If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you may have already spotted my news today but, in case you don’t, it has been a BIG NEWS day so let me tell you more…
I’m thrilled to announce that, as of the end of March 2023, I reached a milestone of ONE MILLION copies sold through Boldwood Books. Eek!
This is worldwide sales across all formats – digital, print and audio – for my first eighteen books. My first Boldwood release, The Secret to Happiness, came out in early September 2019 and my eighteenth was Healing Hearts at Bumblebee Barn which came out in late January this year. Summer Nights at The Starfish Café was released in April so is not included in this milestone, but is already helping me work towards the next one.
For any aspiring writers or struggling authors reading this and thinking, “A million? That could never happen to me,” stop right there because it could! I’ve been looking back over my sales from my pre-Boldwood days. If you don’t know my journey already, a quick recap is that I secured a publishing contract in 2014 and my publisher released three books and a novella between May 2015 and August 2016… then ceased trading. With my rights back as an indie author, I found it almost impossible to make any impact and that was my life for several years, hoping the next book would be the one to make the difference, despairing at the lack of sales.
During my time with my original publisher, I sold 2,467 copies. In my indie years from November 2016 – August 2019, I sold 4,079 copies so that’s 6,546 in 4 years and 4 months across 9 titles. My Christmas releases did reasonably well, but I had days on end where I’d sell no copies at all. Here’s an example of my sales dashboard from July 2019 – the month before my first Boldwood release. This was a common sight for me.
For full disclosure, I did have an additional income stream from books borrowed as part of the Kindle Unlimited programme but the reporting on that is by pages read so it’s not so easy to equate into book sales. I did far better on KU than I did with eBook sales but wasn’t setting the world alight with those either. I’m sure you can imagine how disheartening it was looking at 23 sales over 9 titles, 4+ years into my publishing journey.
When I joined Boldwood, they gradually acquired, edited and re-released my backlist and, as they started to find me a readership, my indie sales did increase, as you can see on the right of that graph where the bar chart is rising.
Going back to the sales struggles as an indie, it’s hard to keep going when you know you’re barely drawing any income and hardly anybody is reading your stories. What’s the point? Why keep going? Why spend every spare moment creating when nobody will get to enjoy the story? I know the answer to this! It’s because it doesn’t have to always be like that. Things can change. It takes a considerable amount of courage to hang on and keep going, but wonderful things can happen if you do. Like they did to me.
When I saw an advert on social media to say that Boldwood Books were forming and would be open for submissions from the start of February 2019, I was reeling from a small round of rejections and so close to giving up. “Just one more submission,” I told myself. If that was unsuccessful, I had some very serious thinking to do.
But it was successful. The Secret to Happiness was a slow-burner at first but things really kicked off in spring 2020 when my Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series was rapid-released across a two-month period. Making Wishes at Bay View was picked up for Apple’s Free Book of the Month and New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms went into Amazon’s Prime Reading and shot up the charts to my highest UK position to date – #14. I’d made it!
And a few years later, I’m celebrating a million sales. It doesn’t feel real! It’s as though it’s happening to someone else and I think that’s because hitting a million sales was never on my bucket list. It was the thing that other incredibly successful authors did and way out of reach. Someone pinch me! Although not too hard because I bruise like a peach.
Boldwood invited for afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason to celebrate this milestone and my second piece of news. We’d hoped we might hit the million by the end of February but were a little short, but it was the best timing for celebrating anyway as I was away over the Easter fortnight and Boldwood were at London Book Fair last week so April wasn’t an option.
I’ve never been to Fortnum and Mason before so that was a very special treat and how amazing was afternoon tea? Mmm. I could eat it all again right now! I was joined by Amanda (Founder and CEO), Claire (Head of Marketing) and Nia (Publishing / Sales & Marketing Director but also my editor) for celebrations and a strategy discussion for the years ahead.
I was given my own special celebration cake and also a beautiful commemorative glass plaque which now has pride of place on my desk. Because I hadn’t quite hit the million, it has been sitting in boxes in my office for over a month so it has been wonderful to get it out and displayed. Isn’t it lovely?
Boldwood run something called the 100k Club. When a book sells 100k copies, the author is sent a card welcoming them to the club and a celebratory gift, which is so nice. I’ve been celebrating several of my Boldwood colleagues joining the club, some with two or even three books, and I thought I was going to join them a couple of years back when sales of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow were doing brilliantly, but then it really slowed down. I can’t believe I’ve hit a million sales first – that was never on the radar.
I’m really hoping the hedgehogs will make it into the 100k Club by the end of the year as it’s still my bestselling book. And how close is it at 95,000!!!!
Here’s my top three bestsellers, which is actually four books because two are tied. It’s a battle between Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow!
If you’d like to listen to my video announcement earlier today, you can catch it on Book and Tonic’s Facebook page here.
THE BOOK DEAL
One million sales wasn’t the only thing we were celebrating during our afternoon tea. We were also celebrating the signing of my third contract with Boldwood Books – for SIXTEEN NEW BOOKS!
Yes, that’s pretty much the reaction I had when I was offered it!
I joined Boldwood in March 2019 with a nine-book publishing deal made up of five backlist titles and four new books but this had a couple of addendums to it to cover my entire backlist, making it a twelve-book deal. The backlist titles were released fairly quickly so it wasn’t long before I approached the end of that first contract and signed a second twelve-book deal in October 2020.
I’m still working through that deal. The Start of Something Wonderful – the first book in the Escape to the Lakes series – will be book 20, and my Christmas release (which I’m writing now) will be book 21 so I have another three books outstanding after that, taking me to my summer 2024 release. It’s therefore quite early for us to have had discussions about another contract but it was triggered by my Escape to the Lakes series. We anticipate this being a long series – maybe 10, 12, 15 books (assuming there’s reader love for it) – but I could only fit in two of them into my current contract and it felt a little strange to be writing a series with longevity without a contract to cover it. So we had a discussion about it earlier this year.
My husband was convinced I’d be offered another twelve-book deal but I didn’t think I would, having already had two of those. I was thinking maybe six or eight although, secretly, I’d have been a little disappointed. When my amazing editor Nia offered sixteen, I nearly fell off the chair! I got really emotional on the phone that Boldwood believed in me so much to offer such a big contract. Sixteen might sound scary to some but, as I write four books a year, it’s only a four-year contract which doesn’t sound quite so daunting as it would if I wrote one or two books a year.
You can catch my video announcement about this on Book and Tonic’s Facebook page here.
What can you expect from the rest of this contract? Things can change, but this is the current plan:
- The Start of Something Wonderful – Escape to the Lakes book 1 – July 2023
- A return to Castle Street at Christmas time – September 2023
- Escape to the Lakes book 2 – January 2024
- Bumblebee Barn sequel 2 – April 2024
- Long awaited (and overdue!) sequel to Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
What can you expect from the next contract?
- Plenty more from the Escape to the Lakes series
- Another Bumblebee Barn sequel
- More books set on Castle Street
- More books in Whitsborough Bay
- The start of a cosy crime series (anticipated for spring 2025 (and not 2015 as I say in the video!)) but, if it’s a disaster, this might not happen! I’m hoping all will come together, though
I’ve got a couple of part-started books which I’m excited to return to and really look forward to bringing you more from the Yorkshire Coast, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Lake District.
And, finally, there’s a limited time offer on Healing Hearts at Bumblebee Barn. If you’re a Prime reader (globally), you can read it for FREE and, like all my books, it’s in Kindle Unlimited, but for eBook users, it’s 99p right now and equivalent in some other territories so do check your eBook provider if you’re overseas as you might be able to bag yourself a bargain.
I love this book and readers seem to love the setting and characters, which is why we have sequels planned when this was meant to be a standalone!
While I’m on the subject of deals, just a heads up if you’re an Audible UK subscriber, you can pick up four of my audiobooks for £2.99 each right now, but do act fast as the deal ends just before midnight tonight (Saturday 22nd April). They ones on offer are:
- A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow
- Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow
- Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café
- Coming Home to Seashell Cottage
Wow! Big blog post! To finish, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has supported my writing. None of the news I’m sharing today would be possible without you, the readers, who have bought/borrowed/downloaded/streamed my books in whatever format. I’m so appreciative to you for helping keep me as a full-time author, able to share all the stories and characters with you who are buzzing round my mind.
And, of course, thank you to the amazing team at Boldwood Books for saying ‘yes’ to that submission and completely changing my life.
Big squishy extremely grateful hugs