Since the lovely Ipso Books decided they want to publish my three novels, we’ve been busy working away at getting the first one ready. There were edits, and then copy edits, and then a proof read. None of it was too arduous, as this is the one we all felt was the closest to being ready. But regardless, there are more steps to getting a book out in the world than I’d realised. We changed the title from A Sister-Shaped Gap to Missing Pieces, I wrote the acknowledgements and the dedication, they sorted out the formatting.
And then there was the cover. I was very nervous about this aspect, because I’ve heard authors often don’t have much say, and despite knowing nothing about design, I know what I like (and what I don’t) when it comes to book covers. But I needn’t have worried. We started the process with me sending over some examples of covers I really like and really don’t like, and then they briefed the designer.
Next, the designer came up with about six concepts, which we discussed, and then she developed our preferred ones further. And all of a sudden, somehow, one of them changed from being a nice image with some words on to being a book cover. We all agreed, and it was done (I’m probably massively oversimplifying this process that I don’t know much about).
Seeing the finalised cover was a special moment, but what really gave me pause was when Ipso sent me a photo of the first hundred proof copies to be printed. I couldn’t stop looking at it. One hundred spines with the title and my name printed on them. And now, some of them have been sent out to book bloggers (along with some tea, a pack of tissues and a bar of chocolate). It is out in the world, and no longer only mine.
On Tuesday, my friend Shelly came over to take my author photo. She was here for a couple of hours, and we talked a lot (it’s the first time we’ve ever seen each other without our children present, and we had a lot of half conversations to finish), and as we talked, she took photos from various positions and in different lights. I was nervous about this part, as I’m much bigger than I’d like to be these days and I’m growing my hair out after my drastic post-chemo cut and it’s at the worst possible length. But Shelly is an artist, and she somehow captured something pretty great, and I’m incredibly grateful to her for that.
On Thursday evening, Missing Pieces became available to pre-order on Amazon. I shared the link on Facebook and Twitter, and watched my notifications explode with people saying they’d ordered it, or shared it with their network. It wasn’t too nerve-wracking, because none of them will be able to read it until it comes out in June. It was just nice to know that people were behind me, supporting me. It was wonderful, in fact.
Paul arrived home from London that night a little after ten. He had a proof copy of the book in his bag. Ipso had left it at reception for him, and he’d called in to collect it between finishing work and getting a train home. They’d wrapped it up. And I opened it, this present that is the thing I’ve wanted all my life. I took a photo of me holding it. I put it on our bookshelf. I looked at it, over and over, still not quite believing.
I’m excited about the next couple of months, about the people those proofs are being sent to reading it. About hearing what people think of this world I created and carried with me for so many years. About watching it be released, and seeing what happens. I have hopes: that it is well received, that people have nice things to say about it, that it sells. But to some extent, none of that matters. Because I have a book here that I wrote and that someone else chose to publish, and that’s enough.