Of all the stages of self-publishing the worst, for me at least, is the one I’m at now – waiting for the books to arrive from the printers. It’s too late to change anything, and I dread the possibility that I’ve got something wrong that will haunt me until the re-print. And I keep wondering, who is going to buy them, or will they languish in the storage locker until the covers curl?
Everything’s down to me, and at this stage that means promotion, promotion, promotion : trying to get information out there so previous readers know that the latest book is ready. Can I persuade new readers to buy a copy and enjoy it so much they read the previous books too? I’ve spent most of the morning designing a flyer, knowing very little about how to do so, and hoping that it’ll serve its purpose. I ordered enough to leave in local venues, and take with me to the talks and meetings lined up for the coming month. On a smaller scale, this is the same calculation that you make about how many books to print – the more the cheaper, but it all costs. When does an enjoyable hobby turns into a financial gamble? ‘You have to speculate to accumulate’…yes I know that, but it still bothers me.
At the back of my mind already are shreds of plot for the next book, and the current one isn’t even on sale yet. A wet walk along the coast from Whitehaven to St Bees yesterday filled my mind with ideas and images. Sometimes I feel I should break away from the local Cumbrian backdrop of my stories, but the sense of place is so strong that it keeps me in thrall. This is where I live and think and do my writing, and I’m not sure I could craft stories with any conviction about anywhere else, not yet at least.
So for the next few days, until the new book arrives, I just worry. Will it sell? Will any reviewers like it? Will the characters be strong enough to sustain another story, or another trilogy? Is the timeframe I’ve set myself too tight? Am I loading too much pressure on myself, when I should be more relaxed and taking the days as they come? For a while, when I’m busy running around promoting the book in person the long term anxieties will move to the back of my mind, but they’ll still be niggling away in the middle of the night.
Maybe the current fraught frame of mind stems from my recent long travels and jet-lag and will wear off. I certainly hope so!