I have been thinking about being a debut author and making sure I make the most of every moment because you can only be a debut author once. What has surprised me though is how much of an emotional roller coaster it has been. Moments of feeling totally ecstatic, particularly when you get some wonderful feedback from people you really respect and equally moments of panic and fear. Am I doing enough? Will people really like it? How do I do this? I have surprised myself how vulnerable and tearful I feel leading up to the launch and publication. My aunt was lovely when I told her and she said 'I had no idea giving birth to a book had an impact on your hormones.' And it does feel like that. But then this also feels like the culmination of quite a journey, not just my writing journey but also a personal journey which has not always been easy. (Just so you know I don't see it as the end but I've got to base camp after one hell of a struggle.)
I am a bit of a control freak and one of the things I have understood is that I have to let go of things and realise that they are just not within my control. I am learning to go with the flow! There is also a big risk of comparing yourself/your book with others. DON'T! You are you and your book will have to stand on its own. Comparison is self-destructive.
Do what you can and don't beat yourself up. I come from a PR background so feel I should be doing this massive marketing drive, being on social media all the time, being in your face about #Flight (note the use of the hashtag!). But realistically I have two jobs already and I don't have the time to be doing that so I had to talk to myself about accepting that I would do what I could. Also, I am aware that it can get quite irritating if you are constantly bombarded with info.
You need to think about who you are as an author and how much of you as a person, you want to reveal to the media. For example, I am a disabled author. As an academic, this is not something I have spoken about much so it feels a little strange and discombobulating to suddenly be speaking about it, but I do feel it is important to highlight the fact. Showing children that everyone can write.
The writing and children's book community is incredible but when you have a book deal you suddenly find yourself wrapped in this huge hug as they celebrate with you. They are wonderful as they are just as pleased and excited for you as you are. There is no jealousy or bitterness in this community, it is full of joy - or so I have found. The support is fantastic and they also tolerate you asking really obvious questions (Jennifer, James & Vashti in particular1!). It is another emotional moment when your book is sent out for endorsements. Initially, it is terrifying and then suddenly you find these beautiful things are being said about your book by these people that you love and respect. For my granddaughter, it was far more important that Cathy Cassidy liked my book than the fact I had a book!
Some practical advice I have come across:
Practice the signature you are going to use for signing the books. Little nugget that was highlighted recently. It MUST NOT be the same as the signature you use to sign documents or cheques (anyone write cheques anymore?)
I had a grand plan to use a silver pen but found it does not show up very well on things like postcards so perhaps use something like blue or red so they can see it.
Talking of postcards, if like me you have been lucky enough to have been sent loads of postcards with your book on when you send them to schools, send two. One which you have written on and the other one blank. This way they can post both on the wall side by side.
Website: Look at others, make notes on what you like and what doesn't quite work for you. It is very easy to set your own up particularly if you use something like Wix.com. I was recommended this by various authors and set mine up using it. It was very easy. Don't forget you need to think about your teaching resources too. I would suggest you set the website up as you the author, not just the book as hopefully, you will have more than one book and you don't want to have to set up new websites for each book.
Most importantly enjoy it! I have had a fantastic time thanks to Penny, Janet and Megan at Firefly Press who have made it very easy for me. Also, the ever lovely Imogen Cooper who is just always there for me.
It is the launch this week and that is a whole other story but I've gotta feeling...