Author’s Angst

It’s the night of my book launch.

Drinks are ready, copies of Homeward Bound, my first novel, are stacked behind the counter and a table is set aside for signings.

Let the launch begin.

Except there’s only me. I take a deep breath, taste the sweet aroma of bookshop and look around at the empty space.

Is anyone going to come?

It’s a lovely local venue – Ink@84 in Highbury – but will people find it? Was this all a terrible mistake? And what if people do come, but all at once and bringing uninvited friends and relatives? Will there be too many? Jostling for space, complaining that it’s too hot. What if there aren’t enough books to go round? And worse, not enough drink? Will there be rioting in the street?

Twenty minutes to go. Still no-one. Perhaps it’s for the best if they all stay away. They’ll probably hate the book, anyway.

I was asked if I had thought of doing a reading from my book. I saw no point in that. It’s taken me a couple of years to create the voices of my characters in my head. How can I be expected to reproduce them out loud to unforgiving ears?

Yet if I’m not going to read from it, what then? I have a short speech prepared, but what if no-one listens? Or they can’t hear me? Or I’m staring at faces barely concealing boredom, disinterest, wishing they were home watching Love Island?

The thought of seeing people I know brings a new dread. I am as incapable of memorising names as I am of giving birth to a child. I see myself, pen poised over the title page, being asked. “Make it out to me, please,” with no idea who they are, even though I’ve worked with them for twenty years, live in the same street, drink in pubs with them.

“Hello, Richard. Thanks for inviting me. Not too early are we?”

Someone’s arrived.

“Richard, will you sign my book for me, mate? Make it out to Paul.”

Loads of them.

“I’ve read the first chapter online. It looks really interesting.”

The shop is full, everyone’s drinking, chatting, smiling, taking photos and selfies. It’s going to be alright.

“That went well, great speech and they all seem to like the book.” the host says when the door has swung shut on the last guest.

Success. I should be able to bask in the compliments. But what if no-one else likes it? Or no-one else buys it. Will distant shops only stock it if I change my name to ‘Local Author’?

Any writer who thinks the agony will be over after the final proof is approved, just wait until the book launch!

Homeward Bound is available from the high street and online bookshops and Amazon (paperback and Kindle).

First published on!author-angst

Author: Richard Smith

I'm a writer and storyteller and for much if my life produced sponsored films and commercials. Subjects were as varied as bananas in Cameroon, oil from the North Sea, fighting organised crime and caring for older people. Their aim was always to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials I worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.

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