26th January 2021 arrived. On that day Hunted was published. My first novel. The fulfilment of an ambition held for more than half a lifetime. There was a marching band, and a celebratory cheese stall, and champagne flowed like the Wharfe plump with snowmelt. Crowds of thousands were in the streets, and they cheered as I left the front door. Beautiful, silent fireworks that don’t scare animals painted the sky late into the night. The very air smelled fresh and new.
Except … some of that is made up.
For a start, 26th of January was originally 5th of January, but the editor suggested a couple more changes to the manuscript than I had anticipated, and I ended up having to rewrite, well, 80% of the novel. So Adrian and Rebecca agreed to push the publication date back a month or so. Alas, Amazon was less keen, and we ended up with a three-week delay. Which meant I had to write and edit approximately 60,000 new words in November and December. Phew.
But 26th of January wasn’t really the 26th of January either, as Amazon accidentally released the physical copies early, and they have an official publication date of 23rd January. The pre-orders mostly turned up with the orderers on 25th January, the day before release. Many of those who ordered them, kind friends, dutiful relatives, and curious colleagues almost to a one, thought they had been the victim of a publishing time vortex that had somehow brought the future to them early. They asked if the same trick could be applied to the current lockdown situation, but, alas, we were unable to work out how to get Amazon to do that.
However, by 26th January the physical copies were out here, and the digital ones downloaded, and all the loveliness started. I’d been told by other people who have gone through this to expect the loveliness, but I wasn’t expecting what actually happened.
Some of the loveliness began before Hunted was released. Hobeck sent copies to their Advanced Reader Team (the HART), a hand-picked, highly-trained, crack squad of book reviewers who can be found on sofas all over the country, a book in one hand, a Fox’s Ginger Crunch Crème in the other. And several of those said lovely things about the book on their blogs, on Twitter, on Goodreads. When publication day arrived those lovely things started turning up on Amazon too.
Meanwhile, the ongoing frenzy of loveliness that is Jo Brown, my friend and colleague, featured the novel in the parish magazine of Feering in Essex, had me interviewed in the divisional stand-up at work, had me advertised in the COO’s weekly newsletter, and bought up most of the physical copies of the book to give to her family. Thank you, Jo. And sorry, Jo’s family, if Hunted isn’t your Ginger Crunch Crème. But if it is, please stick a review on Amazon J.
And on it went. I was interviewed by Adrian and Rebecca on their podcast, The Hobcast, which wasn’t remotely nerve-wracking and I never said ‘um’ once. Ahem. But the biggest thing for me is people I have never met have bought Hunted, read it, and said nice things about it. Friends and colleagues have bought it in droves, and have said nice things. But they’re my friends and colleagues, and hopefully predisposed to be kind. I don’t think I’ve upset any of them recently, at least. But people I have never met have no reason to be nice about the book at all, unless they actually liked it. And they seem to, in the main.
And people have said, and, yes, people, several of them, not just my friend Wendy’s mum, not just ones I know, they’ve said “when’s the next one coming out?” It’s called Endangered. And Hobeck and I are discussing that very question at the moment.
Thank you to everyone for all of their support till now and onwards, for the book-buying, the book-reading, the book-reviewing, the lovely words, the likes and retweets and generosity. Ginger Crunch Crème, anyone?