‘So what does it feel like to be published?’ they ask me, and I hardly know where to begin.
The thing is, you know it’s coming; with novels you know from almost a year out, given the lead times required for sales and production. It’s mostly a quiet, even a sedate period, punctuated by occasional flurries of activity around an edit or proofing deadline, cover art and cover copy, permission clearances or the lack thereof. In fact it goes dead calm for the last couple of months; the book is at the printer’s, so it’s too late to make changes and too early to be able to show it to people. You are lulled into a false sense of placidity.
Then advance copies are delivered, oohed and aahed over, and winged back out again to bloggers and reviewers and critics who might say . . . who might say . . . well, whatever they like. No time to think about that now, certainly no point in worrying. Promotional activities start to ramp up; I had web, radio and video interviews in the week leading up to publication, each one a new experience. From the afternoon before it officially hit the shelves I was running around from bookstore to bookstore, signing stock and chatting to staff and customers with barely a moment to take it all in before heading off to the next thing, barely keeping up with the flood of congratulations pouring in via email and text and Facebook and Twitter. I’ve spent much of my working life doing project management, and to some extent it felt like the closing stages of a new property opening or product launch – loads going on, all new, all exciting, but there’s no time for contemplation; you see the ball, you hit the ball, you keep it moving. Don’t stop, don’t slow down. There’s a rhythm to it, and I fell into it like the old hand that I am.
Until the moment I stood in front of the Forbidden Planet megastore on Shaftesbury Avenue in London and looked at Gemsigns (proudly wearing its Signed Copy! sticker) looking back out at me through the shop window. And I couldn’t move. I just couldn’t. There was a lump in my throat the size of a 400-page manuscript.
It’s really there, I thought. I’m not seeing things. It’s there. I did that.
I am not by nature a sentimental person, but in the two weeks since then there’ve been a few of those moments. They happen when someone presses a book they’ve just spent their hard-earned cash on into my hands to be signed – and then thanks me. They seem to think they’re the lucky ones.
I know better. I’m published. And that is what it feels like.
You can reach Stephanie on Twitter @scriptopus and check out her blog at: www.stephaniesaulter.com
You can also see an interview with Stephanie and the Free Word Centre here
A radio interview with Cheryl Morgan at Ujima Radio here
And a video of Stephanie talking about Gemsigns here