To give you a glimpse, I thought I'd share a week of my life in a diary of sorts, covering the days leading up to the book's release date, and for a few days following it. Maybe it was a little adventurous setting the date to coincide with the school half-term holidays!
Friday, 23rd October
As always, Fridays are split-up into part-work and part-home days. The morning I looked after Matthew, my four-year-old, and immediately after lunch took him to nursery. I rushed back with the aim of doing some work, which I usually begin around 1:00 pm for a couple of hours. Since July, writing on the third instalment of The Girl in the Mirror had stalled, mainly due to post-work on the first book, but now that was all-but-done, I intended to spend the afternoon getting past chapter twenty. An hour into writing (and making good progress), the phone goes. A journalist from The East Anglian Daily Times. Lovely girl, Emily her name. I expected her to make an appointment to 'interview' me. Instead, she interviews me here and now, and puts me on the spot with a killer question. "What's your book about?" Um... I should know, right. But I garble out a response which I immediately regret. For fifteen minutes she grills me, and at the end she asks for some information in an email. She mentions that a photographer would be in touch at some point, probably over the weekend. The call ends and I am momentarily buzzing. I try to do some more writing, and surprisingly words flow through me... until the phone goes again. It's now 2:30 pm. It's Emily calling to see whether it was okay for the photographer to come round within the next thirty minutes? "Err, yes... sure. I do have to go on a school run at 3:15, though." That's fine, she assures me. The photographer will only be a couple of minutes, she says. The photographer arrives at 3:00 pm, and spends the next twenty minutes setting up, photographing me, and then putting away her equipment. It's twenty-past when I get out... my daughters both need picking up at twenty-past! AAGGHHHH. I'm late. I shake the photographer's hand hurriedly and leave her at my door as I sprint - not run - but sprint, to my daughter's school. I get there faster than Usain Bolt (well, maybe not... but quickly), to find my youngest waiting outside patiently. I feel like I could have a heart attack, so unfit I am. I pick her and my other daughter up, and go find my son who's in the nursery, but not required to be picked up until 3:30 pm.
I get home by 4.00 pm, which is when I try to catch my breath.
Monday, 26th October
I get up early as Beth is working again today. Over breakfast I check my Facebook page and come across a post shared by Gary, my uncle. It features me. The East Anglian Daily Times have placed a news piece about me on page six, but the first I see of it is the on-line version. It looks pretty good and I can barely eat my Shreddies through excitement. Seeing the photograph, it almost makes being late picking up my kids on Friday worthwhile. I bought two copies of the newspaper and later, a copy of the Ipswich Star, which also featured the story.
Buoyed by the article, I immediately use the momentum to contact other local media outlets; radio stations (Town FM, Heart) and television (BBC Look East), hoping that the report and my local claim to fame would gain interest.
I share the news article on my website and on social media sites. By the end of the day nearly 1,500 people have viewed the article on Facebook, the most any of my posts had received to date. A good many people left kind comments, with quite a few adding that they would be buying my book. By my reckoning, if everyone who said they were going to buy my book, did, I would be a very happy man.
Beth bought a bottle of Prosecco after work and after the kids were a bed, we popped the cork and had a celebratory drink to end the day.
Wednesday, 28th October
Today has been a total waste of a day and a bit of a disaster. I waited in for two deliveries. Only one arrived. I'm so ANNOYED! I call the courier who gave no excuse for the no-show, they just advise that there's been a 'delay'. No shit. I shan't name them in fear that they sabotage a future delivery, but it's not a courier I would use personally if I had a choice. A new time is arranged for tomorrow... great!
The other delivery arrived no problem, except the order (the bookmarks) are the wrong size. I contact the printer and they claim that the file sizes I'd uploaded weren't correct for the order, but rather than contact me to clarify, they just made the bookmarks to fit. Um, I'm a little disappointed, and I tell them so. They offer to reprint if I can get the correct file size. I confirm this is acceptable, and they do it at no extra charge. I contact Glendon in America, querying the bookmark file he sent, as the print company was per his recommendation and his specification. He happily supplies new artwork, and we're moving forward again. Print company confirms reprint to be delivered Friday.
Whilst waiting for deliveries I thought to contact my local Waterstones. I ring them up and speak to the store manager, explaining who I am, and that my book is out now, and asking whether they would honour me with the chance to host a book signing at their store. "When for?" she asked me. "Sometime before Christmas," was my answer expectantly. "That's not going to be possible, I'm afraid." November and December are their busiest months for foot traffic she tells me, on top of which they have staffing issues. "We'd be happy to do something in January," she offered. Januaries are usually dead in retail I know. "Sure," I replied, unable to hide the disappointment from my voice. I was so hoping to do a book signing before Christmas. Plus my contact at the East Anglian Daily Times had promised to cover it, so I was anticipating another bit of exposure in the local newspaper, which would also have given Waterstones a bit of free advertising. Now it didn't look like that would happen until next year. I'm now being forced into considering WHSmith, but so far my book isn't being listed by them.
I go to bed a little bit miserable.
Saturday, 24th October
Delivery of my stock of books arrive today. Three big, heavy boxes... I hope I haven't over-ordered! I took photographs of them proudly displayed on my dining table, uploading the picture to Facebook, Twitter and my website. When reviewing the books, I wore disposable gloves so not to mark the glossy covers! I know, a bit OCD... but I love pristine conditioned books (no offence meant to those who suffer with this!). They look and smell wonderful.
In the afternoon I contact the print company I've decided to use to print a batch of bookmarks. I order 2,000 for promotional purposes as only a little more expensive than buying 1,500 (not sure what I will do with them yet). Delivery is promised for Tuesday, but I change the day as I am out all day but will be in all day Wednesday. I have another delivery (promotional T-Shirts with book's cover emblazoned across the centre) expected, so two-birds-with-one-stone...
I go out in the afternoon with some of my former work-mates for some drinks and a meal. Whilst there, Beth rings me up to say that my book is on Waterstones' website to pre-order. I am ecstatic that the biggest book seller in the UK has it available for their customers. I make a mental note to call them to see about arranging a book signing event.
Sunday, 25th October
My wife Beth works Sundays, so my job today is mostly looking after the children. At least I don't need to worry about helping with any homework today (see a previous blog) as it's half-term. Between refereeing a few impromptu episodes of bickering and tit-for-tat skirmishes, I get the laptop out and do some work on my website, preparing the 'books' page for online purchases of the book. It's quite easy, it's just a matter of rearranging the page and inserting a bit of html code that links to a Paypal page (setting Paypal up was the trickier bit it seemed).
In the afternoon, one of my good friends turns up to purchase six copies of my book, the first author-signed copies to be issued. I'm letting her have them early.
I don't get much else done after except research on whether there is merit in arranging a blog tour... seems to be a cost involved.
Tuesday, 27th October
This is it! The day I've been waiting three years for. We're live... the book is now officially on sale! Wahoo!
I should have arranged a book signing event, or something... instead, the release comes out quietly and very low-key (aside from the barrage of social adverts I send out via Facebook and Twitter).
The day is spent taking our kittens to the vet to be spayed and neutered, and taking the family to visit my mum and dad. I give them a copy of the book, and it becomes a conversation piece for a good while.
In the afternoon, another family visit (this time an aunt and uncle - Dean (the uncle) is a one-time collaborator with me on The Book of Alternative Records. After, we collect the kittens from the vet (one wearing a lampshade around its neck) and go home.
In the evening, I send forth more tweets mentioning the book and check my emails. There are a few orders received via my website which I will fulfil and send out tomorrow. Still feel quite elated.
Thursday, 29th October
We take our two youngest children to their grandparents today as Rebecca, our eldest, has an appointment this morning. After, we plan to spend the afternoon bonding, having a meal and doing a fun activity, as we don't have enough quality time with her. Unfortunately, I'm expecting the parcel to be delivered today... the T-shirts which should have arrived yesterday. First thing I get an email from the courier confirming the parcel would arrive today, allocating me a time slot, so I know they will arrive. As the day had already been planned out, I allow myself only the morning to wait in for the delivery (the time slot is between 11 and 12), and as it hadn't arrived when I had to go out, I left a note on the door asking the courier to place the parcel in my cupboard.
When I return later in the day, the parcel is in the cupboard as hoped. Despite the packaging being ripped open exposing a couple of the T-shirts inside, the items are undamaged and look really good. The plan is to wear them when I'm out promoting the book (at book signings - I'm still hopeful that I'll be able to sort something before Christmas, and a possible tour of libraries and high schools next year).
In the evening I check my emails... another direct book order, a despatch notice confirming the bookmark reorder has been sent (to arrive tomorrow), and an invoice from the graphic designer for the work done on the website headers and bookmarks. So far, no replies to my emails sent to the local media... Ten years ago after The Book of Alternative Records was published I was interviewed half a dozen times for radio, TV and the national press. I guess having a book published these days just isn't newsworthy enough...
Still, early days yet. Tomorrow I'll contact a press agent to see whether they might be interested in my story... I'm also planning on contacting Goodreads.com to arrange a 'Give-away Competition' which will be open to all their members. I'm hoping to run it for the whole of November with the aim of generating a bit of interest on the run up to Christmas. Fingers crossed it works!
Two weeks later and the Goodreads competition is in full swing with more than 340 people having entered for the 'Give-away'with 12 days still to go...