Today – Saturday 23rd May 2020 – is a very special day for me because today is the day I first became a published author. Happy anniversary to me!
My first full-length novel was released on 3rd June 2015 but my publishers at the time – So Vain Books (no longer trading) – asked me if I’d write a short story linked to the series that they could release ahead of Searching for Steven (now refreshed and reissued through Boldwood Books as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms). I was up for the challenge but ‘short’ proved to be a bit too much of a challenge and I actually wrote a novella.
The original cover, then two versions as indie releases
At the start of Searching for Steven, Sarah returns home to Whitsborough Bay for a weekend and helps her Auntie Kay, the owner of flower shop Seaside Blooms, prepare the flowers for a wedding. The brother of the bride, Nick, collects them and my idea for the novella was to tell the story of how his sister, Callie, met the man she’s about to marry.
Raving About Rhys, released on 23rd May 2015, acted as a prequel to the trilogy that So Vain Books were going to publish, introducing the reader to the world of Whitsborough Bay and introducing Nick as one of the main characters in the trilogy.
A few years later, an idea for a sequel to Raving About Rhys kept nudging at me and Callie’s Christmas Wish – a short novel – was born.
My publishing deal with Boldwood Books was for a combination of new books and those from my back catalogue. We made the decision to combine Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish into one full-length novel – Making Wishes at Bay View – to be released as book 1 in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series. The full four-book series is available right now as an eBook on Kindle, Kobo and AppleBooks, as well as paperback and audio formats:
- Book 1 – Making Wishes at Bay View
- Book 2 – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms
- Book 3 – Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove
- Book 4 – Coming Home to Seashell Cottage
So much has changed in the five years since that first book was published. It’s been a half-decade of highs and lows.
- My original publisher ceasing trading
- Failing to make an impact as an indie writer
- Many days of zero sales and limited writing income
- Being rank-stripped twice by Amazon
- Giving a talk as part of a creative writing event in a cafe in town and nobody attending except two friends, the boyfriend of one of them, and two passers-by the embarrassed owner dragged in off the street
- Rejections when I looked for a second publishing deal
- Imposter syndrome
- Trying – and usually failing – to fit in writing on evenings and weekends around my demanding day job
But these were definitely outweighed by the highs:
- Securing my first publishing deal – and having two offers on the table
- Seeing my work out there for the first time ever
- Having a launch party for my friends and family
- Receiving great reviews
- The support of the blogging community, some of whom have been there since my very first release
- Writing and releasing another five more novels as an indie writer
- Obtaining a Masters in Creative Writing
- Giving talks in my local libraries
- Securing my publishing deal with Boldwood Books
- Releasing another brand new novel – The Secret to Happiness – through Boldwood Books
- Some amazing successes with the reissued Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series including Top 5 in the AppleBooks chart for Books 2-4 and #14 in the overall Kindle chart for Book 2
- Officially becoming a UK and international bestselling author, with The Secret to Happiness reaching #11 in Australia and #9 in Canada
- Holding the Boldwood paperbacks and audiobooks in my hands for the first time
- Readers emailing me or contacting me on social media to say how much they’ve loved my stories
- Readers telling me they’ve binge-read my entire back catalogue during lockdown and have valued the comfort and escapism my words have given them
- Finally feeling like a ‘real’ author
- Being able to resign from my day job to write full-time (two weeks left to go!)
Five years ago, I was wide awake at midnight, watching for Raving About Rhys appearing on my Kindle – a magical moment. I hoped it and the subsequent three books would be well-received but my dreams didn’t go much further than that. I’d written three books and a novella and I genuinely had no idea where that would take me. Would anyone want to read the ones I’d written? If so, would I be capable of writing more?
During those five years, I’ve had times when I’ve felt so low about poor chart positions, lack of sales, rejection and imposter syndrome that I wondered whether it was time to call it a day.
But all good things come to those who wait – not easy for someone like me who is so impatient when it comes to their career – and they certainly did. I will be forever grateful to Boldwood Books for believing in me and making me one of their first twenty authors.
Happy five year anniversary to me and I’m so excited about what could happen in the next five years. Boldwood have helped me tick so much off my author’s bucket list in the nine months since The Secret to Happiness was published, who knows what other amazing goals they’ll help me achieve next.
A huge thank you to Amanda, Nia, Megan and the rest of the team and fellow-authors at #TeamBoldwood. You’ve made my five-year anniversary a very happy one. Cheers!
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