What do you do a month before you publish your first book?
When I first started writing ‘MOB Rule’, I wrote it for me. I wrote it because I wanted to ‘capture’ some of the peculiar magic and mayhem of my life as a MOB, a life which I realised was speeding past all too scarily fast. Truth be told I wrote it because a friend delivering the Church newsletter said I should. I never could resist flattery in any form.
So I started writing it. And then I finished. Nearly 60,000 words, every one of them written, read and quite probably re-written. What next?
I could bind the dog-eared pages in a plastic folder, stick a label on the front marked ‘My Book’ and put it on a shelf. To gather dust until either my boys, or maybe more probably, their spouses of the future, took it down to laugh, to cry, to reminisce.
I could show it to a friend who happened to be a literary agent, could hand it over to him and brace myself for feedback, could (as his sage wife later put it) ‘send my book out there and let it fly’.
As anyone who writes knows, your writing is part of you. In some cases, and in particular when the writing is autobiographical (albeit with a pinch of artistic salt) your writing is you. And so letting someone else read, dissect and deliver a verdict on it, is a bit like going to your child’s parents evening. Guaranteed to make you sweat.
Sure, the Father of Boys had said it was good. When I’d read him each instalment over the phone or in bed. He’d smiled, he’d chuckled, he’d guffawed out loud. But he’s my husband so I’d expect unconditional loyalty and copious praise. But someone else’s husband, someone unrelated, someone expert… what would they think? With a sickness in my stomach akin to dropping my firstborn off for his first day at nursery, I handed over my ‘baby’ and sat back to wait.
Fortunately for me, the parting was (as the teachers always tell you and you never believe) the most painful bit, and ‘he’ was absolutely fine the minute ‘mum’ was out of sight. The book stood on its own two feet: my agent loved it and amazingly, and gratifyingly, so did Bloomsbury (and in fact another publisher) thereafter.
And so, to cut a long publishing story short, it’s now a month ’til publication day. When ‘MOB Rule’ will be out there to be bought by all of Britain and some of the rest of the world. Or at least by my mother-in-law, and my mum, who will each buy one.
The question therefore is what do I need to do now? To plan, to ‘get ready’, to prepare for publication?
I have been warned by more seasoned writers that the ‘due date’ itself can be a bit of a disappointment. Because, in reality, nothing actually happens. After the agonies of editing, proofing and rewriting, the day your labour of love is actually published can feel a bit like New Year’s Eve. Alcohol-fuelled expectation followed by a few damp-squib fireworks.
Ever optimistic however, and in the hope that my ‘P’ day may, after all, be something special, here are a few of the things I will be doing over the next four weeks:
– Googling myself on a daily basis just to check where the book will be sold. This will stop after ‘P’ day. If reviews are nice, Bloomsbury will tell me. And if they’re not, I’d rather not know
– Avoiding eating that extra slice of Yuletide chocolate log. Never has the prospect of a few photos been a better incentive not to over-indulge
– Becoming a media ‘tart’. Not, I admit, a role in which I feel most comfortable, however on this occasion I will be status-updating, tweeting and blogging for Britain. Apparently the book (unfortunately) won’t promote itself.
So come on…what else should I be doing in the run up to ‘P’ day?