The Best Thing About Getting Published

Welcome to the Distress Signals Blogging Bonanza! What’s that, you’re wondering? Well, you can either go and read this post or read the next sentence. In a nutshell: Distress Signals was out in paperback in the UK and Ireland on January 5 and hits the U.S.A. on February 2, and every day in between I’m going to blog as per the schedule at the bottom of this post.

Remember: there’s a super sexy hardcover edition of Distress Signals (the American one, out February 2) up for grabs, signed to you from me. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post or any post published here between January 5 and February 2. One entry per post, so comment on more than one and increase your chances. Open globally. Good luck!

If you’re in Ireland or the UK, you can download Distress Signals for just 99p for a limited time.

BACK IN NOVEMBER, I brought my friend Iain to the Irish Book Awards. We’ve know each other for eleven years and he’s one of my favourite people, but he was, unfortunately, in the U.S. with work the night of my book launch back in May. Being Instagram-ready and owning his own (blue) tux, I thought the perfect commiseration prize would be to come with me to the Irish Book Awards. Getting shortlisted for Crime Novel of the Year was obviously a huge deal for me, but when Iain asked if it was the highlight of this whole getting-published adventure, I don’t think he expected me to say no.

Don’t get me wrong – it was fabulous. But the actual highlight was a tweet from a stranger who’d just finished Distress Signals. I received it over the summer. It contained the phrase ‘Thank you for those lovely hours of reading’. And I don’t know why, but it struck me right in the feels.

I think because my idea of pure joy is to curl up on the couch with a fabulous book, a blanket and a cup of tea, and lose myself in another world, and to wander back, hours later, feeling like those hours were well spent. So the idea that I could have given that to someone else was honestly – without turning this into a total cheesefest – the best thing that had ever happened to me.

So I thought, instead of a year-in-review type post, I’d tell you about some of the other ‘best’ moments I’ve experienced since my book came out, the kind of things that have made all the hard work utterly worthwhile…


If you follow any authors online, you’ll know what an exciting moment it is when you get a box of your books for the first time. I can tell you firsthand that the excitement is the same whether you’ve self-published on CreateSpace or whether a whole team of people you’ve never met have put your book together at a publishing house. I clearly remember the moment I first held finished copies of Distress Signals in my hand back in March, and I clearly remember the moment nearly six years before that when I opened a box and saw stacks of Mousetrapped inside.


But the smallest box was the biggest surprise. It was from Blackstone, my U.S. publisher, and it contained two wonderful treats: proof copies of the book and some of the ‘cruise brochures’ they’d made to send out to reviewers. I’d been expecting them. But what I hadn’t been expecting was that the proofs would be in hardcover. I love to read and I love to write, but I also love books, the physical objects themselves. Holding a beautiful hardcover edition of my book – way earlier than expected – was quite the treat indeed.

A Starbucks Shock

The week my book came out was probably the busiest, most exciting week of my life – because I had two book launches (one in Dublin, one in Cork), some of my best friends travelled from abroad (from Munich, Orlando and Orlando via Madrid) and I had university exams to contend with as well (update: I passed everything). You can relive the madness in this post.

One of the best moments of the whole thing though happened while I was sitting in Starbucks with my brother the morning after the Cork launch. Scrolling through Twitter, I saw that the Irish Times online had published the article I’d written for them on the secret of getting published. The tweet with the link said Distress Signals was going to be reviewed the following Saturday.

Well, my stomach dropped. This was the first I heard of the book getting a broadsheet review and of course my immediate thought was, What if they hate it? This was Tuesday – there were three days of worrying about this to go before I’d be put out of my misery. I felt sick. But then I clicked the link and scrolled through the (short) article to remind myself what I’d actually written, and down the bottom was this:


Well, I actually squealed in the middle of Starbucks. My brother didn’t know what was happening. It was so much good news in one moment: a review in the Irish Times, a good one, and me not having to spend the next three nights awake in the dark wondering – hoping, praying – that the reviewer didn’t think it was a load of crap. Hooray! (You can read the full review here.)


The following Sunday was a beautifully sunny one in Dublin. (This was back in May.) I live in a place which basically has a Starbucks nearby no matter what direction you head in, so on this morning I picked up some newspapers and headed to an outdoor table at my nearest one. I knew I was going to be in the Sunday Times because I’d written the piece but as I flipped through the Sunday Independent, I found a review of the book in there too! It was such a nice moment: sunshine, coffee and an unexpected review.


Plus, there in black and white: my debut thriller on the bestseller lists. No. 8 in Original Fiction.

Coffee never tasted so good.


If you use Instagram, you’ll know that at the year’s end there’s a tradition of posting your ‘best nine’, an automatically generated collage of your most popular nine posts of the year. I, however, decided to manually choose mine, and I picked out the nine pictures that represented the highlights of my 2016.


They were, going left to right, row by row:

  1. Receiving finished copies of Distress Signals for the first time and immediately throwing a shelf of books to the floor so I could snap a picture of them all lined up (with matching flowers, obviously!)
  2. A fortnight before the book came out I took myself off to Paris, by myself, for a few days, just to have a bit of quiet Me Time before all the book launching, exam-taking and Book 2-writing started. This was taken at Les Deux Magots and that book is one of my favourites: A Writer’s Paris by Eric Maisel. It’s a book of dreams.
  3. My writing bestie Hazel Gaynor launched her book The Girl From The Savoy in a cocktail-soaked, 1920s themed party and being the best pals ever, myself and Sheena Lambert (The Lake) came dressed appropriately.
  4. Late in the summer I stayed in a hotel in Villefranche, about 10 minutes’ drive from Nice, that offered the most exquisite view of any hotel room – or room in general – I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in. As this was just a week after the horrific Bastille Day attack it was quite a sad, sobering time to be in the area, but tourism is their livelihood and I thought it was important to go anyway and show my support for the city I love.
  5. The aforementioned Hazel missed my book launch because she was in the only place I couldn’t be angry at her for choosing instead: Orlando. I actually emitted a high-pitched noise when I saw this picture on Facebook. She took a copy of the book to one of my favourite places on earth, Kennedy Space Centre, and got an, ahem, astronaut to hold it. I mean
  6. Back to Villefranche again. It features in the book, because it’s where Adam disembarks the Celebrate, and I spent some time writing it there tooThey have an adorable free library in the village square, so I left a copy of Distress Signals in there, with a note inside (see below). I wonder who got it?
  7. It wasn’t all full and games, because 2016 was really dominated for me with the writing of Book 2. Moving swiftly on—
  8. An absolute high point: the shortlist announcement for the Irish Book Awards. Distress Signals was nominated for Crime Novel of the Year alongside my hero Tana French (for The Trespasser) and, better yet, I got to celebrate it alongside many dear writing friends who were, in an astronomical defeat for the “it’ll never happen/give up on your dreams” crowd, also nominated. (Read more about that here.)
  9. And after all that… Relaxing at home with my family at Christmas. And wine!

PicMonkey Collage

But you know what?

In all honestly, the best moment was still that tweet. Thank you for those nice hours of reading.

Thank you for reading this.


Quick reminder: leave a comment on this post to be in with a chance to win a copy of Distress Signals. Also, it’s just 99p to download right now! 

22 thoughts on “The Best Thing About Getting Published

  1. Susie Murphy says:

    That’s exactly the thing that pushes me to keep writing – I’ve had so many memorable hours reading special books and thinking about them afterwards, and would love to be able to give even a tiny scrap of that feeling to someone else. You’ve had an amazing year with lots of great moments, I’m absolutely delighted for you!

  2. Clare B. Daly says:

    A brilliant post and great article in the Times. I dream of one day getting a box of my own books delivered and having people escape into my work. Can only imagine what that feels like and reading your posts keeps me focussed on the right path and my bottom in the chair. Its great to see that talent backed by perseverance and hard work pay off. Also I loved Distress Signals. It was my first purchase on my new Kindle at Christmas. Couldn’t put it down. Congratulations – a brilliant read!

  3. June says:

    “Instagram-ready” – indeed he is! (You both looked fab, actually.)
    Well done on a crazy, fabulous, whirlwind of a year and on writing such a great, great read of a book.

  4. gwrinc says:

    Your squeal of joy in Starbucks: Is a great book review better than … ?
    Congratulations are due for the inginuety of this reviewer, Declan Hughes, in finding just the right words to praise you, as an Author, your story-line and the publishers wisdom will help propell Distress Signals to the Number One Position in the best sellers list. And if it doesn’t reach number 1, you can’t blame him. He tried to help. He obviously enjoyed it as much as I did. Looking forward to Book 2

  5. Joel D Canfield says:

    Right behind the love of my children is the feeling I get when a reader says my books or music gave them joy. I mean, a thing didn’t exist and I created it and it gave another person joy.

    It is, literally, divine.

  6. reginajc777 says:

    Wonderful post! Everything in it tells a story not just of your achievement, but of your grand spirit.

    Kudos, Catherine!

    Regina Clarke Rhinebeck, NY

    On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 4:38 AM, CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD wrote:

    > catherineryanhoward posted: “Welcome to the Distress Signals Blogging > Bonanza! What’s that, you’re wondering? Well, you can either go and read > this post or read the next sentence. In a nutshell: Distress Signals > was out in paperback in the UK and Ireland on January 5 and hits the U.S” >

  7. dpatneaude says:

    Congrats on all the writing success, Catherine. I’m currently going through (again!) the third edition of SELF-PRINTED, preparing to launch an e-book version of my teen novel EPITAPH ROAD, which went out of print when Egmont pulled up its stakes and left the US. I haven’t read DISTRESS SIGNALS yet, but it’s evident from working my way through this and an earlier version of SELF-PRINTED that the “secret” to your success is hard work.

  8. Carl Ebdon says:

    Hi Catherine, I don’t often read everyone’s posts right to the end but this one just drew me in and really inspired me to keep writing. Hopefully i’ll win the hardback copy of Distress Signals but, if not, I shall add it to my birthday wish list in February.

    Well done on your success and I loved the astronaut pic but the best part for me was when you took the time to leave a copy of your book in the free library with that note. It would be great to know where it went! 🙂

  9. Elizabeth Crawford says:

    About two years ago, you wrote a review of a TV series. For the life of me, I can’t remember anything about the series. The title, the plot … anything. It’s funny because at the time it was important enough to google. As luck would have it, I found a post by you. You wrote about investing time in it and (like me) felt overly annoyed by its unsatisfying ending.
    What really caught my attention was your skill as a writer. Your post was funny and witty and said a lot in a little space. I have no expertise to judge, I only know what I like. So, with the awesome power of the internet, linked to see what more you had to say.
    I have been following your journey – phasing in and out along the way to live my life – and am waiting for the February release in the US of your book. I was going to buy an eBook version but decided against it. I’d like to have it on my shelf so I can offer it to my family or friends, who I know will love a good read and a good writer.
    I’m not concerned with winning a signed copy, if there will be signed copies for sale.

    Best of luck in your adventures,
    Beth Crawford

  10. avrilsilk says:

    There is a wonderful generosity in your writing. You draw us into your world, sharing your worries, crises, joy and triumphs with honesty and humour and most of all, you remind us that success is a real possibility.

  11. Barbara A Abate says:

    Wowsie wow, just love this post. Even once I’ve finished reading–still feeling the delicious glow of this creamy collage of awesome writerly moments. So looking forward to my own “nice hours of reading” with the US release of Distress Signals. Well done, Catherine!

  12. everydaychoicesblog says:

    I’m thrilled to have stumbled upon your post in search of a great blog, I can just feel the excitement in your voice about the reviews and rewards. Well done, and here’s a New Year of more success!! 🙂

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