Chin-up, you miserable…..

People who work in publishing should be banned from having books released.

Especially idiots who work in sales….  Well, me basically.

It makes you cynical you see, stops you enjoying the process of being published.

Knowledge means power?

Not in this case, it’s just made me worry and navel gaze.

I’ve been trying hard not to think about the sales of the book, not to start poring over Bookscan figures every Tuesday, or even worse, systematically checking Amazon rankings on an hourly (well, half-hourly basis), but it’s a hard habit to break. I’ve been doing it for years, about books I’ve loved and worked on, but had no creative input into.

So to step back when it’s something I wrote? Well, it’s proving a challenge.

What’s important is picking the many positives out of the last few months. The reviews on Amazon (especially the ones not written by relatives or mates…), being reviewed by the Sunday Times for goodness sake, interviews in The Big Issue and The Sun. The good folks at Puffin have got more PR for ‘Billy’ than I would’ve thought possible, and for that I’m really grateful.

The other upside has been the events. I’ve absolutely LOVED them. Doesn’t matter if it’s talking to 30 or 300 students, years 7,8,9 or 10, every one of them has been an absolute buzz. Alright, it’s been limited to a couple a month, but I should think myself lucky that work have freed me up to do them in the first place.

The other thing that’s stopped me being so maudlin and self-absorbed are the messages I’ve had from people who’ve read the book. Teachers who work with kids like Billy, but more importantly from kids themselves. After all, I did write it for a young adult audience. Bizarrely, it’s easy to forget that.

Bertie got in touch and told me;

‘I am 13 and have just finished reading Being Billy. I though it was amazing! You are a really good writer. Like Jaqueline Wilson says you write starkly but sensitivly. True there is a balance of both, it’s perfect.’

I can’t begin to tell you how much it meant to get Bertie’s note, my first!

It was bizarre, but great to send him a note back, answering his questions.

His email certainly pulled me up a bit lively, and put things into perspective.

Alright the sales could be better, but I know better than most how difficult it is to make a book stick, to get the sales that the tiny majority of novels enjoy. What’s the point of being published if you’re not going to wring every drop of enjoyment out of it?

So I’m going to do exactly that. Or I’m going to try. Starting with the Amazon rankings. I haven’t checked this morning, and I haven’t got the shakes yet……


  1. You can do it mate – stay away from Amazon! Next time you feel a bit disheartened, re-read this post. It’s spot on x

  2. Liz

    Hi Phil

    I’ve not yet read Billy. I have several reasons why and they are all cowardly ones. Mostly I can’t afford the time off work thanks to the migraine I’ll get from crying. I am a big old softie so I know this is going to touch me deeply. But I will read it sooner rather than later. I can’t bear not to. I have heard so many great things about it from everyone else, especially Jenny who can be a demonette if she puts her mind to it.

    Good luck with Billy – I will definitely tweet at you (as @LizUK) once I’ve read it and the review is up.

    L x

  3. Mike Johnson

    Hi Phil
    Spoke to Dawn last sat night down prinny ave she told me you are the author of being billy – brilliant well done

    I am pleased you have done well
    take care
    Mike Johnson from Hannah Pickard house
    Fond memories we did some good work

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