Non-writer friends often express surprise when they find out I have published a novel. ‘Oh, that must be so exciting,’ is the most common remark, but although there is some truth in that, there are a lot of other emotions involved.
To begin with, there is the self-doubt. As I finish a novel I am often very pleased with it and think it is the best one so far, but as publication approaches, this is usually replaced by very different feelings. Is it really any good? Should I work on this character or that aspect of the plot? Is it all a load of rubbish? At this point, I have to take myself in hand and listen to wiser voices, or the novel would never be published at all and, so far, I have managed to do that.
Then there is publication day. Yes, there is excitement, but there is something else that I can only describe as advance disappointment. It will probably sell a few copies, but I know there will be no zeros on my sales figures. I know the chances of selling beyond my friends, family and colleagues on the extremely supportive Kindle Users Forum are very small. I know that I will be very lucky if this book creeps into the top 30,000 books in the Amazon charts and even more lucky if it stays there for any length of time. I can’t help it, I know it’s silly, but I still want that best seller even though I know it’s never going to happen!
So why do I keep doing it? Why do I keep publishing novels that a tiny proportion of potential readers will even hear about let alone read? Well, the answer lies in my friends’ perceptive comments after all. It is hugely exciting to get even a few sales. It fills me with delight when I get a positive review. It is amazing when someone tells me they read my book and couldn’t put it down.
That’s why I will continue to hope for that day when sales really take off. I will write another novel and another one after that, for as long as I have the energy and brain-power to do so. I will play the waiting game because I can’t really imagine a life without the highs and lows it brings and because the highs outweigh the lows, every time.