A few days ago I mentioned I was thinking about cancelling the possibility of a second print run and quitting while I was ahead. Then, spurred on by friendly commenters, I decided to have a go at getting 54 orders before mid-November, which would have allowed a second print run in time for Christmas. But then I realised that would mean spending the next four weeks being slightly obsessive about how many books I was selling and then possibly having to call a halt anyway, but on the tails of failure instead of success.
The thing is...
(a) My life has moved on. I'm immersed in my new job and have no time or energy spare for anything else. So...
(b) I can't promote the book, which means I can't do the job of selling it properly, and it's no fun doing something half-cocked. And anyway,
(c) The original aim was to use some spare time I had over the summer to make a limited number of books available to family and friends, and then wrap it all up neatly and say goodbye to writing for a while. It was a good aim. It made sense.
When I do things, I like to do them properly. I don't like things lingering in the background and being faintly irksome. I want to give them my all.
I'm really pleased with the book and the way it turned out, and I'm delighted that I sold 100 copies in such a short space of time. It's understandable that those sales should be petering out now, because I'm putting no work into selling or publicising the book. Trying to self-publish fiction is notoriously difficult. The average number of sales is around the 100 mark, and that's for people who spend a lot more time and energy on pushing their books.
I've just about got enough spare books to cater for the people who placed orders recently, so they will get their books and that will be that.
It's good to end on a positive note, as well as a relief. Those of you who have books can feel very smug: You own a rare article. Treasure it. Love it. Stroke it. Whisper sweet nothings to it. And stop feeling guilty because you haven't got round to reading it, or posting a review online, or whatever. There's no need any more. Hooray! Thank heavens for happy endings.
Sheesh! Bit of a nip in the air now, eh? I am now fully entitled to get all smug on yo arses about how I am still cycling to work every day and will continue to do so throughout the winter. That's an hour of solid exercise every day, come rain, shine or snow. Last winter I cycled to work in a blizzard. That's how hard I am. In your face, cake-and-chocolate-induced lardiness! Of course I will just eat more chocolate and cake to compensate but shhh, we'll pretend we didn't notice.
I have a beautiful cycle path to get to and from work every day, and the best bit about it is the crunchy autumn leaves. I am developing pin-point precision in squashing every crunchy leaf in my path, and the pleasure of this never diminishes. Soon the crunch of leaf will be replaced by the crunch of ice-covered puddles, which is equally satisfying.
I'm knackered and my kids keep getting ill and life is BLOODY HARD, but it's the right kind of hard. It's satisfying-hard, challenging-hard, never-boring-hard. Smug-hard. EXHAUSTING-hard.
I wrote a poem the other day. It woz kwite gud. I think. But I won't show it to you, so you can never prove me wrong. HA.
I never look at the picture part of postcards - I always turn over straight away to read the writingy bit, cos I always think that's more interesting.
The postcard on my doormat was writing-side-up anyway, so I picked it up and perused it.
But the other thing that happens with me and post is that I never read it properly at first. This is partly because my first sight of any post tends to happen with a bike in my arms. I cycle to work, but I keep my bike inside the house, and we have steps leading up to the front door, so I carry my bike over the threshold, simultaneously looking down at the post, and then I have to do a million boring small things like remove cycle clips, helmet, fluorescent vest, and any other waterproofs, hats, gloves, scarves etc that might be cluttering my person.
Often it's just a pit stop, and all I'm doing is swapping work-laden pannier bags for a child seat on the back of the bike before I dash back out again to pick up the kids. Sometimes I have a little golden window of time before that next part of my day, and usually that's spent flitting about the house trying to decide which is most important out of (a) kettle on (cup of tea), (b) computer on (check email, find out whether my book has become an internet sensation overnight) (c) dinner on (it's easier to cook without a 2-yr-old wrapped around your shins) (d) klobber off (e) wet laundry out of machine (f) telly on ...which generally ends up with teabags, fluourescent vests, wet pants and computer keyboards being combined in all the wrong ways.
Aaanyway. That was all an attempt to explain why it took me so long to work out what the hell was the postcard on my doormat, and who it was from. The first thing I looked at was the handwriting. I didn't recognise it. So I looked for a signature. There wasn't one. It was covered in close writing, but there was no name at all. I looked again. There must be a name, surely? No. So I scanned the content. It was something to do with the angle of a chair. Wtf? I looked for a name again, more slowly this time. Nope. Nothing there.
All the time I had been pondering this, I had also been removing cycle clips, putting the kettle on, turning the computer on, etc. I still had tea to cook, kids to pick up, yadda yadda, and I didn't want to read the content in a rush. I wanted to savour it, because this was An Exciting Event. In the end my partner read it before I did. Not knowing who it was from and not having heard of the Snailr project, he pronounced himself Amused But Thoroughly Confused. I'd been through the confusion part already, so I settled on amused. It was a very nice postcard. I'm glad I got it. The writingy part looked like this:
(I couldn't resist the product placement. Forgive me. I wrote that book. You can buy it / find out more about it here. Lucy Pepper designed the cover, and Francis Blake illustrated it. Isn't it beautiful?)
...and this is what the postcard said:
"As I write this the Eastern European grandfather in front of us has been trying to recline his chair to his satisfaction for the last 18 minutes. Continuously. It is like this angle [see first chair pic on postcard above] he wants it like this angle [second pic] it keeps doing this angle [third pic] Yes. It is basically the same angle three times over. As far as I can tell, he wants to recline it 15 degrees and keeps getting it at 30 degrees by mistake. So he tries again. Ratches clank and scrape as he goes up, down, up, down, his yellow thumbnail hanging over the back. 'Is not stay.' He turns and says to us. Then tries it another 40 times."
It also has a number 3 on it, which I presume means it was the third card sent.
Snailr is Anna Pickard's latest project. It's a brilliant idea. She went on a 2-week train trip around the US of A and documented it by sending postcards. A kind of one-destination-only hard-copy Twittery thing. Ish. Sort of. It's explained better here. Anna is lovely and clever and good with words and I felt very special for having my very own unique Anna Pickard artefact. Thankyou Anna.