I’ve taken the first Handheld Press book out of its box, I’ve sent off the legal deposit copies, I’ve sent off review copies, I’ve been posting cover images to Twitter and Facebook, and the Likes and the Follows are creeping up. I’m swamped in ebook conversion issues, p&p calculations and jumping through distribution hoops. My flat is now an office with a bedroom and kitchen attached. I used to have a life, but I lost sight of it weeks ago. I’m sure sales will begin to happen once the publication date arrives, so I am focusing on the fiddly metadata uploading processes to make sure bookshops can find my books.
I’ve been learning a lot about how marketing runs publishing. I need to let bookshops know Handheld Press exists, so I have to have all my books listed on Neilsen’s Title Editor system, and in Gardners’ database for wholesale: that’s straightforward. The Bookseller’s reporting on sales figures and six figure deals for books is so utterly alien to what I’m hoping for, I just ignore them. Much more interesting was the opening of submissions for the Bookseller’s Spring Bookbuyers’ Guide, for books due out from January to June next year. I had two books already planned for February, but The Akeing Heart has been hell’s own job to edit, and I woke up one morning with the brainwave of moving it from December 2017 (always likely to be impossible) to January 2018 (technically feasible). Now I have three titles for the SBG. But what will Handheld publish next? I had a project of my own that kept being rejected by publishers, for silly reasons, so I’ve decided to prove them wrong and publish it through Handheld. Four titles for the SBG. I’m nursing a potential Handheld Translation title, but the foreign rights negotiations are going to be painstaking, so I’m going to leave that for the Autumn Bookbuyers’ Guide. Thus we see how marketing shapes the publishing schedule.
The multitasking needed is astounding. I’ve been talking to the university’s Professional Track people about doing a Masterclass in ‘How I Went From Initial Thought to First Book in 6 Months’, which will be enjoyable. Far more alarming has been the thought of taking on a student intern. I am a bit of a control person, so I knew it would be hard to untangle a piece of meaningful work for someone else to gain experience from, from the morass of parallel project lines that makes my working day. I need to untangle the lines, sit down and look at them, understand better where, when and how marketing and editing meet, and what someone else can do for me. It’ll be good for me. It’s been an overwhelming six months. I need to take stock.