Well, today is officially publication day, and like last time it's going to pass by unmarked -- the book's been on sale for at least a week, the launch has been and gone, and now it's just me and the Kitten, trying to get number three finished and appease some wrathful editors. But on the plus side, Madame Grendel T Cat is very cuddly today, so that's uplifting in the spirit department. By which I don't mean going shoplifting in an off-licence.
Anyway, I said a wee while back that I'd post things what I did learn on my first year as a write-ist (see the cunning link with the title?) and here are mine pearls of questionable wisdom in no discernable order:
- Never have elective surgery a month before your deadline. Not even if the guy wielding the knife promises on his mother's left testicle that nothing ever goes wrong.
- Some reviewers will hate your book, some will love it, with others it'll be difficult to tell. But the people who come past and leave messages on your website or blog are the people who actually buy your books. Their opinions are the ones that really matter (ooh, how cheesy was that?).
- Publishers are all very, very nice people, but also very, very weird. Working as they do surrounded by other, similar, weirdoes, they may not know this. Try not to point it out too often, or they get paranoid.
- Crime writers are also very, very nice people (well, other than me, obviously), but the freak-quotient is usually unpredictable until after the second pint. Some may also smell of whelks (allegedly).
- Being a full-time, stay-at-home writer is one of the most difficult jobs I've ever done, but apparently it does make me less of a grumpy bastard.
- About a month after nasal surgery, your nose starts to give birth to horrific globs that look like dead mice. If you haven't actually been sticking dead mice up your nose this can come as something of a shock.
- There is nothing more strange (and pleasing in a secret 'tingly' way) than signing books for real people, who actually like what you write enough to come out and see you.
- There is nothing more freaky than having your photo taken for the papers (even if it's only coming out the back door of the courthouse with a blanket over your head).
- There is nothing more lovely than getting your hands on the first hardback copy of your first book (nothing you can do in public without getting arrested anyway).
- Editors know best.
- Find a good agent who can be a good friend too -- you won't regret it (Christ! More bloody CHEESE! Like a gorgonzola factory round here...)
- I can spell 'Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy' with a keyboard, but put a pen in my hand and I can't spell 'Susan'.
- I use the word, 'like' when my publishers want me to use, 'as if'. In any fight, they will usually win (but this is partly because one of them has been taught how to kill a man with a spoon by Berbers).
- People don't like it when you kill off children or animals in your books. So that was me buggered straight out of the gate with COLD GRANITE then ;}#
- If you ever get feedback through a circuitous route that your publishers wish you wouldn't deliver your books so early DO NOT LISTEN! And for God's sake don't hold off starting till later in the year. Finish the sodding thing early and stick it in a drawer for a couple of months. Your blood pressure, life and mental health will be a lot better for it.
- Unless you've been flipping burgers for a living, becoming a full time writer isn't likely to represent a pay rise. But it's a lot more fun and a lot less greasy.
- Just because the person interviewing you for the paper/website/magazine is recording everything you're saying, it doesn't mean you won't find something radically different appearing in the finished article. And the picture editor will usually pick whichever photo makes you look most like an arsehole to go along with it too.
- Your mum and dad will buy an embarrassingly large number of your books to give to all their friends, acquaintances, and anyone who stops at their house to ask directions or read the meter.
- Almost everyone I've met in publishing is brighter and better read than I am.
- Your Amazon sales ranking doesn't mean a bloody thing -- I've been 25th at times and I'm still nowhere near as rich as Dan Brown. Though I am much prettier.
- Seemingly normal people will tell you your book is great -- this is scary. Get over it. And for God's sake don't turn round and tell them it isn't! All you're doing is saying their opinion doesn't matter, or that their wrong. They've paid you a compliment, so be thankful and accept it gracefully. (And yeah, I know I still find this one difficult, but I'm working on it.) Plus they may be a nut-job, follow you home and cut off your toes.
- Deadlines can take all the fun out of life. Especially when they're bearing down on you like a bloody freight train, and you've been tied to the tracks by some moustachioed villain in a black cape and silly hat. You may or not be wearing voluminous petticoats -- it's up to you.
Anyone else want to share their pearls of wisdom?