Hello everybody, hope you are well.
My original plan was to write a blog post every week, but obviously, I haven’t stuck to that. Sometimes, I just don’t have anything interesting to say, or my brain has been causing too much trouble. But, something pretty cool has happened, and because of that, I do have something interesting to say. I’ve had “write blog post” written on a (very long) to-do list for a while, because…
MY FIRST BOOK GOT PUBLISHED!
So, in May 2017, I finished writing my book and sent it out (with cover letters and book proposals) into the literary world; to agents, firstly, most of whom gave me the kindest rejection emails you’ll ever read. I was prepared for rejection. It’s never easy, whether it’s your entire career or your high school crush, but I had read about so many successful authors, who had been rejected multiple times before any of their work was picked up. I also knew that no matter how many deep breaths I took before opening a yes-or-no, make-or-break email, I’d still have to deal with its contents. There was one literary agency I was especially hoping to see in my inbox; they get so many submissions that their system is to reply to the writers they’d like to represent, but if you don’t hear from them within a certain amount of time, then unfortunately, the answer is no.
Some of the things I learned from my rejections:
1) It does not mean you’re a bad writer.
2) It also doesn’t mean that your manuscript is completely underwhelming.
3) “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” But don’t pester. No is no. I didn’t pester, because I’d researched the publication process and knew not to, but one of the kindest, most advice-filled emails I received made me want to beg. But, seriously, no is no.
4) It doesn’t mean that agents are mean or cold – they’re not out to hurt your feelings. They want to do their best; for themselves, but particularly for you, as the author, and if they don’t feel they can represent you in the best way possible (for many different reasons), then they won’t put you through it.
5) If an agent takes the time to advise you on anything, you should definitely take that on board. If they are not offering to represent you, they aren’t obligated to help you.
I’d also submitted my work to a few independent publishing companies across the country – sometimes, you don’t need agency representation in order to work with them – and it was one of these that gave me a “yes” and sent me a contract.
I. Was. Ecstatic.
But, having a sensible side, I didn’t sign the contract there and then, knowing my excitement (and my mum’s proudest smile) would cloud my judgement. I waited, then I read it again, and thought it sounded fine. Then my very level-headed uncle read it, and thought it sounded fine. Then, our family friend (who just happens to be a solicitor) read it, and she confirmed that it was, in fact, absolutely fine. I signed my contract with Austin Macauley Publishers in late September 2017.
Now, we’re in August 2018, and my book has been out for almost two months! The company, my family and my friends have all been so supportive, as I knew they would be, but I think the most rewarding part for me is the messages I have received from people I didn’t know; people who heard about it, read it and sent beautiful messages of thanks to me. Because they’re struggling too, with epilepsy, with different neurological problems, with other chronic illnesses, with mental health, and something in my book has helped them feel less on their own. A few people have said they feel less alone and more hopeful because of my book, and that is the BEST response for me. Being complimented on my writing is great, but to know that my first, difficult, very honest book has given hope to another person… that is everything.
My book is called Freaks Like Me, and is about my life before, during and after the diagnosis of a very rare, life-changing brain disorder. It is available at Amazon (UK and US), Waterstones, Foyles, WH Smith, Barnes & Noble, Austin Macauley Publishers website directly, and can also be ordered into independent book stores. Ask questions and/or let me know what you think on Instagram or Twitter, and you can use the contact page right here on my website.
So, for the last couple of months, my family have been running around sorting things out for a launch party, in which I also wanted to raise money for Mind. (Mind is a mental health charity, and they do incredible work for people in need; they’ve helped me quite a few times before, and mental health is very much an ongoing battle, for me and for so many others.) I worked hard trying to forget my “normal” insecurities, like the fact that I’ve gained a lot of weight, as well as my epileptic insecurities, like praying “please don’t have a seizure” etc.
The room looked fabulous. The atmosphere was perfect. It was one of the best times of my entire life. I was reminded of how much I adore my family and my friends, regardless of how much or how little I see them. So, to you all, I say THANK YOU. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for being proud of me. Thank you for having a part in who I am today. I think you are sensational.
Earlier in the week, I was ready to cancel this party for a few reasons, all related to my health, but on the night, I have to tell you, I felt very genuinely happy. Isn’t that #goals? Because, even though I know I’ll destroy myself about how I look on pictures, I didn’t think about that in the moment. I thought about my family and my friends. I thought about the charity we were supporting. I signed books. I danced. I talked. I made sure everybody knew that the candy wheel was mine and my friend’s genius idea.
When I got home, way past my usual old-lady-bedtime, I wrote “even if I end up in A&E tomorrow, or I can’t face something mentally, or I’m just scared or sad or hurting, tonight I am happy and life was good.”
Love, Georgie xox