I wrote a book. It got published. It got published over a year ago. And I’m only now doing the launch.
I could blame COVID for the delay in my book launch, and I mean, sure, it hasn't helped. It’s been hard to get copies and they take a long time to arrive in the post, and you can’t sell copies of your book if you don’t have any. But the reality is that I struggle with promoting my work. Publishing has always been something I've pursued, ever since I realised it was a thing I could do, which meant I had already had my first acceptance—and my first rejection—before I left primary school.
But getting something accepted for publication is one thing. Having other people read it is another. For me, the thrill of the editor writing to tell me they'll print my work is quickly dampened by the realisation that someone will print my work. It will be in the public realm, instead of the safe confines of my own brain. It will become something other than mine. It will be judged, for better or worse.
I know this is something other writers experience, because they've told me so. For some of them, publication just isn't something they ever want to do. They're happy to just write for themselves and keep the stories for their own enjoyment. I wonder if they're the wise ones. Instead of doing that, I've chosen to torture myself with the merry-go-round of the publishing industry, and if that weren't enough, now I need to jump onto the marketing roller coaster.
So here I am. Promoting my book, a year after I published it. It's taken me almost that long to get used to the idea of having people read it. Putting it out for review was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. You might think I'm exaggerating, but I'm really not. It would be much easier for me not to publish anything at all. It would no doubt be far less stressful!
Still, I'm doing it. I can't be sure why. I remember talking to a colleague a few years ago, telling them that I'd had a rejection, and that it didn't seem to bother me as much as I thought it would.
'Somehow it's not that gut-wrenching let-down anymore,' I said, and they agreed.
Somehow, you build up a 'meh, that's fine' attitude, and either rework the piece for something else, or you put it away to age in a drawer, in the hopes that it might one day be edited into something resembling a fine wine (rather than turning to vinegar—which is also a possibility, I can assure you). Rejections are not a sharp stab anymore. They're a dull nudge, a shove in my shoulder, which, though uncomfortable, doesn't even put me off balance. But publication? That's cliff diving, it's gasping for oxygen as the air pulls at every hair on my body as I hurtle towards the surface, it's splashing into freezing waters too close to the rocks, where I struggle against unpredictable waves and currents. For all the times I've jumped in, I still don't know how to navigate it.
One day, maybe, it will be a graceful dive, a pike, a half twist, a flawless entry. I'll know just where to aim when I leap out into the air. It will be familiar. I might even enjoy it.
That day is not today.
But I'm still jumping.
In a post-climate collapse world, the only way to survive is to be lucky enough to live in one of the domed cities, run by international corporation PlanetRescue. As a high level engineer working for PlanetRescue’s cyber security division WorldSec, Finn has unique insight into the Collapse and the dangers of the Badlands outside of the dome. But she soon finds out that there is more to history than what’s she’s learnt, and that PlanetRescue is not the force for good they claim to be. Revolution is brewing from within the City and outside in the Badlands, and it seems that Finn has an integral role to play in it.
Alt-Ctrl is a YA dystopian speculative fiction novella, suitable for readers aged 12 and up.
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