Yesterday, someone asked me if I was feeling happy about how my first book, The Doll House, is doing.
‘I don’t know,’ I replied, and I wasn’t trying to be evasive or modest or cagey or any of those things, I just really found it hard to explain how I am feeling two weeks after the release of my first book. So, I thought I’d write it down.
One one hand, definitely yes. I am so beyond grateful to every single person who has bought my little book and helped it to reach #1 on iBooks and the top 50 on Amazon. It has climbed far higher in those charts than I could have imagined, and I really am over the moon about that – one hundred per cent, a giddy, not-quite-true feeling every time I look at the screen and see that those chart positions are not a figment of my over-active imagination. But still, I feel weird. When you put a book out into the world, you have no way of knowing what the reaction will be – you have early reviews, which are lovely and help to reassure the nerves, but it’s when the book is REALLY out there, for anyone to buy and read and review, that it starts to feel bizarre. Really, really bizarre.
It’s very strange having the boy from school you haven’t spoken to for years and barely spoke to even when you had classes together message you to say he and his girlfriend have both bought the book. It’s very strange having people you don’t know on Amazon talk in detail about your characters, that spent months and months living in your head and are now living, for a short time at least, in other people’s. It’s very strange talking on Facebook live and realising that more than just your immediate family are actually interested in watching it. It’s very strange having people ask you when your next book is coming out, not as a passing comment but as a serious question with a serious answer. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things are wonderful – beyond question wonderful. But still. They are strange.
When I knew I had a book contract, I didn’t think I would get too nervous about the actual release, or what happened afterwards. I work in the industry and so I know the ropes, and I understand what does and does not constitute good/bad/medium sales. But in the past two weeks, I have surprised myself. I wake up in the night panicking, check my Amazon rating a very unhealthy amount and when I got my first whole-heartedly negative review this week I wanted to cry, even though I spend my days telling other authors not to worry about one star ratings or critical comments. Rationally, I know that it doesn’t matter, and I know that when you release something ~creative~ (ugh, sorry) into the world, you have to be prepared for the fact that not everyone is going to love it. Or even like it that much. And I know that I am very, very lucky to have had such positive feedback from a relatively large number of people. But still. For a second, I wanted to cry.
Anyway, I didn’t – I had other things to do and the feeling has passed. And now I’ve spent the last couple of hours trying to make sense of my next book (which has an actual plan! Unlike this one! I’m very excited by that!) and later on tonight I’m going to ring my mother and have something to eat and try to keep all of this in perspective, because that’s what I think these last two weeks have shown me – perspective is important. Yes, it’s really, really exciting having a book that people are responding well to, and it’s nerve-wracking wondering what will happen next – whether the book will slip up or down the charts, whether anyone will like the next one, whether I’ll manage to sleep all the way through the night sometime soon – but there are other things too. Hundreds of brilliant books far more brilliant than mine are being published every single day, and along the way there will be bad reviews and good reviews and excellent sales and abysmal sales, but at the end of the day, if even one person reads something that I have made and thinks, hmm, I enjoyed that – it will all be worth it. And in the bigger, more important picture, the world will keep turning and the real-life news will keep coming and that, I think, is the point of books – to allow people to escape from their reality, if they want to, to provide another world in which the things on the news are not happening, and to give a few hours of enjoyment to another person – that’s why I wrote The Doll House. And that’s how I’m trying to keep perspective.
I hope you enjoy it, and thank you for reading this too.
If you enjoyed reading this article, my debut novel is only 99p here if you wanted to check it out and make me a happy writer 🙂 Thank you for visiting my blog.