When I was first doing the submissions/rejections thing, I had an idealistic vision of post-publication life.
That is, I thought it would be pretty much the same as before.
I would have a book with my name on it, but other than that I'd still be sitting in the same chair, writing another novel at the same computer. The only differences would be that I'd have a valid excuse for doing it, and if I was very lucky, I'd get the occasional PLR payment enabling me to treat myself to a Wispa.
How wrong I was! It turns out that being an author requires a multitude of skills – and some of them don't have an awful lot to do with writing.
There's web design, for example. Now, I'm not claiming that my website is the epitome of professionalism, but it's sure better than paying someone else to do it, and then having to email them every time I have a whim to change the colours, and wait around for a few days while they're working on a proper author's site or looking for their lost hamster or something.
Then there's designing event posters and flyers, maybe some bookmarks or promotional postcards... and in my case, labels for gimmicky miniature gin bottles. It makes life so much easier to know how to do all this, because what happens when you leave it to a publisher, event organiser or even a techie friend? That's right – nothing.
While computer skills aren't incongruous with being a writer, public speaking certainly is. Way back when I was a sixth-former, I signed up for a Toastmasters International course, dreading it but knowing it would be useful one day. And boy, has it been useful! If I hadn't had that chance to discover I was capable of it, I can only imagine how terrified I'd be at the thought of giving a reading or speaking to a library group. Even for an author like me, hanging by a thread on the shabby coat-tails of the Z-list, that kind of event is a vital part of promoting the book. And yet the paradox is that writing's a solitary occupation not necessarily done by the most confident or sociable people in the world.
Which brings us on to... telephone skills.
It's pathetic, isn't it? Many of us are scared to phone for a pizza, let alone call a festival organiser and persuade them that our presence will pull in the crowds. How can we ever phone a bookshop and beg to be allowed to do a signing? Well, we can't, so we turn to the more sensible, efficient and, most importantly, written method of communication - email.
The problem with email in the world of book promotion is that no one ever answers it. Ever. Not even to say “Get lost, scummy author, I have more important messages to attend to. Yes, that's right, the ones from pieces of toenail dirt.” So the only real option is to stammer into that archaic and frightening contraption, the telephone.
I don't think I ever will ever master the skill of being coherent on the phone, but I find the other non-writing aspects of being published great fun, and more glamorously author-like than I ever expected. The only trouble is, I'm doing so much of all this stuff that book 2 is in danger of falling by the wayside!
Originally posted on http://strictlywriting.blogspot.com