There are many writing-related things on my "things to do before I die" list, and most of them have been on there a very long time. Some I have been fortunate enough to achieve. The first time I got a story published I was able to cross that one off. Getting the first novel contract was another. The final file of my first published e-book arriving in my 'in' box was a momentous event. The proof of the first print copy of SOUL SCREAMS was a thrill that surpassed even that.
And being able to have a 'proper' launch, with books I could sell and sign, was another big moment. This I achieved this past weekend, when SOUL SCREAMS launched at the BFS social event.
All this preamble is to give you an inkling of how big a deal this event was to me. I'd been anticipating it for weeks. I had the books. I'd been stockpiling change. I'd got promotional post cards and posters printed. I'd been pimping the event all over the Internet. I'd thought about what to wear.
And so the day arrived. I'd decided on my new antique rose hankerchief hem dress from Joe Brown's. I put it on and went to ask Hubby's opinion on what footwear would go with it. I will qualify here that for a straight man, Hubby has an unusually keen sense of women's fashion. His mother is a talented dressmaker, and I think some of this flair has been inherited. When the stylist came to give me a wardrobe detox a few years ago, everything he'd picked out for me I got to keep. All the clothes I'd picked out myself went in the discard pile. So when he gives style advice I do tend to take heed. He scrutinised the outfit and said, "I like the dress but I think you should wear something more formal."
So I went running back to my wardrobe. Within minutes every dress I owned was laid out on the bed. Eventually, with his help, we decided on the versatile purple wraparound number that I've always been very fond of. With outfit decided, I went to finish packing my bag. It already had all the books in it. And it was very heavy. As I'd elected to take a backpack, I picked it up and realised that if I hefted this through London I was likely to get backache at best - at worst, it would keep pulling me over backwards. So I thought about the small wheeled suitcase that we take as hand baggage on trips. That could be pulled along and was probably a better bet. Unfortunately retrieving it meant a trip into the attic. In hindsight, it would have been better to think about this before putting on the dress and tights.
Fortunately, the bag was retrieved without damage to the outfit, and once my books had been transferred to the new case, I was ready to set off for the train station, happily trundling my case of books behind me. Luck was on my side that day - no delays, engineering works or cancellations to hinder my journey, and I arrived at the Mug House ahead of schedule, about 3pm.
Also launching that day were ALT-ZOMBIE, the latest book from Hersham Press, and a new collection of MR James stories, published by Jo Fletcher books and edited by Steve Jones. With these luminaries of the British genre publishing industry present, I couldn't help but feel a bit intimidated. I put up my posters, scattered the promotional postcards over all the tables, unpacked my books and set up shop next to Peter Mark May, publisher of Hersham Press. And for a while, the two of us watched everyone flock to buy the M.R. James (which was lovely, I have to say). But Steve and Jo, who were the headline act, so to speak, did make a point of telling the enraptured audience that the BFS had always supported emerging writers and new publishers, and so they should go buy our books, too.
By and by people did come to see me, and they came to buy copies of SOUL SCREAMS. Some of them were friends, not members of the BFS, who were there specifically to show moral support. That was nice. Others were BFS members who'd heard about my launch, and might have come to the event anyway, but wanted to buy my book as well. But there were also a couple of people I didn't know - BFS members who'd come to the event, picked up the postcard, and come over to investigate. I also sold a copy to Michael Marshall Smith. That was, I admit, a bit of a fan girl moment.
Then there were the lovely members of the T Party Writers' Group. There was a meeting going on that day - one I'd given apologies to, since I was at the launch instead. After the meeting finished, they came to the pub en mass and most of them bought a copy of the book.
In the end, I sold all the copies I'd brought with me, and I left a very happy bunny indeed. It's nice to know SOUL SCREAMS has begun its publishing life with such a flourish. And with the launch over with, that's one more thing to cross off the 'bucket list'.