I had what I like to call a ‘poor little princess’ moment last week. Up until recently I have had a book event or a TV interview or something bookish happening a couple of times every week. Last week I had zip, zero and a big, fat nothing, and I felt resoundingly sorry for myself. Also worried. Like, omigarrrrrd, everyone hates my book(s) and I will never be published again. There will be no reserved seat for me at Love Books, I shall not be invited to writers’ lunches, #Convoy will not lend me clothes to wear for events, I will be SHUNNED by my beloved book community.
We all have moments like these. I remember Boykey Sidley saying to me, “Oh you will have a wonderful three months when your book is first launched where everyone will tell you how marvellous you are, there will be lunches and interviews and coffee and drinks, you will be the toast of the town and then…nothing. It will all stop. And you will feel like jumping off a building.”
And he was right (although don’t tell him I said so). I have also had a rather glorious extended period of lots of attention, first with the launch of my second novel 'Things Unseen' at the end of October 2016 and then with the launch of my third book 'Delilah Now Trending' in April 2017. It’s been eight months of thinking I’m pretty damn special.
But now is when the hard work really begins. Because your publisher can only do so much for you, they have other books they have to focus on, and this is where you, as the writer, have to take over the promotion of your own book. It’s tough, and some days you will think “Oh God, I need to think of some new interesting way to promote my book without my entire family and contingent of friends blocking/muting me on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram because they are so sick of hearing about My Wonderful Book and Why Everyone Should Read It”.
But I know from experience that persistence pays off. It took me four years to get published, and that was only digitally. It was another three years before my book was released in hard copy and even then there was only a teeny-weeny budget for marketing (I’m talking the size of Donald Trump’s wiener). Plus my publicist had many, many other books to work on. I understood that and knew that I would have to come to the party. And this may surprise a lot of people who see me speaking in public now, but I didn’t have a book launch initially for my first book because I was too terrified. My book came out in June, I eventually plucked up the courage to have a launch in November, and my cousin interviewed me. Seriously. That’s how much of a wuss I was.
But that was two years ago. Now, I love talking about my books, I love interviewing people about their books, I pretty much don’t shut about my love of books, about how important I think reading is – not just for kids, for everyone. And I don’t do this stuff because I have to, I do it because I love it and I believe in the power of the written word.
And guess what?
I am the author of three books.
I just had to say it. Sorry. But I still can’t believe it. Or the fact that my little old book was chosen for the #EBHomebru promotion.
As this point I should modestly say “Oh, I’m so lucky.” But luck had very little to do with it. I have a small amount of talent, and a huge amount of persistence.
Persistence, determination, grit…whatever you want to call it. That’s what counts the most at the end of the day.
So, if today is the day where it all feels too overwhelming, and you feel like giving up. Don’t. Just keep on keeping on. What helps is to do something for someone else *cue the inspirational music*. It really does work. I shit you not.
Get out there and promote someone else’s book, or arrange a give-away of your own books, if you’ve had no success with traditional publishing, check out the self-publishing options. Go read to a bunch of kids, teach a writing workshop, start a blog. But DO something. A pity party is only fun until the ice-cream runs out.
I feel like I should start singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at this point, but my children made me promise not to do that anymore. Especially not in the wine section at Woolies. Apparently it makes people feel uncomfortable.
But seriously, DON’T stop believing…
You can do this.
'Spire' by Fiona Snyckers
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