The yellow light poured invitingly out from the Waterstones’ window onto the cold pavement. It was a frosty, winter’s evening and a colourful display of hardbacks and new releases were arranged enticingly in the window, displayed among the heart shapes and gifts for lovers, each tied with red ribbons. ‘One day, Gilding The Lily may be in this window,’ I thought as I pushed the door open, jingling a bell nostalgically.
“Come in, come in,” said the manager warmly, as he welcomed me into the shop. He had already positioned about thirty copies of my book in a very appealing arrangement close to the front of the store. Next to this design was a table and chair, where I was going to sign the copies. Yes, sign copies. Of my very own book – in Waterstones!
“This is where you can sign,” he said. “And this is where you can set up drinks and nibbles.” He pointed to another free table a little further back and my husband dutifully began to arrange the glasses we had brought with us.
To say I was excited about the prospect would be an understatement – my very own book launch. Over the next two hours, about forty people came and went. I signed and sold thirty-two copies and seemed to impress a few people, judging by the applause after my nervous reading.
When the idea for the story of Gilding the Lily came to me, all I imagined doing was writing it. What I would
do next didn’t come to me until I’d finished the novel. The whole publishing process and industry is so expansive and vast, it would take me a month of Sundays just to read all the advice that I seemed to keep finding on a daily basis. I still feel like a tiny floundering fish in a huge ocean of whales, and it’s often hard for me to focus when I have another life outside of writing.
So, I admit it, I’m still daunted. But with the help of the friends I’ve made on this journey so far (and I’m still right at the beginning), I know I can continue achieving the small amount of success I have found. I Am Self Publishing have been my partner in bringing my story to market. After eighteen months of looking for an agent, I felt I had to do something with this book that was burning my soul. They found me waiting bashfully in the wings and set me on the path in a friendly and understanding way, giving me the benefit of their experience. Within a couple of months, they had my script both proofread and uploaded with the most amazing cover design. They even helped me to produce the paperback too. This led to marketing advice, press release ideas and events such as this one. Without them, I’d still be floundering. Even though I’m still way off centre stage, at least I’m now stepping out from behind the curtain, and I think I see it there… on the horizon.
Signing thirty-two copies of my own book was an early pinnacle in my career and the start of something big. But I’ve learned over the past year that we all need expert guidance in anything we choose to do (and I don’t just mean help with writing) if we’re to have any kind of success, and I don’t think we ever stop needing it.
About Guilding the Lily
A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies. An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics. Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…
When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…
You can buy the book on Amazon here.
Stay in touch with me to see where I go next at www.justinejohn.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @justinecjohn.