Many times over the years I’ve imagined what it might be like to be a published author. It’s the first thing anyone asks when you tell them you’re writing a book. ‘Oh, are you published?’ ‘Not yet,’ I’d say, ‘I’m still trying.’ And that’s how it was, until I found myself in a meeting with my publisher, listening to marketing ideas, agreeing editing schedules, and trying to take in sales information, a flurry of new faces and voices introduced to me, all totally enthused about my work. This was it, the door had opened and I’d stepped inside, into another world. There would be an eBook, out on the 31st March 2017, (the first book for Wildfire, a new imprint of Headline), then a paperback publication to follow in July 2017.
For my eBook publication day, I’d planned a lunch with three writer friends and a fancy-schmancy dinner with family, but then a vile virus took hold, at least my third cold in as many months, and I never get colds. So, in my pyjamas, with a box of tissues, I began the day I’d long anticipated.
I’m a Twitter addict at the best of times, so the first thing to do was check my phone. I was delighted to find it was filled with a festival of good wishes. Still in PJs, I can lose hours on Twitter, I answered the door to a beautiful bouquet from the team at Wildfire, blue thistles and red roses to match the cover colours of Close To Me.
Throughout the day the reviews built nicely and by the evening I was feeling well enough to manage a glass or two of bubbly and a scaled-back meal out, which was probably all the nicer for being a bit less fancy-schmancy.
In the weeks since publication there have been many exciting moments.
There was also a print run for Australia/New Zealand, a beautiful trade paperback; a dozen author copies arriving by courier in a big box! (He probably didn’t need to know what they were, but the delivery guy still feigned excitement on my behalf, bless him!)
The blog tour lasted a week, a new post to wake up to every day, which generated a lot of buzz around publication.
And the audio version was released, narrated by Rachel Atkins who is wonderful as Jo.
It’s impossible to predict how your words will connect with a readership, but after publication, when your thoughts are sent out into the world, something magic begins to happen, spidery lines creeping out from the pages, connecting up, feeding back how this or that part of the book resonated, as though you’ve made new friends, ones who really get what you were trying to say. One reader told me they’d vowed to make the most of the time with their kids, Jo’s empty nest a timely reminder, and someone else tweeted ‘I no longer want to wait for someday, if mine is half as good, I will be pleased’, which as a creative writing tutor is about as good a response as I could hope for. Then there was the review that compared Close To Me to Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, one of my favourite books.
I would still write even if I was never published, but I’m not going to lie, it’s been even better than I’d imagined. So, if you’re wondering if it’s worth all the sacrifice and rejection then the answer is, ‘Yes! A million times, yes!’
Amanda Reynolds - May 2017