Monday, 3 November 2014

The emotional rollercoaster of writing a book

Now that my book is finally on sale, and has spent it's first week at number 1 in the Starting a Small Business chart (thank you very much everyone for ordering) I wanted to blog about the emotional side of writing a book.  This is something I haven't seen anyone write about, and you don't realise until you go through the process yourself.  Nothing can prepare you for the emotional roller coaster of writing a book.  There are brilliant highs, and stressful lows and overall it's an emotionally draining process.

I'm going to start right at the beginning and describe the emotions that I went through during the whole process right up to publication.  It's a long post but if you are thinking of writing a book please do read it to get a better understanding of what you are signing up for.


The beginning is when you first start to think about writing a book. It may be that a publisher has approached you about writing a book for them or that you yourself have a great idea and want to write it up as a book.

At that time you have a real mix of emotions, excitement at the thought of having a book published,a book out there with your name on it.  Doubt was another big emotion at this stage, you start questioning if you are good enough to write a book.  Are you as good as other authors?  Will your book be a success or a big failure?  Will publishers even like your idea?  Will you have time to write a book?

I've been writing business guides for magazines for years

The doubt started to kick in as soon as I decided I wanted to write a book. It does linger with you throughout the process.  I had to keep telling myself that although I may not know everything if I know more than the person reading the book then that book will be useful for them.  I knew from writing for magazines, and training people that I had knowledge others wanted but it's still hard not to compare yourself to others and think 'do they know more than me?'

Book offer

Once you overcome the doubt enough to speak to publishers about your idea the next big emotional stage was the book offer stage.  I had spoken to the publishers at a trade show and knew they loved the idea, but I had to wait for my proposal to be pitched at an official meeting and be accepted by the whole company.  This felt like the longest wait ever and was really stressful and at times depressing.

Once the contract is signed the exciting work starts

On two different occasions the meeting was postponed and I wasn't aware so I spent days waiting for the phone to ring to tell me the news and it didn't happen.  Then I wasn't sure whether to e-mail or whether that would seem to pushy. Or whether the fact I hadn't been contacted was bad news.  I had friends and family ringing me asking me how it went and I had to tell them I still hadn't heard.  The self doubt definitely kicks back in here!

Both times those 2-3 days of waiting felt like forever, I couldn't sleep properly, couldn't concentrate on work, was rushing for the phone every time it rang.  I'm sure once you've been through the process before it probably isn't the same, but when it's your first book you just get so excited and want to know it's definitely going ahead. By the 3rd time the meeting went ahead and I finally got the news I had been waiting for, my book had been accepted and was going ahead.  I hate to admit it but by the time that news came it was somewhat anticlimactic, the bubble had burst.  I felt like I had used up all my emotional energy the first two times and just had nothing left by the time I finally got it confirmed. It was disappointing as I had imagined that moment being so different.

Then the writing starts...


Once the contract was a signed and sealed excitement is the primary emotion. I was raring to get going, spent hours planning and researching and was really looking forward to the planning meeting with my editor.  I love the process of writing the book even though it was done during a very busy time in my life.  I started it in the summer holidays so had my son at home with me, then I was preparing to sell my house so sorting, de-junking, decorating as well as running The Sewing Directory and writing the book plus both my son and husband were hospitalised in close succession! My son then was off school for a month recovering from an operation and my husband spent 2 weeks in hospital just as my son went back to school

But despite all of that I love writing, if I could spend all day every day writing I would be more than happy.  I liked immersing myself into the topics I was covering, researching, drafting, contacting experts to get their contributions. There's a great sense of satisfaction seeing it all coming together and imagining people reading it.  Even though I had to do the writing in short bursts here and there amongst everything else going on I still enjoyed it.  I'd say my dominant emotion at this stage was happiness, this was definitely the bit I enjoyed the most. This was one of the big highs, especially seeing it all printed up and together for the first time - looking like a book.

Red pen ready for editing!


Once the writing is over it's onto the editing.  This was a much more arduous task than I imagined, probably because my book was almost all text - 90,000 words of it to be precise.  Maybe it's easier when you have lots of photos and less words, but I found reading those 90,000 words over and over was really exhausting and draining.  After a few months of going to and fro with my editor Edd, who I have to say did an amazing job and make my book look great and read brilliantly, I was sick to death of the book.  I felt like I could recite it page for page, I had examined every little word and sentence so much I never wanted to see them again. Wwhen it gets to the point that you are arguing over a single word you do start to wonder if you have gone crazy!   I wonder if that's what editors feel like by the time they get to the end of a book?

Thankfully there was a little lull at that point.  I was feeling drained from the editing, I also had moved house during the editing stage so was physically exhausted too.  The summer holidays were approaching so I had a few weeks where I didn't think about the book at all. Which believe me I really needed by then! The book had been sent off the the printers, I couldn't change anything else.


Then it was onto the promotion of the book, this is a real up and down stage.  When you first start thinking about how many people you need to contact, how many free articles you'll need to write for magazines and sites to promote your book and all the work you'll need to do it is very daunting.  The publication date seems far away so it feels like a big build up with no results at that point.  You put lots of plans into place but don't see the pay off until the book is out.

Of course most publishers have their own PR people, as do mine, a lovely lady called Mary has worked closely with me throughout the promotion stage.  However, I feel like you get out what you put in at this stage.  Your publisher is promoting hundreds of books so has a finite amount of time and energy to devote to each whereas for you this is it, the one book, the focus of all your attention.   Also you put so much work into your book you may as well give it the best start possible and make sure that people know about it and ideally want to buy it too.   I don't want to look back on it and wish I'd spent more time promoting it, once it's been on sale for a few months it's old news and much harder to promote.

In the top 1% of books on Amazon 3 months before release

 A big high for me at this stage was when my book was listed on Amazon in July.  It got into the top 1% of all the books on Amazon, almost top 5,000 out of over 6 million books just a few days after it was listed on the site.  That was almost 4 months before the book actually went on sale, and when there was very little information available about the book.  It was so encouraging to see that people had enough faith in me to pre-order my book before they even knew much about it.

The promotional stage was, and still is exhausting.  I remember on one day I wrote 12 articles for magazines to promote the book, I was liaising with what feels like hundreds of bloggers, reviewers, magazine editors etc making sure they got information about the boo, review copies, giveaway copies etc.  Plus planning the launch party, more on that here.   It has been more work than I ever expected but nothing can beat the feeling you get when you read the lovely reviews (check out this one).

Number 1 bestseller!  Plus five 5 star reviews already

On sale

Then came the biggest high of them all, my book going on sale!  After almost 2 years work the big day arrived and people could finally buy my book.  It was both very stressful and amazing at the same time. 

Amazon didn't get their delivery of books in time for the big day so although it was officially published it was saying 1-3 weeks for delivery.  This meant I got loads of messages from people who had pre-ordered wondering when they would get their book and why the date had changed. I didn't know why and it did take the shine off my big moment to know that even though it was officially on sale people still weren't getting their book.

But at the same time my book shot up the charts, going to number 1 in the Starting a Small Business chart, 5 in the Craft Chart and top 500 of all the books on Amazon!  I had never dreamed it would do so well. Before it was published I told my husband I would be really excited if it made it onto any of the charts, especially if it made it top 10.  When it got top 5 I was over the moon, and then hour by hour I watched it steadily climb right to the top (where it still is a week later).

Image from Dottie Doodle

What I'm really loving is seeing the book arrive with people over the last few days.  I've had so many lovely messages and pictures on social media from people saying how excited they are to have received my book.  I can't wait to find out what people think of it. I also think it will be very exciting when I first spot it 'in the wild' so the speak.  When I find it in a book shop or craft shop, on display.  I have resisted the temptation to rush out and track it down in a shop, mainly because I live in the middle of nowhere so it would require a big effort to do so!

Is suspect there will be more highs and lows to come.  If I get good reviews and feedback from people that will be a huge high, but if I get negative comments I know that will be a low.  As much as I know you can't please everyone I've poured so much into this book it will undoubtedly hurt if it gets criticised.   There's also the launch party at the end of next week in Exeter, it will be amazing to see people all gathered there to help me celebrate the launch of my book.

Is guess there's still one big question.....

Is it worth it? 

I'm afraid you will have to wait a little longer for an answer on that one.  Until I know how the book is received, how well it sells, what effect it has on my business and I've finished the UK promotion, plus the US promotion (which I need to start on next as the book comes out in January in the States). 

At the moment I feel both proud, excited and exhausted.  Too tired to objectively look at it, I think writing a book and moving house at the same time was not the best idea ever! In the new year, probably springtime I will do a follow up post to let you know my final thoughts.  I need to have time to recover from the tiredness, and step away from it for a bit.  If you'd like I'll also do a post in between on book promotion.  I've learned a lot over the last few months!

If you'd like to take a look at my book it's on Amazon here, and there's more information on the website which accompanies the book:   If you'd like to read more about my book writing journey then click on the tab at the top right for my other posts.
I'd like to thank all for following me through this book writing journey and I do hope you enjoy the book.

UPDATE - Since writing this post I found this article which ties in perfectly with this post.  It's called Is it worth it to write a craft book? 


itsamistry said...

Mine arrived yesterday (Sunday). I've had a quick glance through it and will be dipping in and out of it as there is a lot of topics which keep popping out at me from the pages. I'm really looking forward to reading it and of course to learn a few more tricks and tips for my business.

I'm so happy for you :)


Gill Towell said...

Very very well done. gill ( @gillymacdesigns) xx

Bossymamma said...

It has been really interesting reading this post. Congratulations on your achievements so far and good luck for the US launch.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting reading! I'd love to read more about how you promoted the book. And glad you liked the pic!

Sewing Directory said...

Thanks everyone. I will work on a post about the book promotion for next month.

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