Now that the whirling debut dust has settled, Lui Sit invites Yvonne Banham to talk about one thing she's learnt since becoming a published author.

'Whirlwind' is right! And there are very much two parts to it. First, the wonderful stuff that happens around and after publication, but also the things that are often not spoken about. Tricky, difficult to manoeuvre things. So, this is my own personal whirlwind following the publication of The Dark and Dangerous Gifts of Delores Mackenzie in April 2023.


Before the launch, I was excited, nervous, worried, elated… all the emotions you would expect. Luckily, I had the support of my brilliant family, writer friends and publisher. I got to celebrate the launch at the wonderful Edinburgh Bookshop, expertly chaired by great friend Sarah Broadley, and had the best night. I even had the unexpected (and most unattractive) ‘bursting into tears’ moment when a friend I hadn’t seen since school came along.


Yvonne and Sarah Broadley

But this is more about what happened afterwards.


It’s the good stuff we all dream about, but I wasn’t sure who would stock my book and didn’t really want to ask. Always ask! It was stocked by some wonderful independents, and I also got amazing support from Waterstones, with Delores showing up everywhere from Piccadilly to Princes Street, all the way up to Inverness. I went from wondering if it would be stocked anywhere, to being sent photographs of it on tables, face out and with bookseller comments. I was mentioned in The Literary Review, had some gorgeous publicity in The Bookseller, had a slot at Edinburgh International Book Festival (stuff of dreams!), and other glorious stuff. The year was quite literally book-ended, by the arrival of a beautiful Italian edition.


Phew! Nothing to worry about, right? So why was I swinging from elated to anxious, from excited to plain weird and back round again on a regular basis?


You don’t see this part on social media, and the one time someone did bravely post about it they suffered an absolute pile-on. But when I asked other published authors privately, these emotions are way more common than you might think, and I feel it needs to be talked about more openly. There’s a lot of pressure to only express the happiness that you got there in the end. I am extremely grateful to be where I am, but it can be a lot to manage. You’ve put your heart and soul into something that is now out in the world, with a life of its own, way beyond your control. So many of us are more introverted by nature but suddenly you have to become an extravert and a public one at that. And there’s always that little whisper in my head saying stop showing off. This is when you’ll really need the writer friends you’ve built up over the years. Apart from my long suffering other half, I leaned heavily on my Undiscovered Voices group, my fellow SCBWI Scotlanders and a handful of close writer friends. 

I also fell into spending far too much time on social media and it’s only now that I’m successfully regulating that. It’s a useful and necessary tool but remember that people almost exclusively post the good stuff. It can feel like everyone is doing way better than you and easy to forget to rejoice in your own successes. You MUST celebrate every little thing because the industry moves on to the next round of debuts stunningly quickly. I went from more contact and exposure than I ever dreamt of to… well, tumbleweed, and then quickly back into an upswing as new events approached. 

Amongst all of this, you’re hopefully writing your next book. That was my cosy place, a reminder of why I do this, of how much I love writing. I did sometimes find it hard to focus on new words, but it was important to me not to be at a standing start once everything quietened down. You might feel totally different of course, but if not, please know you’re not alone.


Back to the positives. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed events, both online (amazing for a complete technophobe) and in person, especially panels. I even enjoy making videos, though they take me a ridiculous amount of time to do. I get rushes of anxiety after events as I run through what I did and didn’t say, but it’s more than worth it. One of the highlights of my year was a young reader bringing a copy to be signed that had obviously been read multiple times. There is no better review than that, and no better feeling.


I still can’t believe how challenging I found it to go into book shops and introduce myself, which is ridiculous because every bookseller I’ve spoken to has been so lovely. Some of the best moments have happened while signing copies, but I still find it hard to start the conversation.


So, what would I change? I think it’s normal to look at what you could have done better but I’ll save that for the next book. I’ve learned to ask; I’ve learned to celebrate, and I’m still learning not to be so hard on myself. I’ve also learned what a wonderful thing it is to have your book in the hands of readers. You only get one debut, so lap it up, take lots of photographs and be proud of what you’ve achieved. As for next time? More celebrating, less worrying and most definitely less time down social media rabbit holes.


Yvonne Banham grew up on an island off the coast of Cumbria and spent lots of time huddled on blustery beaches with a book or three. She believes in ghosts though she’s never met one and after five gloriously spooky years in Edinburgh, she now lives in Stirlingshire with her husband and their ancient beagle, Toby. Her debut novel The Dark and Dangerous Gifts of Delores Mackenzie was published by Firefly Press in April 2023. Find Yvonne on X, Instagram or Threads

Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo
Photos courtesy of Yvonne Banham


Lui Sit writes MG, non-fiction, adult short stories, and memoir. She is agented by Becky Bagnell of Lindsay Literary Agency. Find her on X, Instagram and on her website.


Anne Boyere is one of Words & Pictures' Feature Editors and runs the #SCBWIchat X chat about books for all ages @SCBWI_BI. You can find her on X.

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