“I self-published my second book, which was my driving force and focus for at least two years.
It accompanied me through good times (a few) and bad times (more!). The actual writing of the book took only a few months; that rush of hammering the keyboard morning, noon, and night to keep pace with the flow of words and ideas that poured from within me. The editing process took a good degree longer. Polishing every sentence, removing unnecessary words to create clarity and readability. For me, editing is much less enjoyable than writing, but is a job that must be done.
Like many authors, writing for me is a lonely profession. Long periods of time spent alone in a virtual world of your own making; I often think how my books know more about me that my closest loved ones do. Naturally, therefore, when it is time to release your book into the world, excitement quickly fades and loneliness sets in. How do we fill that gap and learn from it?
Writing her second book, Where the f**k is Blönduós?: Driving and surviving a winter in Iceland, came naturally to Emma Strandberg, pictured above. But the challenges of bringing a book to market singlehandedly underscores the solitary nature of an author’s journey.
Without the support of a dedicated publishing team or literary agent, I quickly metamorphosise into project manager.
Marketing, accounting, sales, and advertising must be handled, and it is an unpaid ‘I’ who takes care of this. My one concession is PR, where I am fortunate to have invested in a highly professional and competent team who have guided me through the unknown tundra of the PR and media world. The benefits of being a self-published author mean I retain control of my work at every stage and can control costs, investing where it is most needed.
As the weeks pass following publication, my elation turns to frustration. Sales are slow and the daily outpouring of new titles pushes my book into a literary abyss. Is it time to admit defeat and give up my dreams? Am I really an author or am I an imposter in their world, a wannabe? The culmination of years of hard work count for little and the sense of emptiness inhibits me from seeing clearly what steps I should take to move forward. After a couple of particularly dark days, knowing that loneliness can foster depression, I decide to be proactive.
I must increase my social network presence and engage with other writers online. I find that by sharing my situation it becomes a positive rather than a negative experience. Only another author can understand the unique feelings of letting a book go. The daily act of writing a blog starts to fill the void and becomes a new routine. Finally, I find myself writing again.
I have many ideas for future books and naturally gravitate to one subject which I have wished to write about for some time. As a writer of travel memoirs all my books a personal. Dare I again create a new friend who will accompany me daily for months, even years only to have to let go and be again lonely. It’s like asking should we love again after being hurt. The belief that my story is worth telling, that there is an audience that could benefit from sharing my journey and who could be inspired and even helped from it, persuades me to take the plunge and write my third book. As the weeks pass, I haven’t forgotten my first or second books, but they must make their own way in the world, I can’t influence the outcome more than I already have, and my energies now are channelled into my new writing.
As I reflect, I recognise how I have become stronger. I see areas in my writing that can be improved upon. This introspection is a hugely positive step which has helped me grow as a writer. I still feel the need to increase my engagement with readers. Book signings and publishing events mean for me a trip overseas and are therefore limited, but I am trying to create opportunities. There is always room for improvement, no matter the careers we choose, but what I have learnt is that the loneliness and frustration I felt following my release of my book is a natural part of being a writer, and not a failure within myself. As a travel writer I of all people should remember that it isn’t about the destination, but the journey that counts.
Emma Strandberg is a critically acclaimed travel writer and photographer whose two books have been hailed as “profound” and “masterpieces” by the British national press.
She has written two previous posts for PRscribe about her publishing journey: “Travel Writer Emma Strandberg on her Gruelling Publishing Journey” and “Travel Writer Emma Strandberg on the Evolution of Book Publishing”.
For further information about Emma and her books (including her third title, out soon) and photography, visit her website: emmastrandbergbooks.com