Guest Post: Gill Hoffs on the Collywobbles


Gilll Hoffs has been a guest on this blog many times before and it’s always a pleasure to have her guesting for us. 

Today, in the wake of her second book being published, Gill shares with us the nerves related to the release. Thanks to Gill for being so honest about this topic. 

Vic x

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Killing your collywobbles: how to handle the release of your next book.
By Gill Hoffs.

My second shipwreck book has just come out and while I’m delighted to have 18 months’ work come to fruition, I also feel kinda sick about it.  With my first book, The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’” (Pen & Sword, 2014, 2015), everything was new and exciting and the only way was up.  As a relatively unknown author writing about a long forgotten shipwreck, I could reason with myself that whatever I did was an improvement on the status quo and no matter what, my research and writing would raise awareness of the people involved and help memorialise them – so whether my book was a success or not, it was something.  And something is better than nothing.

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But fast forward two and a half years from that first book’s release and you’ll find me fretting, full of excitement mixed with fear.  My Tayleur book has been in national newspapers, on TV and the radio, and led to trips to Ireland, the wreck site, and to meet descendants of people involved.  It’s been wild and I’ve loved every second of it but – and it’s a big BUT – this means the stakes are raised, considerably, for Book 2.

The Lost Story of the William & Mary: The Cowardice of Captain Stinson (Pen & Sword, 2016) came out in September and although the advance reviews and feedback so far has been great, I still feel queasy with nerves.  What if no-one reads it or likes it? What if, what if, what if… Many of you reading this have felt (or will feel) the same with your own second book or subsequent title, so here’s a list of things which have helped me through the summer and will hopefully help you too.

Do add suggestions in the comments section – killing collywobbles is a work in progress!

  • Keep lists in a project book of precisely what you’re doing to promote your book, e.g. a section on reviews (who approached, when, yes/no, what site or publication, etc.), interviews, articles, talks/signings. When you’re panicking and struggling to sleep you can look at all the positive steps you’re taking to get your book out there and noticed, and rest easier knowing that this is in hand and still to come.  Of course, this only works if you have put effort into promotion…
  • Remind yourself that people who enjoyed your first book are now rooting for you. They want your new book to be great, they want to love it, and they will come at your new title with a positive state of mind.  Make the most of connections made during your research or via your first book, keep in touch with readers and reviewers and if you can send them something extra (not a bribe, think bookmarks, pens etc.) then do so.  Don’t point out to them what you’re unsure of in your work, or otherwise try to put them off it – most people get the jitters and that’s no reason to sabotage yourself (and your publisher).
  • Celebrate every little thing to do with your new book. Enjoy the ride!  You’ve earned it!

Gill Hoffs is the author of Wild: a collection (Pure Slush, 2012), The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’” (Pen & Sword, 2014, 2015), The Lost Story of the William & Mary: The Cowardice of Captain Stinson (Pen & Sword, 2016), and hundreds of short stories and articles.  She lives in Warrington, England, and can be contacted via email and on twitter.

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