It is of course a brilliant feeling, and one I hope, of course, will last for many decades to come. it is also an honour, and an opportunity I never thought would come my way. Like many other things, however, it is also a very long-drawn-out process, with large periods of nothingness. That's where the anti-climax hits, doubts start to gnaw at the edge of your consciousness and having an imagination becomes a curse: what if they've lost interest in my book; what if this whole digital-first-venture-for-new-authors thing isn't working out for them; what if they don't have enough pairs of hands to handle all the work and rush my book out unprepared; what if they just keep pushing back the date and it never gets published...
Then you give yourself a kick up the arse (which is necessary, but embarrassing if your kids catch you doing it) and knock yourself back to real life. The reality is that publishers are extremely busy people, and the bigger the publisher, the bigger the authors they are working with. They are also a business, and time must be spent most where the biggest earning potential lies. It's fair enough - if I ever hit the dizzy heights of best-sellerdom, I'd think it strange if a brand-new author received the same marketing support and prioritised attention as i did, so i can't find it any less strange when I am that brand-new author.
So I have to wait my turn, and fit into their schedule. I remind myself occasionally (the occasion being "every morning", to be honest) how brilliant it is to be in their schedule, but as I said, there are still the periods of radio silence that do stretch a bit. And that is where the little things come in.
These are the things that seem trivial, or a courtesy, or a comment in passing to those who dish them out, but mean so much in keeping a new author's spirits up.
Like being asked to speak to the Rotary Club of Hamilton about my experience in being offered a publishing contract.
Like being approached after that talk by a man who revealed himself to be a big fantasy fan and who said my storyline reminded him of one of my heroes, David Gemmell (oh, the experience of being mentioned in the same breath).
Like the old friend who I hadn't seen for years who turns out to be another big fantasy fan, saw a story about me in the local paper, looked up my website and became the very first person to sign up for my mailing list.
Like the local press who have been so supportive.
Like the email I received from Voyager that was short and to the point but had such a lovely tone that it brightened up an otherwise dark morning.
Like the people who stop in a corridor at work to ask about my book.
Like my wife, who is anything but a fantasy fan and who is as brutally honest as only a spouse can be, reading the synopses for books 2 and 3 and saying she really, really liked them.
Like superstar Bernard Cornwell finding the time and understanding, when he would have a million other things to do, to reply to my email seeking advice on agents with courtesy and care.
Like my colleague and friend who took care of my photography needs with such willingness, expertise and patience.
Like my family members who, out of the blue, contact me to say they can't wait for the book to come out.
Like so many others who did or said something that they thought was run-of-the mill but which meant so much to me.
I know, I know, this sounds like an Oscars acceptance speech or the acknowledgements page in a book, but while I am grateful for all of this, it is not so much in the grand scheme of things but more for the specific way they all picked up my spirits and kept me going in those moments. And probably without realising they were doing so.
For being a writer can be a nerve-wracking experience. Like, I guess, anyone in a creative field, you just do what you think is good and then put it out there for others to directly judge whether they like it or not - and you have no idea until they do judge it which way they are going to go.
So if the overall journey is a rollercoaster ride, it is these little things that keep you in your seat. And I really am grateful to all the people who have, in this way, kept me buckled in!