Expectation vs Reality

I was recently invited to write a short article for the book blogging website, ‘Mr. Ripley’s Enchanted Books’, about my experiences debuting in a global pandemic. It’s been a long and very interesting year, and it was nice to have a chance to reflect on the process.

Here’s the first couple of paragraphs. You can link to the rest of the article below.


Every aspiring author dreams of landing a publishing deal. For many of us it’s our entire reason for existence. We can spend so many hours daydreaming, picturing how it will happen and building up the moment in our imagination, that when it finally comes there is usually an alarming jolt as expectation violently collides with reality.

For me, this jolt was twofold. Firstly, my deal was not with a Big Five publishing house, was not for a six-book series, and was not attended by a nationwide publicity campaign. Instead (and probably in common with most authors) I signed with a small independent label, for a single book, with the expectation that I would shoulder at least some of the responsibility of spreading the word about it.

And actually, this was fine. I was excited about the prospect of talking to people, drumming up support, and whipping up a bit of excitement. I have a background in graphic design, and was looking forward to flexing some pixels on social media and beyond. Being with a smaller publisher meant I had more direct contact with my editor and more editorial input; I was even allowed the opportunity to design my own cover (for better or worse).

But then the second jolt hit. On the 23rd of March 2020 England went into a national lockdown, closing schools and bookshops across the country and, in one fell swoop, cutting off the two main avenues I had been counting on to carry the bulk of my publicity. My book was due for release at the end of October, so it seemed likely things would be open again by the time it was ready to land in people’s hands, but it was still a huge blow to my pre-publication timetable.

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