Pains and joys – more lessons for the writer and self-publisher

When Border Line came back from the printers, I couldn’t bear to open it for fear of coming across a gigantic error or a name missing from the acknowledgements. So I opened one box, took one copy out and gave it my husband, then shut the box. A week later I bumped into my dear supporter, neighbour and kind reader of early drafts, Maureen Katrak, and knew as I talked to her that I has missed her name from the acknowledgements.

Three days ago I discovered I had forgotten someone equally deserving of my thanks, David King. From the other side of the Atlantic, battling with MS and unable to read without voice software, David has read and given me feedback on at least three drafts of Border Line over the years.

I don’t know by what malign convolution my brain has managed to let slip these names as I wrote up my acknowledgements, I only know that these two people should have been there at the top of the list and I owe them both heartfelt thanks for all they have done.

So, dear writing friends, don’t be an idiot like me, keep a scrupulous record of those amazing people who give you their time, their thoughts, their honest opinions and their kindness.

On Saturday, still reeling from the mortification this last discovery, I attended The Linton Kitchen Christmas Fair on a sunny but freezing day.

I set up the tiniest stall possible with 15 copies of Border Line and two or three of my previous novel Unseen Unsung, mostly to prop up the newspaper article about me. In spite of thermals, my fingers froze and my toes seized up on the cobbles. I expected, if I was lucky, to sell half a dozen books. After a hurried re-supply from my husband, I sold 23 copies of Border Line IMG_0834and 6 of Unseen Unsung. For a small-scale self-published author these are significant numbers. So selling in a local venue where your face is familiar (notwithstanding the threat of frostbite) is a better bet than a getting your books onto a shelf in a book shop.

I had two copies left when I took this photo.


27 thoughts on “Pains and joys – more lessons for the writer and self-publisher

  1. Fantastic Hilary? I mean ,Hilary, that is fantastic. Both will do! There can’t be anything more rewarding than selling the words writ down. Congratulations and so glad your years of work have come to fruition.

    • Thank you Gerard. I still feel very unsettled about selling generally and about my new book in particular (it is going to annoy some people). But having people coming for the older book is very confidence-building, as that is selling through recommendations.

  2. Too bad about the missing names, but you have done very well with your stall. My wife keeps asking me what I want for Christmas. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to give me the copy of Border Line which recently arrived.

  3. Hilary, you are WONDERFUL ! You deserve everything you get – including, definitely !, the thrill of making sales.
    As for your friends … they will understand, because they love you. If they did not, after all, would they have submitted themselves to all that hard yakka ? {grin}

      • I understand that: the feeling of overwhelming guilt doesn’t seem to diminish.
        You must do your best to convince yourself that, being a mere human, you’re bound to forget things …
        Sighh …

  4. I am well over half way through Border Line now and of course I don’t know the ending. Mine is an e version 🙂

    It is a riveting read. Yes it will annoy some people but it deals with a subject that is probably closer to many of us than we dare admit. I keep wondering how many of these people you have met, Hilary as they are so lifelike. Is any of them drawn from real life? I am sure there is a disclaimer but go on, you can tell me. I won’t spill the beans.

    • I LOVE that you think the characters are drawn from life. I worry that my characterisation is very thin, because the honest truth is that not one of these people is anyone I know (though as you write they become real to you). One of the reasons I took up writing was that things in my head become very real, so the most productive action seemed to be to turn them into people on the page.

  5. Well done Hilary! It must be lovely (and scary) to sell your novel direct to the customer. And I’m sure the people missing from your acknowledgements will forgive you. [Goes to check mine]

  6. I’ll be reading this as soon as I go on leave at the end of this week (yay!). But I wanted to tell you now how thrilled I am that the book is set in Slovenia – for nearly 20 years I attended a conference in Bled, Slovenia every June (except for the year it was held in September!) and I’ve travelled widely in the country as a result. Slovenia is one of my very favourite places — so I can’t wait to get to the book 🙂

    • Oh wonderful! I first went to Slovenia on the coattails of my husband who was on a conference committee (European Association of Banking History – EABH) and we were royally entertained by the banks a year or so before Slovenia joined the EU. Having drafted the book we returned for a long research holiday in 2009. It is one of the loveliest and sanest countries I know.

  7. Hilary, a hearty congratulations on your sales!! You had the confidence in your abilities to publish and it is selling! As for your “frostbite” and numbing chill: don’t consume any alcohol because you will freeze that much faster!

    I am unable to feel the ache you described in missing a couple of supporters but being a human being necessitates that. Not even computers are perfect!

  8. Great idea and congrats, could you do book readings in the Library where it’s warmer 🙂 I know of lots of singers that busk but I’ve never tried it :/ I finish my noon shift this Friday then I can start to read my copy.

    • That’s a good idea. Our little local library have never responded when I have approached them (probably too shyly). I must be more constructive and suggest some free sessions on writing or publishing. They did take my gift of a copy, though it has to go through a central library before it is accepted.

    • Maybe. It was very funny, I’d be talking to someone and then they would look down and say, ‘Oh you’ve got your book here!’. Perhaps some of them never realised, though I usually managed to bring it to attention. I had lessons from kindly stallholders around me.

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