7 September 2015

Pros(e) and cons

Being a perfectionist renders decision-making extremely difficult and that was never more true than when I was working towards publication of my novel. 

Finalising the content was the first major dilemma. My writing group had raised many issues: from simple continuity errors to more subtle questions, such as whether a particular character should show more emotion.

Although I'd made a lot of revisions, I'd chosen to add some points to the 'I'm not sure about this' list that I'd begun following initial feedback from agents and other writing professionals. 

Ahead of every redraft, I reviewed this list and ummed and ahhed about which of the advice to adopt. Input from others can leave any writer confused; given my personality type, I felt as if I was drowning in a sea of uncertainty.

Submitting the final manuscript to the publishers wasn't the end of my tribulations. I still had to draft acknowledgements, an author biography and back cover 'blurb', and agree the cover design. I sought guidance from friends and fellow writers, which only led to more confusion, as conflicting advice streamed into my inbox.

Now that my novel is in print, of course, all of the decisions I made along the way - whether right or wrong - are irreversible. My problems still aren't over, however, as new challenges have emerged. 

Over the last few months, I've focussed on promoting my book and have quickly discovered that putting yourself out there means giving up a degree of control.

While I was gratified that one newspaper had run my press release word for word, I was dismayed to see that an advertisement had obliterated the last line of each column of the article; the flaw niggled at me for days.

Another piece was based on an interview and included some joky comments I'd made in passing that I thought made me sound silly. I realised that while you may not be able to influence how other people present you, you can - and should - monitor what you say in the first place.

Even participating in written author interviews has brought problems, in spite of the fact that I've had complete control over these. OCD sufferers tend to mull over, and worry, about things they've said, wondering, for example, whether they might have upset anybody.

And so I've agonised over my responses, especially to questions such as 'What advice would you give to new writers?' It feels as if I'm suddenly in a position of, if not power, at least responsibility, and I fear giving the wrong answer. In reality, there's no such thing - my writing experience is unique and personal to me. 

None of the publicity has been bad, however, and I'm grateful for all of it. Fortunately, it's early days in my media career and what I've learned so far is that I still have a lot to learn!

And my efforts are paying off, with 178 books sold via retailers in the first two weeks after release and 61 sold face to face to date - thank you to everyone who has supported me. Now that my novel has a readership, it makes all the struggles worthwhile.

You can read the feature here and the article - without the missing lines! - here.


Unknown said...

Hello Helen

Congratulations and thanks for sharing. The second link to your article doesn't work. Thought you'd like to know.
Go on with the great work!

Anonymous said...

I'm in the middle of your novel now and really enjoying it. Congratulations on your success!

Helen Barbour said...

Karin, thanks for your encouragement - and for letting me know about the link...now fixed!

Helen Barbour said...

ocdtalk, I'm so glad you're enjoying my novel - I look forward to hearing your final verdict in due course!

Emily Benet said...

Well done on the hard work! It's so difficult to get press coverage and it sounds to me like you're doing brilliantly so don't beat yourself up about any of it! X

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks, Emily, I quite enjoy this aspect of the process, but promotion certainly eats into writing time...there just aren't enough hours in the day, are there?!?!

Georgia Rose said...

I emphasise completely with you. I've just been through the same process - and all those decisions and endless debates on what might be the right way to go, or the wrong way. I make so many changes to my work as well based on feedback it drives me crazy. We all know you can't please everyone so there is no point trying to do anything other than please yourself and hope that someone else 'gets it'! Congratulations on getting your novel out there - I shall add it to my topping TBR list :-)

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks for the feedback, Georgia, and I hope you enjoy my novel when it reaches the top of your TBR list!