Before your book comes out…

My first novel is published early next year, and I keep finding myself getting embarrassingly, self indulgently obsessed about things that are completely beyond my control. I wrote this to myself, a list of things to remember as an attempt to maintain sanity and equilibrium over the next few months. If you have a book coming out soon, I hope that you find this comforting — or that you’re not as vain, insecure or egotistical as me, and that you don’t need to read it!

1. The book is not you.

2. You have absolutely no control over its success. The people who can influence it — not control it — are working very, very hard. They care. It is in their interests to do what they can to make it successful. Trust them and thank them.

3. Unless something odd happens, you will write another book. This is not your only go.

4. This took a lot of hard work — work that no-one asked you to do. You sat down and worked on gloomy Sundays, when everything felt like doomed homework. You made this work a priority when you itched with fear and wanted to do absolutely anything else in order to distract yourself from it and escape it. If you can settle down and write about made up people when you’re sitting with the urge to rip off your skin, you can deal with one star Amazon reviews.

5. Don’t read anything into the fact that you have read and supported the work of a particular Twitter person and they appear to be ignoring yours. It doesn’t matter that you follow each other. They don’t know you. They don’t owe you. You cannot control the perception of your book by liking and supporting other authors in a blind and desperate way. That is not kindness or generosity. That is manipulation.

6. You’re a middle class white woman, and horribly overrepresented in publishing. Yours is a book about extremely privileged people behaving badly. It could well be that by next February, there is no appetite for that — and readers are fed up with voices like yours and ready to hear very different ones. That is fine. In fact, that would be really, really great.

7. You will hope for surprising, enormous success. You will believe you can trick success into coming for you by pretending not to expect it, and not to want it. THIS IS NOT HOW SUCCESS WORKS. What is more likely is that you will miss lots of small but significant triumphs and achievements because you are only listening out for anticipated calls from billionaire Hollywood producers. LISTEN TO THE CALL THAT IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.

8. As the pre-release plans get going, you will convince yourself that everything good that is going to happen has to happen on publication day. That is not true. Hopefully, and if the other books that you have written and read are anything to go by, people will be discovering this book for a while after it comes out. Buckle up and pace yourself.

9. If you do nothing else for the next eight months, work on your enormous, fragile ego. Hold space for people not to like you — don’t be defensive. Get to know yourself. Acknowledge that your work is almost certainly flawed and ignorant in ways that you don’t know or understand yet. People will tell you about this and it is an opportunity to learn. Be gracious. And do it better next time.

10. But also, trust what you have made. Respect it. Respect everyone who brought it into being. Parts of this have felt very lonely, but you have never been alone. You have done your best, and you are allowed to recognise the good of the work. And you must recognise everyone who wants to engage with your work in some way and remember to respect them too, whatever they think about it. When it’s in the world it stops belonging to you. You don’t tell a story because you want to possess the story. You want to share it with everyone.


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Daisy Buchanan

Feminist, host of the YOU’RE BOOKED podcast, author of various (latest novel CAREERING out now)