearly have the right tenacity, determination, practicality to make this work for you, and it’s RIGHT for you, too. You’ve worked long and hard for the success you have – it takes so much more than just writing that first novel. And you know what they say about overnight successes!!

    It does rather remind me why I don’t submit to publishers, though… !!! These sort of rigours don’t suit everyone, I guess. I loathe Facebook, and the thought of having to go on it on a regular basis…!!!

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Thanks Terry! Yes, not for everyone and hats off to self-pubbed authors like yourself, who’ve done so amazingly well. I really balk at the idea of formatting books etc myself – but I’m not ruling out self-pubbing one day. So many avenues for authors these days, it’s great!

  4. Sue Blackburn says:

    You’re so right. It’s so easy to get on that chair and stay there isn’t it Sam. If it’s going well you’re captivated, if it isn’t you grit your teeth and try, try try again!
    Good for you taking yourself in hand . It will be an effort sometimes, especially if the weather isn’t all that inviting but I’m sure you are all the more productive and feel better for it.
    Inspiring post as ever and keep your wonderful stories coming πŸ™‚ xx

  5. Patsy says:

    People are odd, aren’t they? I don’t recall anyone asking me how much I earmed in any of my ‘proper’ jobs, but I was asked about the pay for writing from when I sold my first short story.

    And the love scenes … Why are these considered the only ones we can’t just make up? If we write about anything brave, clever or which we’re proud of doing for real, everyone asumes it’s pure fiction.

  6. Debbie Viggiano says:

    Fab post as always. Love the bit about the questions asking whether the writing is about sex. Get that too. Not helped by Mr V telling everyone I write erotic stuff (he actually hasn’t a clue!) xx

  7. Linn B. Halton says:

    Weight gains … constant hard work to up the bar … and the winks/nods … love it! I thought I worked hard and was committed in my previous careers, but I have never worked as hard as I do now. But what comes through in your post (and all your posts) is your passion for what you do. And it’s all about that in the writing business. I totally LOVED The New Beginnings Coffee Club and will go off and remind readers of that now. Happy Monday, Sam! x

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Bless you, thanks Linn! I think we all have to be passionate about writing to get through, it is such a hard business. Good luck with Villa Rosso! x

  8. Moira says:

    Oh yes I can relate to all of these. My debut is due out 17th July and I’m having trouble concentrating. It feels as though I’ve been eating rubbish for months, I’m wrestling with my new website (due up soon) I’ve got cabin fever, and yes even some distinctly elderly neighbours ask if I write y’know – THAT stuff. When I say yes, they say they must read it then. What they will think
    of me when they HAVE read it God alone knows.

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Lol, oh all of that sounded so familiar, Moira! Cabin fever, yes! Keep on trucking and good luck with your debut!

  9. Karen Aldous says:

    Feeling the l’urve’ here Sam, but you’re doing amazing and you’re energy never lets up. I’d also agree about adding the ‘doubt crows’ – they’re such pests! Anyhow, keep up the good work because we want to see a pic of that Porche when arrive at your destination!

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Lol, aw thanks Karen – and backatcha. Yes, the doubt crows can be pesky blighters. You think betting published is going to annihilate all the insecurities, but it doesn’t. Best of luck with your new release – here’s to us having matching pink Porches πŸ™‚

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