- Securing publishing deals for The Keeper of Lost Things in 16 territories.
- Giving up my part-time job to become a full-time author (did I mention that I’m an author?!)
- Seeing the gorgeous UK cover for the first time – and then all the beautiful covers for the foreign editions.
- Seeing my novel on the shelf in a bookshop for the first time.
- My first book signing (although I did, and still do, find this quite nerve-wracking because I’m always worried that I’ll spell someone’s name incorrectly).
- Speaking at my first ever literary festival in Stratford Upon Avon.
But there have been other things too; smaller things that have made my heart sing…
- My dad being asked whilst walking his dogs if he’s ‘Ruth Hogan’s father’ (he was so proud) and my mum telling every cashier in every shop she visits about my book.
- Being ‘recognised’ by a post lady.
- Working with some of my foreign translators and agonising over single words and phrases via email at 10pm on a Saturday night.
- All the lovely messages from people across the world on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook who’ve read the book and send me pictures of their dogs.
- The lady who painted a picture called ‘The Lovely Cup of Tea’ and said it was inspired by the character of Sunshine in Keeper.
- Being asked by Macmillan Cancer Support to write something for their Facebook page because I’m ‘a positive role model’ (I shed a few tears).
So here I am living my dream and getting paid to do the thing I love most, but if I could go back 18 months and warn myself about anything, what would it be?
- Firstly, don’t worry so much. It can all seem a bit overwhelming at the beginning. I knew nothing about the physical process of getting a book from a manuscript to a hardback in a book shop, and at times I felt as though I had no idea what was going on. I needn’t have worried. My wonderful editor had it all under control and guided me through.
- Don’t spend hours in front of your laptop checking reviews and sales ratings. It’s an awful time-waster and you have books to write.
- Don’t agonise over one star reviews: you’re going to get them, and, at first, they hurt like hell. Don’t take it personally. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.
- Accept praise for your book graciously and don’t be embarrassed.
- Never use quotes from work that is not out of copyright. Obtaining permissions can be an absolute nightmare and very expensive.
- Don’t wear new shoes for a book signing tour. You’ll get blisters (I did, and I did).
And finally – and most importantly – enjoy the ride!