Five things a writer should know before being published – Samantha Tonge
By Samantha Tonge
Don’t get me wrong – it was a dream come true last November, when CarinaUK Harlequin published my debut romantic comedy novel, Doubting Abbey. And I’m madly excited about the publication of its standalone sequel, From Paris with Love. It’s been huge fun creating another story based around slightly bonkers Gemma and her complicated relationship with gorgeous Lord Edward. But there are certain things a writer should know about, before signing on the dotted line. ♥
1. They must prepare to come over all teenage-like and spend most of their waking hours on social media. With a book to promote they should frequently tweet and think up interesting posts for Facebook – at least that’s what I tell my family, when I’m giggling with friends online over some silly photo. Then there are Pinterest boards to create and blog posts to email out. Writing the novel was the easy bit! This is where the real work begins.
2. As a consequence of number 1, they should buy bigger clothes in advance. Since promoting Doubting Abbey, I have gone up almost two dress sizes. Well, there’s nothing like a bar of chocolate and hit of caffeine to stimulate the creative juices into producing an effective tweet. And a glass of wine and packet of crisps in the evening is a great accompaniment to ordering book-themed car magnets and postcards from Vistaprint. Following on from this, a writer must expect to try out an array of costly sports in order to get back into shape. So far I’ve invested in Miranda Hart’s Maracas work-out and a new bike.
‘Not everyone will love their baby. In fact some readers will tell them in no uncertain terms, exactly what they thought was wrong with it … A writer should accept that unfavourable reviews are part of the job.’
3. A writer mustn’t expect all their problems to magically disappear. Having finally achieved the dream of a lifetime, they won’t suddenly wake up to living in an amazing mansion or unexpectedly find that all of their cellulite has disappeared. In fact, life will become even more complicated as they juggle it along with new literary responsibilities. Although no longer receiving ominous-looking brown envelopes through the post (rejections) is a blessed relief.
4. They should take a deep breath, as I tell them something very important: not everyone will love their baby. In fact some readers will tell them in no uncertain terms, exactly what they thought was wrong with it. Which occasionally can be useful – it’s always fascinating to see your story though someone else’s eyes. A writer should accept that unfavourable reviews are part of the job – they are equivalent to a lorry driver being stuck in traffic or a sales person facing an unhappy customer. Authors are no different to anyone else – every career can have challenging aspects.
5. A writer should give up entirely on being a domestic god or goddess. With deadlines suddenly issued for revisions and edits, ironing and dusting are not a priority. Frequently I post pictures on Facebook of my ironing pile reaching the ceiling. And my neighbours know that if I’m tidying up the garden, it must be out of necessity because guests are visiting. A writer must learn to let go of the things that don’t really matter. They should prioritise feeding, watering and loving their family – everything else can be done when their book is completed.
Not that I would change a minute of being published! The list is much longer, of great things an author can look forward to, once they’ve signed that deal. Right, I must go, the kettle and biscuit tin are calling. Then I’d better go online, afterwards, and order that pole dancing exercise DVD…
Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold more than 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out in November 2013. Its sequel, From Paris With Love, is out this month.