December 27th 2016
Today I sold a copy of my book for the first time. I recently had my first novel printed, bound, published and delivered to me.
This wasn’t through any official, or paid channel, in fact I paid to have this done myself. It’s done relatively easily on blurb.co.uk, and I had 6 editions of my book sent to me, with a cover hand-designed by Alice. Three hardcovers, and three softcovers.
I bought them to give as Christmas presents to my family, for closure, this is what I was excited about a few weeks ago that I couldn’t talk about.
I wrapped up a hardcover for Alice, her Mum and Dad, and my Mum and Dad, and gave a softcover to my sisters and Alice’s sister.
Everyone was so thrilled when they opened it – you know, after the initial confusion. Of the six people to whom I gave a book, four of them asked ‘is this a new one?’ which told me that perhaps I should spend less energy on a previous project, and more time on producing something new, but let’s not talk about that now.
It’s incredibly hard for me to give my book over to someone else because – to describe it with the most cliched metaphor I can think of – it’s like giving over a piece of my soul. It’s awkward for me to talk about, to receive questions on, to discuss. I don’t know why, because I am inherently aware of the fact that to be a successful novelist includes (/requires) people reading your books.
Hopefully I’m beginning to overcome this anxiety.
When I gave a copy to my sister, my cousin and his girlfriend (previously unaware that I’d written a novel) started to ask questions, and I struggled to answer. She said to me ‘you’re going all modest!’ Which was a fair description and was reflected by the colour of my face.
And then I showed my Aunt, and she asked me about the process of printing it, and if that meant that the book was now published.
I wouldn’t call it ‘published’ but it’s… printed. Technically the book has a unique ISBN, and at the click of a button can be sold globally through Blurb. It’s currently private, so that I can print as many copies as I want, but I can change it to public, set my price, and sell and distribute it through Blurb.
I explained this to my Aunt and she handed me a tenner. She said ‘I’d like to be the first one to buy your book’ Of course I tried both wholeheartedly and profusely to both refuse and return her money, but she was adamant. She wanted me to take the money, and get her a copy of the book.
So I guess today, I sold the first copy of my novel, which I guess technically makes me a professional novelist.
My New Year’s resolution for 2016 was to become a professional writer, which I succeeded in when I got a job as a copywriter, as I was now writing for a living.
But with the sale of my first book, even if it’s just one singular copy, I can now say that I am a professional novelist. And that’s fucking cool.
There are many more people for whom I need to get a copy printed, and of course I won’t charge them all, but the option is there if I want it. I think technically this means that if I choose to self-publish, then I can’t be given a book deal because there are already ‘unofficial’ copies. But I’ve sent the book to ~100 literary agents and none of them have offered me a book deal, so why not?
Until tomorrow, I am a professional novelist.