12 months ago I emailed my resignation to my head of service and took the first step on a journey into a new and different future. It didn’t all go as expected, with moments of intense frustration and fear, but overall I’ve enjoyed the journey, even if the changes have been more dramatic than
A dream come true?
Almost, but not quite.
The publication of No Accident in June this year was the achievement of a long held ambition. I’d love to say it was a dream fulfilled, but publication is the start not the end. With publication comes doubt and anxiety, a feeling of
helplessness as you wait to see whether people will buy the book and like your story. Then, after friends and family have bought the book, you realise it’s one of maybe 3 million on Amazon’s database. You have a lot of work ahead to let people know you exist.
You have so much to learn, so much to do, and that all important next book to write.
But learning is fun.
Most of the time.
I loved designing my website and developing the content. I enjoyed updating it, changing it as I discovered more, adding pages, posting my Robservations blog most weeks. The website grew and evolved as I realised it was for visitors not me. But not all visitors. No, it was for visitors who liked the kind of book I was writing.
More growing and evolving followed, spilling over into my Amazon author profile.
Social media nags me all the time, demanding attention. My Facebook Author Page feeds me weekly statistics, telling me my page views are up – when they’re not down, of course. Authors and people who market books follow me on Twitter. Some I follow back, others I don’t. Hand on heart, I can’t say I’m a fan of Twitter, but I’ll get the hang of it in 2017.
Facebook, on the other hand, allowed me to engage with authors and bloggers through the various groups I joined. It led to Sue Shepherd’s blog party, which I was lucky enough to be a part of. I’m part of several launch teams, helping other authors get their new books up and running with feedback and reviews.
Reviewers and bloggers never cease to amaze me with their love of books. They publish book reviews and guest posts on an almost daily basis, tempting me with new authors and more books to add to my ever-growing reading list. These people support each other and raise the profile of many authors and books. Maybe in 2017, I might tempt one or two of them to give me a raise.
Talking is easy
Until you have to talk about yourself.
When I taught hygiene to food handlers or health and safety to managers, or even the occasional foray into seminars and events, I felt happy at the front, talking about my work, sharing my knowledge and experiences, which meant I could
answer almost any question on the basis I’d done it before.
When I started to prepare my first talk as an author, I scratched my head. I had no idea what people would want to know or find interesting. While my imagination has been on some fantastic adventures over the years, my life is more mundane and functional. I wasn’t even sure why I wanted to write until I remembered how Enid Blyton’s Famous Five thrilled me at the age of 7. And didn’t I win a national short story competition when I was 12? That prompted me to ask for a typewriter for my birthday, didn’t it?
My interview on Uckfield FM, followed by my first talk at The Hawthorns the next day went better than expected. When I listened back to the radio interview, I was surprised at how relaxed it sounded. Then again, a lot of the talk concerned my work as an environmental health officer. But while I was out in the field, I often found myself plotting and solving murders or creating characters.
If pushed by a determined interviewer, I’d have to admit that sometimes I dealt with jobs the way my main character, Kent Fisher, would have dealt with them. Sometimes, it was impossible to tell where I ended and he began, especially when I started my blog, Fisher’s Fables.
It started with a blog …
… it finished with a murder.
In November, I self-published Fisher’s Fables for two reasons. Firstly, the blog that spanned seven years was so much more than a send up of my battles with management and the establishment. It started with me using Kent Fisher as my mouthpiece, but
developed into a glorious sitcom, filled with warm, funny
characters, battling to make sense of their world. There was
sexual tension, conflict, danger, camaraderie, unfairness, and some of the best one-liners I’ve ever created – all wrapped up in short, humorous episodes that started to tell a story.
I found my author’s voice through Fisher’s Fables. It inspired me to dust off the manuscript for No Accident and turn it into the book that Penmore Press wanted to publish. You could say that Fisher’s Fables helped me unlock the door I’d stood outside for so long.
The second reason for putting Fisher’s Fables out there was to learn about self-publishing. Plenty of independent authors publish their own novels. I’m looking to join them by publishing my second novel, No Bodies, in 2017. Nothing’s carved in stone yet, and I’ll make a final decision once editing and rewriting are completed.
More to look forward to
by doing less.
I’ve met some great people during the last year. Some have become friends, who understand the ups and downs of being an author. I hope to make more friends and learn much, much more as I focus on the issues that matter during the next stage of my journey in 2017.
Top of my list is a desire to work with and offer more to my readers, especially those who subscribe to my mailing list. Without them, I wouldn’t have started writing my Case Files, which cover the more humorous and unusual adventures I’ve had as an environmental health officer. I plan to add more cases to the files during 2017 and share even more adventures.
It could be fun.