Yesterday (Wednesday 27th April), two special things happened that I wanted to share with you that made me feel very proud.
The first thing was a personal success. Spring Tides at The Starfish Caféhit a whopping milestone of 1,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon after just three weeks. Actually, it was the three weeks and one day anniversary to be specific.
Thank you so much to everyone who has left a review or rating, making this milestone possible. Thank you to all those who’ve done this on Apple, Kobo, Audible and anywhere else as I appreciate all reviews, wherever they’re left. I only tend to shout about the Amazon ones because they’re the larger source.
When we released the first book in the series, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café,we were a little nervous about it. It was the most emotional story I’d ever written, it was set in winter and included Christmas but wasn’t a Christmas book, and it was a new location, albeit within Whitsborough Bay. What if readers didn’t like it? What if they didn’t take to the new setting? What if they thought it was too sad? What if they wanted all the Christmas feels and didn’t like that a warm and fuzzy Christmas glow wasn’t what the book was all about and it centred on characters who struggled at that time of year? As it turns out, we needn’t have worried at all. It’s my most reviewed book to date (4,363 reviews/ratings on Amazon alone at the time of writing this) and possibly my fastest-selling so far!
You’d think that, with that success, I wouldn’t have been nervous about the release of the sequel, Spring Tides at The Starfish Café, but I was. Readers/listeners had actually loved how emotional Snowflakes was but the heartstrings are pulled when Hollie and Jake’s tragic pasts are revealed. In Spring Tides we already know about their pasts and they’re moving forward into the next stage of their lives so this story isn’t as emotional. Would readers reject it for that reason? Thankfully no as the reviews show.
Is this book the quickest to get to the 1,000 milestone? Not quite but almost. That record is held for me by the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. Released in early May 2021, HH3 hit 1,000 on the three-week anniversary exactly so Spring Tides is just one day behind! Book 4 in that series, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow,reached 1,000 on its four-week anniversary so Spring Tides ‘beat’ that one although I am inclined to think that reviews came in at a slightly slower rate as some readers were still on the Christmas reads at that point and/or waiting until they’d settled into the return to school/work routine after the New Year before reading it.
I’m so proud of those hedgehogs as they keep gathering fans and hedge-hugs with well over 12.5k reviews/ratings between them on Amazon now, each well past the milestone listed below:
The second win yesterday was actually a double win for my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books. They only opened for submissions in February 2019 with their first four titles released in August that year so haven’t even hit their third publication anniversary yet but have already taken the publishing world by storm. Some seriously impressive stats include 77 authors, over 200 titles published, 6 million books sold, 60 top 10 bestsellers, 2 USA Today bestsellers and over 250,000 Amazon 5-star reviews. That’s absolutely amazing! They’ve won several awards during this short time and have been shortlisted for others.
Yesterday at the IPG (Independent Publishers Guild) Independent Publishing Awards 2022, they scooped the win for Trade Publisher of the Year and for Independent Publisher of the Year. Woo hoo! Absolutely amazing and I’m so proud to be part of such an impressive, innovative and friendly team. Photo credit: Boldwood Books, shamelessly nicked from Twitter!
So yesterday was a very happy day for celebrations. And in other happy news this week, I’ve had the title confirmed for the sixth Hedgehog Hollow book and have seen the cover. I love both and can’t wait to share them with you … but that’s for another day.
Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café went into Global Prime Reading this morning. This means it can be accessed for FREE by anyone in Prime Reading in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, USA and possibly a few other territories.
Titles stay in Prime for at least twelve weeks so you have plenty of time to get hold of it.
If you’re thinking it’s purely a Christmas book so you won’t be interested, that’s not the case. It’s set over the winter season – November to February – with backstory chapters covering other times of the year. Yes, Christmas does feature but it’s a seasonal rather than a pure Christmas story so perfect for reading all year round.
If you’re not a Prime reader, you can still pick this title (and all my others) up for FREE in Kindle Unlimited and, if you’re not a subscriber to that either, it’s only 99p on eBook on all platforms so a bargain whichever way you look at it.
And don’t forget that, as per my blog post yesterday, it’s also only £3 as part of the Audible UK sale until the end of Sunday (27th February) along with Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow.
Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite. Please do spread the word if you have friends/family who might enjoy any of these offers.
With 3,350 ratings on Amazon, currently 93% positive, I’m very excited to see what impact the Prime promotion has on chart position and ratings.
Big hugs Jessica xx
‘Heartbreakingly moving and yet beautifully uplifting, I cried for all the right reasons!’ Jo Bartlett
‘I fell in love with this story from page one.’ Helen J Rolfe
‘Achingly poignant, yet full of hope – You will fall in love with this beautiful Christmas story’ Sandy Barker
‘A tender love story, full of sweet touches and beautiful characters.’ Beth Moran
Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.
Two broken hearts.
Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…
An unexpected meeting.
Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…
The chance to love again.
Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? After all, with courage, nothing is impossible…
Join top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a magical winter at the seaside, where love blossoms and lifelong friendships are made.
If you’re a fan of Yeo Valley’s products, you may already be a collector of Yeokens. There’s a special code on every Yeo Valley pack and those who register for the programme can enter the codes online and build up their Yeokens balance which can then be exchanged for discounts, goodies, days out or charitable donations. You can read more about Yeokens on Yeo Valley’s website here.
In an industry first, the brilliantly innovative Boldwood Books have partnered with Yeo Valley to offer discounted audiobooks in exchange for Yeokens.
There are six Boldwood titles currently on offer in a range of genres from Heather Atkinson, Rosie Clarke, Shari Low, Helen McGinn, Louise Douglas and me! I’m thrilled that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is one of them.
As you can see from the promo visual, 75 Yeokens gives 75% off a selected Boldwood audiobook which is a fabulous discount.
So, if you’re a Yeokens collector and have some spare Yeokens, here’s a great way to ‘spend’ them.
In a world where so much continues to be confusing and frightening, I’ve been making the most of the happier things that have happened across the past week: adding the finishing touches to the Christmas decorations, a phenomenal semi-final on Strictly, a glowing report from my daughter’s virtual parents’ evening and a lovely day out to a stately home with an author friend.
The past week has brought much to celebrate in my writing too…
Today, I hit a fabulous milestone for two of my books. Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café passed 1,500 reviews/ratings on Amazon and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes hit 2,500.
I’m absolutely delighted! It shouldn’t be long before I’m celebrating Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop hitting 1,000 and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café reaching a whopping 3,000. The former will probably get there by the weekend and the latter will hopefully make it by the end of the year.
Isn’t it funny how all four of my seasonal books will hit an exact milestone at around the same time?
DOUBLE TOP 100 SUCCESS
I was absolutely delighted to see Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop in the Kindle Top 100 in the UK at exactly the same time. They danced around each other a bit at the bottom of the chart with Christmas Wishes passing Starfish Café on one occasion.
Although Christmas Wishes didn’t stick around in the Top 100 for long, it was wonderful to see Charlee’s story there. Starfish Café has done me so proud, hanging around in the Top 100 fairly solidly since mid-November and peaking as high as #56.
There was also some success for Christmas Wishes on the Apple Books chart with a Top 10 position in the Fiction & Literature Chart and Top 100 in the overall chart too.
Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café was selected by Boldwood’s reading community as their choice for the very first #BoldBookClub which started with a readalong this week. There’s a book club question posed each day and various competitions and giveaways running so do pop over to Instagram – look for @BookandTonic – to join in.
I’ve been delighted with the buzz and the amazing answers to the book club questions so far. Tonight, there was an Instagram Live where 3 amazing bloggers – Fiona, Meena and Jav – joined me to ask questions and I did a quick reading. You can find the Live here. A huge thank you to Fiona, Meena and Jav for the great questions, to Claire for keeping me right with the technicalities (newbie here!) and to all those who stopped by.
FAVOURITE READS OF 2021
It’s the time of year when book bloggers/reviewers start sharing their favourite reads of the year.
Joanne from Portobello Book Blogs delighted me with the news that All You Need is Love was one of her top reads of the first quarter of the year! Wow! It’s one of my favourite books that I’ve written so this was a particular honour for me. You can find the blog post here. Thank you so very much, Joanne.
Then yesterday I received the amazing news that Claire at Book Lovers Anonymous (find her on Facebook here) had announced her top 5 books of 2021 out of 300 she’s read and A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow was at #5. It isn’t out until 6th January but Claire, as a blogger, had an advanced copy so it fell into her 2021 reading.
Claire wrote, “fantastic addition to a phenomenal series. I love Samantha and I hope the series never ends”. Awww!
The good news didn’t end there as Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café also featured in her top 5. At number 1!!!!! Eek!!!! I am so thrilled.
Claire wrote, “Another fantastic book by the super talented Jessica Redland [pauses to blush and pinch self]… Honestly, never has a book made me feel so much emotion, and it will be a book I will love forever”. Seriously, I was welling up reading that!
Claire sent me a badge to put on my website so hopefully I’ll remember how to do that and get it added soon but here it is in the meantime. Isn’t it pretty?
Thank you to everyone who has played any part in all these wonderful things. I appreciate it so very much. It’s still hard to believe that this time three years ago, I was at my lowest ever point with my writing and seriously questioning whether to call it a day. Writing is who I am so I knew I could never really let go but it was so hard back then. So to anyone for whom life is tough just now, who’s facing challenges, who’s feeling low, hang on in there as I’m living proof that time can change everything. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay believing in yourself.
At the start of this month, I posted about the Children in Read auction – an amazing auction of books and book-related items in aid of BBC’s Children in Need. You can read the post here.
At the time, I explained that I’d donated my Christmas on Castle Street trilogy as a lot. It had 7 bids and had already raised £25. I’m thrilled to report that, with still 8 days to go until bidding closes, an 8th bid has raised it to a whopping £45. Eek! Delighted with that.
I was delighted to get the news a couple of months ago that a fourth title of mine – Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Café – was going into The Works so I absolutely wasn’t expecting to have another title in there but I have exciting news…
I have another book available on The Works right now – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow.
I was planning to share this news as soon as the book appeared online but it hasn’t appeared on the website yet. However, my great friend and fellow author Jo Bartlett, spotted a copy in her local branch of The Works today in Broadstairs, Kent so it’s out there in some stores and will hopefully appear online really soon.
New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow is the second book in the Hedgehog Hollow series.The first book – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – went in during the summer so it’s fabulous having book two following its lead.
New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow can be read as a standalone book and I know plenty of readers who’ve loved it and followed the story well without reading the first book, especially as I provide a handy ‘story so far’ at the beginning. But I personally think that readers will enjoy a much richer reading experience and get to know the characters so much better by starting with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and reading the series in order.
As I’m with a small (but rapidly growing) independent publisher, you won’t find my books in supermarkets or book shops so it’s a real thrill to see them on the shelves of The Works. I nipped into Scarborough’s branch on Thursday and the hedgehogs weren’t there and I was in the Beverley branch today and they weren’t there either so I’ll try Scarborough again next week and hopefully be able sign copies again.
If you spot either book in your local branch, please do share a photo with me on Facebook or Twitter. I love seeing them in the wild (no pun intended for the hedgehogs!)
Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Café appears to have completely sold out online but there should still be copies in store. I think they’re also selling through quickly in store. There are none left in the Scarborough branch, there was one left in Beverley today and any other selfies I’ve seen only seem to have 1 or 2 copies on the photo which is exciting (I put the one copy below in front of someone else’s books for the photo opp!)
I am thrilled that today is publication day for my very first foreign rights deal. Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café has been acquired by Italian publisher Newton Compton and is released today as an eBook and paperback under the title of Festa sotto la neve.
Isn’t the cover gorgeous?
I don’t speak any Italian so I asked Google translate to help me out and came up with ‘Party in the snow’ which is a little different to the original. Spotting a couple of promotional posts and copying them into Google translate, I also had ‘Party on the snow’ and ‘Party under the snow’ coming up. Which was it? Probably none of them!
I contacted friend and author Isabella Tartaruga who is Italian and she kindly advised me that ‘festa’ does indeed mean party but it also translates as holiday as in festive season as in Christmas although Natale is the actual word for Christmas. Therefore, in this context, the title translates as ‘A holiday under the snow’ or ‘A snowy holiday’. Aw, isn’t that lovely?
The tagline of La magia del Natale, alla fine, conquista tutti… means ‘the magic of Christmas will eventually conquer all’.
Newton Compton describe it as Il libro perfetto per rifugiarsi sotto le coperte e aspettare Natale which translates as the perfect book to take refuge under the covers and wait for Christmas.
A huge thank you to Newton Compton for taking on this book. I’m keeping everything crossed that it will do well and that they might be inspired to take on some of my other titles.
Although the title and cover is different, the story will be exactly the same – just translated into Italian. I’m really looking forward to getting my paperback version so I can see what The Chocolate Pot is in Italian. You can order direct from Newton Compton here or find the listing on Amazon here.
If you have friends/family living in Italy, please do pass this on. If anyone sees a paperback out in the wild, I would be so thrilled to see a shelfie.
Last week, I had a Zoom meeting with my publisher where they shared the most amazing news about a milestone that my book sales have achieved. I wanted to write a blog post about it, but I was chasing a deadline and could only manage a quick share on the socials. Thank you so much for all the amazing and supportive comments I received. I appreciated them so much.
The milestone was a whopping 500k – or half a million (sounds more somehow!) – sales of my books through Boldwood Books. This is across all formats and all titles released through Boldwood from my first one – The Secret to Happiness – which was released in September 2019 right up to the end of September 2021, therefore covering a two-year period and thirteen titles, although two of those had only just been released in August so haven’t had a chance to gather many sales yet.
If you’ve followed my blog or my journey for a while, you’ll understand how much this milestone means to me and what a big deal it is after such a shaky start as an author.
When I secured a 3-book publishing deal with my debut novel back in 2014 – following 23 rejections – I thought I’d made it. You would, wouldn’t you? I actually had two offers come through round about the same time so had a very happy decision on my hands. My first full-length novel through my chosen publisher was released in June 2015 but we released a novella just before it which acted as a great introduction to the series. The remaining books came out in March 2016 and August 2016 respectively. My publishers were lovely and enthusiastic but they were a new entrant to the market and had overestimated their ability to make an impact. Having achieved fewer than 1,500 sales across the four titles in the space of 18 months, the publisher ceased trading and my rights were returned in autumn 2017. It was a crushing blow.
My husband hurriedly designed some new covers and, in November 2016, we released all 4 Kindle books as an independent author under the imprint ‘Little Bear Books’, Little Bear being my nickname. They tanked. That first November, I sold no eBooks. In December, I sold 7. In January, I sold 6. I’m sure you can imagine how soul-destroying that was!
I’d been working on another new novel which was called Bear With Me (since re-edited and rereleased through Boldwood as All You Need Is Love) and I thought that a new book on the market would make a huge difference. It made little impact.
A couple of Christmas releases in October finally gathered some momentum but, on the whole, I massively struggled as an indie author. I had days where I sold no books at all and, as the number of books I’d written steadily rose, that was increasingly disheartening. The frustrating thing was that those who read my books seemed to love them, but readers weren’t finding them. I did several free promotions in the hope that reading one book would generate sales of other books. It didn’t seem to. I knew I needed to spend time and money investing in advertising but where do you find time when you’re already working 7 days a week with the day job and where do you find money when writing isn’t making you any? It’s a Catch-22 situation where you need to invest to earn but you need to earn to be able to invest.
I decided to go on another round of submissions in late 2018 but, after being burnt first time around, was very selective about where I submitted. I received another 8 rejections, although some were from the same publisher for different books after giving me positive feedback and an open invitation to keep submitting. Each rejection made me crumble a little more and seriously question whether I was kidding myself that I had any talent. But writing is who I am. I couldn’t imagine not creating stories so I kept going even though it was looking like writing full-time was a dream I’d never achieve and that making it financially viable alongside a demanding full-time day job wasn’t looking good either.
And then Boldwood Books started up and I submitted on their very first day. I’d decided that this was my final attempt and, if it was a no too, I’d remain an indie author and keep hoping … or finally admit defeat. Thank goodness they said yes!
I’ve just done some number crunching. During my indie years – November 2016 to August 2019 – I sold 4,789 eBooks and gave away a frightening 3,558 eBooks for free, meaning ‘sales’ totalled 8,347 in just shy of 3 years. Add in my original publisher’s sales and we’re talking 9,814 copies shifted (only 6,256 of which generated any income) across 9 books in the space of 4 years and 2 months. Eek! This figure doesn’t include pages read on Kindle Unlimited as there isn’t an easy way for me to work out the equivalent of that in books sold.
So to have half a million sales in two years – an increase of about 5000% – makes for on extremely excitable, astonished and happy author. As a very rough calculation (if I’ve done my maths correctly), that’s an average 6 books a day (including the free ones) pre-Boldwood and 657 a day post-Boldwood. A tad different!
I have so many people to thank, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible:
My readers and listeners – whether you’ve supported me since the start or I’ve been recent discovery for you, I can’t thank you enough for falling in love with Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow
All the amazing bloggers and reviewers who have spread the word through your blogs and/or the socials, and recommended my books to your friends and followers. This is one of the most amazing things you can do for an author you love as recommendations make such a massive difference
The wonderfully lovely members of my own Facebook group, Redland’s Readers, who make me smile every day with their hedgehog pictures and gorgeous feedback
Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources who organises my blog tours for Boldwood but who also arranged several for me as an indie author. Thank you for such fabulous tours and for being a champion of my stories from the very start. I’m so grateful
My original writing family, The Write Romantics, for being there through the highs and lows of this bumpy journey, particularly Sharon Booth and Jo Bartlett who have helped raise me up or helped me unravel troublesome plot points. You are all absolute stars
My more recently adopted family, Boldwood Books. Not only have I achieved so many writing dreams since joining Boldwood, but I’ve joined the most fabulous group of people. Thank you to Amanda and Nia for believing in me and taking me on in the first place, to Claire and Megan behind the scenes, to those involved in all other aspects of the book’s journey – cover design, copy editing, proofreading – and all the wonderful authors who are so friendly and supportive
A second mention to my phenomenal editor, Nia Beynon, whose brilliant advice and editorial guidance is what shapes my words into the final version the readers and listeners experience and I could never have achieved this without her. Nia, I can’t thank you enough for being such a dream to work with
My amazing audiobook narrators – Lucy Brownhill, Emma Swan, James Dryden and Gareth Bennett-Ryan – for bringing the books to life and the team at ISIS Audio and Ulverscroft for the distribution
My mum, daughter and husband for being so amazingly supportive
I’m the first Boldwood author to have reached this milestone, although that’s mainly because I’m also the author with the most books released so far due to Boldwood taking on my entire backlist. My next target is to have an individual title join the 100k club. The first one to get there will be Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series although, with sales so far just below 77k, it’s still got a little way to go. Several of my Boldwood buddies have already achieved this, some with more than one book, which is absolutely phenomenal!
Thank you again, everyone. Here’s to the next half a million!
Big enormous happy hugs Jessica xx
PS Apologies for the missing bullet points. I swear I’ve added them in but WordPress is refusing to play ball!
Last month, the second audiobook in the Hedgehog Hollow series, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, was on offer in Audible UK’s 2 for 1 credit sale and it went extremely well with a great Top 100 position for the hedgehogs. Those lovely people over at Audible UK were so pleased that they’ve included the third book, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, in this week’s sale.
The landing page to see all the books in the deal is here and it’s so lovely to appear on the very first page although it is appearing under literature and fiction rather than romance where it usually appears:
Offers last a week and I got a bit bogged down with a deadline over the weekend and kind of forgot about this until the end of the day yesterday so I may have missed the highest chart position but I was thrilled to see the hedgehogs well inside the Top 100 at #74. It was also lovely to see so many number 1 category positions and what an honour to be just ahead of the phenomenally-selling Where the Crawdads Sing if for only a brief moment.
Thank you to anyone who has downloaded this. I hope you enjoy the third visit to Hedgehog Hollow. The hedgehogs are keen to welcome you back. Be warned: there is a whopper of a cliff hanger at the end of it. Please don’t get mad with me like some readers/listeners have and, instead, be excited that there is more to come on 6th January with A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow. It isn’t available for pre-order on Audible yet as it’s too early in the production – we’re at the proofreading stage of the manuscript – but it will be available on publication day.
I’m very excited to bring the fabulous news that The Works have taken on another of my titles.
Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café is now available online right here and should be appearing in branches of The Works very soon. A huge thank you to my amazing publisher Boldwood Books for making this happen.
This is the fourth of my titles to appear in The Works after The Secret to Happiness and Making Wishes at Bay View went in during summer 2000 and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow snuck in as a late addition just before we went into a second lockdown in the autumn.
All three of these sold out online fairly quickly last year but there may be the odd copy still to be found in stores, particularly if they’ve been positioned on the higher shelves (which means books don’t sell as quickly).
I’m in town tomorrow for an eye test so will be checking out the Scarborough branch of The Works but it usually appears in-store a short while after appearing online so I’m probably a bit early to catch it, especially when today is the first day Starry Skies has been available online.
All paperbacks in The Works are £2 or 3 for £5. Such a huge bargain and what a great excuse to treat yourself to three books… or six… or maybe nine! You could start your Christmas shopping with these great stocking-fillers.
Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.
But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely.
With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.
But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…
With over 1,700 reviews/ratings, 78% of which are 5-star and 16% of which are 4-star, this has been very warmly received by readers. Hot chocolate, Christmas and a giant house rabbit called Hercules … what more could you want?
If you do spot any of my books in a branch of The Works (or a garden centre, post office, local shop), please do post a shelfie on social media and tag me in. As my books don’t get stocked in the major bookshops or supermarkets, it’s a thrill to see them out and about.