Also known as Operation Shitmepants.
Over this last week or two, so many people have asked, “What’s it like?” They’re wondering what publishing a book is like, not whatever it was you were thinking. Go wash your mind out with soap and water.
The day of publication will be a massive rush. I’ll sit here watching the reviews trickle in (hopefully) and read each one carefully, trying to catch a trend. It honestly is a rush. In the past, I’ve felt my usually sleepy heart running around inside my chest tapping a stick on my ribs. My hands actually tremble as I read the comments on the website, and the messages coming in via Facebook or Twitter.
The first few hours are a good indicator of how things will pan out over the coming days and weeks. Honestly, it’s a feeling you never lose respect for, it’s a feeling you never want to forget. All that of course is assuming people like the book! I’ve been quite lucky in that negative reviews are few and far between, but they hurt, let me tell you. They hurt a lot. What can I say, I’m sensitive! I use Nivea, so I’m really sensitive.
But that rush I was talking about is the culmination of many hundreds of hours of work. That finished book you see on Amazon or Apple is but the tip of an iceberg.
Planning the book is fun but hell at the same time. I don’t do too much planning because I don’t want to spoil the surprises to come. And they do come! A character says something you couldn’t see coming, or your subconscious mind steers their conversation away from the expected conclusion and opens up an entirely new – and previously unexplored – pathway. That’s the amazing thing about writing: you’re not in charge, buddy. I suppose you could stick rigidly to the expected conclusion, but you’d be missing out on something wonderful if you did.
After the ‘planning’ comes the writing. Writing is the very best bit; it’s where you get to find out how your mind really ticks. You can peer behind that red velvet curtain it hides behind and you can see, experience, what really goes on in there. Everything it presents to you in your normal daily life is a complete lie. I don’t mean just that part that puts on a façade for the world to see, but I mean that part that puts on a façade for you!
There’s more too. It’s working on a thousand levels all at the same time. It’s measuring tone, it’s dictating pace, it’s listening to the words and it’s seeing them, imagining what kinds of patterns and shapes they create as you say them and see them; it’s imagining rhythm. It’s looking out for your characters, assessing their feelings and calculating their goals. It’s managing micro and macro worlds.
And on top of that it’s taking the reader to one side and whispering to them. It’s telling them something’s about to happen and they’re not going to like it. But never explicitly. It’s intimating trouble ahead. It’s also asking the reader a very personal question: what would you do if this were happening to you? The reader begins to feel the things that your characters feel.
Ever screamed at the screen as the woman goes down into the cellar at midnight holding nothing but a candle and her breath?
This is why I adore writing.
Editing though… not so much. I know the story now; there are no shocks in store. But I still have to make sure I didn’t give the game away too much. It’s like exploring a trail you’ve been down a thousand times before as though it was still strange and new.
When you get responses from those few people you trusted with your new baby is when Operation Shitmepants creeps up a level. You have to hope that they didn’t laugh at your efforts; they didn’t use it as toilet paper; they understood it – sometimes you need to be a little more explicit.
But mostly you’re hoping they enjoyed the damned thing. If they did, then anything they find wrong with it can be fixed. And this time around, for me, I’ve had the added tension of having a professional editor go over the manuscript too as well as a proof-reader. My arse was twitching like a rabbit’s nose. But all was good. And relax…
Also this time around, Bloodhound Books sent me two covers to choose from. Normally I produce my own covers (yeah, okay, I admit I’m not exactly a professional designer) but I never get the same rush when creating them as I do while writing the book in the first place. That tells me something.
The covers I got were great. One of them shouted CLICHÉ though, and so even though it was good, I wouldn’t have chosen it in a million years. Every bloody thriller on the market has a variation of that cover. Nope, not mine.
I went for this beauty… I love it!
So we’re three weeks away from publication. And that’s when Operation Shitmepants goes into full throttle. After the ARCs go out there’s nothing else to do until someone over at Bloodhound pushes that big green PUBLISH button.
Those wonderful bloggers grind into action, and if they read and enjoyed your book, we’ll be looking at some excellent coverage, some great reviews written by experienced people who love reading books as much as I do writing them. The End of Lies will be dissected and talked about; it’ll be criticised, it’ll be held aloft for ridicule, it’ll be used as door stop, but it’ll be loved by some. We just have to hope those who loved it outnumber those who didn’t, hope that they’re louder too.
So, publishing a book is the most nerve-racking, heart-pounding, wonderfully enjoyable thing you can do. And I love it so much that I know it’ll be a job for life. Whether any more of my books are published (by me or by Bloodhound) or not, doesn’t matter. It’s the thrill of finding out where my mind can take me that’s the drug; it’s the constant ability to surprise myself that I have fallen in love with.
Look out for The End of Lies, due out Thursday 7th December 2017.