My First Year as a Published Author by Catherine Doyle

Writing.ie | Magazine | Children & Young Adult
inferno

I signed the contract for my YA trilogy in summer 2013, almost a year after finishing my first novel, Vendetta. What followed was a manic year of re-writes, edits, proofs, double-checking, triple-checking, freaking out, trying not to panic, and most happily, finally getting to tell people that I was an author. The general reaction? ‘Cool, where can I get your book?’ My reply: ‘Um, in all good bookshops… in about eighteen months time.’

I was, technically, an author. The dream was almost a reality. I just had to wait a little longer.

Publication day, when it arrived, was a flurry of excitement. There were tweets and Instagrams and phone-calls and photographs. There were texts from my friends (‘Is this character based on me?’ ‘Is that character based on Susan?’), shallow requests from siblings (‘Who’s the girl on the cover? Do you know her? She’s hot. Set us up?’), mildly disturbing questions from my mother (‘Oh, is this love interest based on your brother? Their personalities are very similar…’), and several local bookshop visits from my very proud father (‘Do you know this book? My daughter wrote it. No, thank you. I have several copies already. I just wanted to let you know.’)

There was the all-important Shelfie. On January 1st, 2015, I walked into Dubray Books on Shop Street in Galway with five of my best friends and saw my book for the very first time, taking pride of place on a shelf. An actual, official shelf. I have never been so excited about a shelf before. There followed an unashamed onslaught of selfies, while we shuffled into different arrangements, posing with books-in-hand, grinning, gasping and holding Vendetta aloft à la Simba in The Lion King. The manager was very understanding about it.

The Launch in Easons on O’Connell’s Street took place three weeks later. It was a blur of all my favourite people, a pretty inarticulate speech, a huge outpouring of support, and one hundred mini black-ribboned honey pots, which people embraced enthusiastically before realising (once they had read Vendetta) that they were actually a symbol of impending death in the book. But, who doesn’t love a good surprise?!

Cat Doyle BioColour-2For my first radio interview in January, I showed up at RTE studios wearing the loudest jacket ever made, a heavy silver chain, and having drained three consecutive cups of coffee. I tried not to move too much so my chain didn’t jangle or my coat didn’t rustle or my bladder didn’t betray me to a lifetime of regretful embarrassment. Terrible unradio-friendly fashion choices notwithstanding, the words came out fine. I quickly learned that talking about your book – this thing that is you’ve poured your heart into for months and months – feels like the most natural thing in the world.

Robert Dunbar reviewed Vendetta in The Irish Times when it first came out, and wrote some incredibly lovely things about it. Finding out about that was one of those Big Moments. I woke up to a copy of The Irish Times being waved frantically in my face by my parents. The newspaper had printed a picture of me to go along with the review. I shamelessly plastered it all over social media. My grandmother nearly keeled over with pride. My dad cut my face out and stuck in the family album. Of course, part of putting your book out there and watching it drift into other people’s hands means that there will be opinions about it – some you like, some you won’t. On Goodreads, an online site where author confidence goes to die, I read my first negative review too: ‘This book is a piece of cheese for your sandwich.’ At least it made me laugh. And anyway, who doesn’t love a nice piece of cheese every now and then?

The best part of being published is the people you get to meet along the way. The writing community is made up of tremendously witty, intelligent, talented people. Sometimes I wonder how I snuck in. For a profession that tends to be very solitary, there is no greater experience than getting to go to a festival or an event or a book launch or an evening where you can mingle with other like-minded individuals and spend hours dissecting which Hogwarts house you truly belong in or what your Northern Lights daemon would be. The Irish Writing Community is particularly special – I know I’m biased, but I’m also right.

The pressure doesn’t go away, though. By the time Vendetta was released into the wild, I was already hard at work on Inferno, the sequel. I had expected a tighter deadline and longer writing hours to hit my next target but I wasn’t expecting the unique pressure that comes with writing a sequel. I started to receive emails and tweets from readers with questions, requests, ideas and even some mild threats about the romantic development of my characters. I always enjoyed the threats the most.

Unlike your debut book, you are no longer writing for yourself, in privacy, without really knowing if anyone will ever read your manuscript, let alone publish it. Book two has a release date, a cover, and an editor who sends casual reminders that your deadline is approaching and she will be too if you don’t get your work in on time!

There’s also that great sense of possibility, of what the future might hold for you as an author, for your book, your readers. That’s the best part. Having a foot in the door, and deciding that you’re going to do whatever it takes to get the rest of you inside, too.
All in all, the year of publication flies by – there are ups and downs, thrills and disappointments, quiet moments and loud periods, but the work – that unquenchable desire to write – remains at a constant. The need to sit down at your laptop and pour your heart and soul into something greater than yourself becomes your anchor, and whether your book is published or not, whether it sells one million copies or one hundred copies, or whether it sits unfinished in Microsoft Word as you hurtle past another deadline, that passion to create stories doesn’t change.

(c) Catherine Doyle

About Inferno

Sophie’s life has been turned upside-down, and she’s determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she’s trying to forget, won’t give up on their love – and it’s Luca’s knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace – and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie’s in deeper than ever … “Romeo and Juliet” meets “The Godfather” in the second instalment in Catherine Doyle’s Blood for Blood series.

Inferno (Blood for Blood: Book 2) by Catherine Doyle is out now or pick up your copy online!

‘It’s bloody brilliant, even better than VENDETTA if that’s possible … It’s exciting and violent and sexy and heartbreaking. Loved it!’ Louise O’Neill

Find out more about Cat Doyle by following her on Twitter @doyle_cat or check out  catherinedoylebooks.com

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