You’ve waited all your life to get published, so what happens next? Trying not to look smug is most important, although it’s hard to write this in fear of sounding conceited. I’m addressing this by not writing WHOOP! every other word. I am doing knee slides, but you can’t see them.

Achievement can be as hard as striving for it; ambitions are strangely hard to replace, even with success. The days following the news that my novel, The Life Assistance Agency, was signed were spent introducing my imminent publication into every conversation, some of which weren’t even happening in the first place. But, what to do for the next 10 months until the paperback’s in your hand, and hopefully 1/2 million others?

They greatest question facing a novelist is, does getting published justify wearing tweed? Wandering around wondering if I look enough like an author, is, I hope, a good start. A pipe might be too much, and the egg stained shirt is already covered, but it’s surprising how, well, normal I look. Perhaps these other people in Sainsbury’s are authors too, waiting for the opportunity to confess it with well-practiced self deprecation. I hope not. I want to be the ‘local author’. I consider hanging my publishing contract around my neck, but I don’t want to get egg on it. Perhaps I should wear a black polo neck favoured by Paris left bank intellectuals, although taking them off (polo necks I mean) involves removing a layer of facial skin and ruining your hair. However, the smouldering Gauloise and a frown might suggest internal wrestling with existential tension, which font to use (currently Century schoolbook MT) or at least what to have for tea.

You think everything will change once you’re published, but the greatest surprise is that the world keeps spinning. Planes remain  in the sky, children still deny they’re hungry moments after requesting seconds, and there’s no San Pellegrino sparkling from the kitchen tap. Finding room in a publisher’s schedules can be as long as two years, so ten months is relatively short run-in time , but it’s still long enough to forget what the novel’s called and why you wrote it. It is however the sweet spot between getting published and the reality of sales figures.

I’m sure there several sensible things to do while awaiting glowing reviews and world-conquering sales, which don’t involve daily googling your own name, but you may not find them here. It would be sensible to start the sequel, but I have a work ethic that makes George Michael appear Puritan. Writing a list always helps. Like don’t be editing as the manuscript goes into the printing press. I’ve done enough Final edits to justify redefining the word final. Mind you. although I’m unsure how many people have moaned about novels containing too few adjectives, but I’m pretty certain it’s none.

I need to practice my autograph. Yes, it’s no longer a signature, which is something I wish I’d had the foresight to see when I practiced signing my name at 13 because everyone else was. The problem is it’s never evolved.  Flies dying in ink write with more consistency than my signature. Any novels I sign will be less valuable once I’ve scrawled over them like I’m endeavouring to get the biro to work. Hemmingway apparently said ‘write drunk, edit sober’, but his advice on book signing is unclear. On heavy sedatives probably, but my scrawl already appears to be written by someone imminently embracing unconsciousness.

However, I do feel positive about its publication, not with the over-opitimism of a razor seller in Shoreditch, but having already sold 250 copies on pre-order, Lee Childs had better watch out. The lead-in is like the phoney war of 1938, well, at least without the imminent invasion of southern England. SUV drivers still refuse to flash anyone out onto main roads, and I’m still missing the doors as trains slide into platforms, but I sense a tremor of possibility. And I’m already wondering whether a Porsche engineered kettle counts as owning a Porsche. Roll on September, I fancy a buffet with my name on it.

To order your copy of The Life Assistance Agency published by Urbane Publishing in September please go here –

http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-life-assistance-agency,thomas-hocknell-9781911129035

or even better, to your local bookshop in September; I’ll probably be there trying to get a pen to work.