Going from book blogger to author is such a difficult one to chat about as it still feels a bit surreal. I started My Favourite Books so long ago, before book blogging was a thing here in the UK. Basically I had a captive audience as publishers didn’t quite know what to do with me. I’m talking about kids reviews here, by the way. Reviewing for adults and especially the genre market, blogs have been going for some time, especially in the States and Australia whereas the UK was a little slower on the uptake.
I ended up being invited to a lot of publisher events which was fantastic and maybe for the first year people would go: so what exactly does a blogger do? And then you’d explain how you’d read the book, write a review about it, interview an author and such. And the other person would go: woah, that’s interesting and invariably they’d mean it. And very few people would understand how much time it took; because working in publishing was their job and so that’s what they did all day. They didn’t stop to think that blogging was a hobby, but a hobby that took up a lot of time. It made for hugely interesting conversations and chats with publicity people and editors when they realised the expectations they were placing on bloggers were becoming more focussed.
Being a blogger is a weird thing, as you know. You get the proof in the mail or the finished copy. You follow an author online via their blog or twitter or tumblr and you chat to them. To me authors initially seemed a little unreal. Like...they’ve broken through a barrier or something. This was what it was like for me when I started my blog or it can still be said for me, with some super famous authors whom I adore (Gaiman for instance), and a handful of others folks like Robin Hobb or the two Cathys (Cathy Hopkins and Cathy Cassidy). I sort of don’t see them as real. I hope they never read this, but really, it’s how it felt to me. I sort of put my idols on pedestals and when I got to interview and talk to them, I’d be scared and lose my voice (again with Gaiman who I think I scared by gurning at him during a signing).
Whilst I was blogging, and long before that even, I was writing stories. Long stories, short stories. I read countless how-to books and hoped that one day something might happen for me. I started taking myself and my writing seriously in 2008. I just had this moment of: if I don’t start taking myself seriously, no one else will.
I changed the way I reviewed, I got reviewing partners and I started writing before work, during lunch and had dedicated hours after work and on weekends to write.
When I got my agent and subsequently my book deal I fully suspected a little man with a sign to jump out of a closet and go: ha! Fooled you! This isn’t real. It was all fake. The joke is on YOU!
That’s not yet happened, I’d like to point out, but it turns out feeling weird and fraudulent is not so unusual. Everyone gets it –and lot of creative people feel like frauds, like they are going to be found out any minute! I would never be able to be a spy. Can you imagine the paranoia!? It’s bad enough being a debut author!
So, being on the cusp of having people read my book is really weird. There’s this expectation lurking inside me: what will it be like? How should I react? Should I tweet reviews? Should I make friends with all the bloggers following me on Twitter whom I don’t know? I feel like I have to behave like a grown up (I am 41) and the thought terrifies me because I don’t feel my age and I get ridiculous crushes on books and writers and want to share that with the world. So, in the end I’ve opted to not change how I behave online (which is basically how I behave in real life: i.e. crazy fangirl about so many things) because that would be a lie. And I’m not good at lying at all. Also it’s so tiring! Who has time for that? Trust me, I’m a writer!
The stuff I learned as an almost published author?
1. Publicity and marketing people work incredibly hard in the background to do All The Things.
2. Editors are lovely people who want to make your wurdz really prettified and editorial teams are the bone and marrow of the industry. They also like manuscripts returned to them secured with a pretty bow.
3. Cover designers are insanely creative people and I wouldn’t want their job for all the tea in China.
4. Writing is hard work. You should enjoy doing it when you don’t have deadlines because when those deadlines roll around (especially for book two) you will find yourself writing till 2 in the morning and possibly learn how to type in your sleep.
5. Green and Blacks and Montezumas chocolates are lifesavers when it comes to doing edits.
6. You need to cut yourself some slack on occasion. Sometimes you need to just walk away from the internet and your friends and go watch a rubbish movie or tv show because your nerves can’t cope anymore.
7. Walking your dog (or cat or pet llama) is sometimes the best thing in all the world.
8. You will learn who your friends are. Keep them close because they will be the ones to see you through thick and thin.
9. Don’t listen to the self-doubt but do listen to your agent and editor – they will guide you and invariably knows best!
10. Don’t stop reading. Not ever.
Thanks for stopping by, Liz!
Banished is available to buy in paberback and on Kindle now, so go and get your copy! You can read my review of the book here. Be sure to stop by at The Book Zone For Boys tomorrow for the last stop on the Banished tour.