On 7th April The Missing, my third psychological thriller, was published. I never used to believe authors who said they got nervous before publication – especially authors who’d had Sunday Times bestsellers – what was there to worry about? Of course they’d have another one. But I’ll admit that I was really nervous before The Missing was published. There are lots of articles online about writers and ‘imposter syndrome’, the feeling that you just got lucky or somehow blagged your way into a publishing contract and that, sooner or later, your books will stop selling, no one will want to read them and you’ll be ‘found out’ for the writing imposter you so obviously are. It’s an illogical syndrome but that doesn’t make it any less scary. Last year The Lie did incredibly well. It went to number one on all the ebook sites and was a number five Sunday Times bestseller. I got lucky, I told myself when it happened. It’ll never happen again so enjoy every moment.
But it’s happened again and no one could be more incredulous than me! Yesterday I found out that, after the first full week of sales, The Missing is number 6 in the Sunday Times paperback chart. Number six! Famous writers like Stephen King, James Patterson, Karin Slaughter and Val McDermid are in the top ten. And me! It doesn’t get much more surreal than this.
The sales team at Avon HarperCollins did an amazing job of getting The Missing into the retailers. Over the last ten days my Facebook friends have sent me photo after photo of The Missing in Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Morrisons, WH Smith and Waterstones. The photos were amazing; seeing my book featured as the WH Smith Book of the Week and the Tesco #1 was astonishing. But I was scared too. What if they stayed on the shelves and no one bought them? None of those retailers would ever stock one of my books again. But they did sell – nearly 10,000 people bought a copy last week. It doesn’t feel real! Apparently it is.
I’m currently writing my fourth psychological thriller. I’m only 16,000 words in and, when I’m not fighting the urge to watch TV instead, I’m enjoying writing it. I’m enjoying getting to know a new cast of characters and I’m still excited by the idea (all that will change of course when I reach the 40,000 word doldrums and think it’s the worst book I’ve ever written). At some point the fear will kick in, as I battle imposter syndrome again, but there’s only one way to get through it. Write the best damn book I can. I can’t control what happens after I’ve finished it, but I can do that.
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