This is the last post by Carol…and basically the last post of the #AuthorTakeOver – however come back tomorrow for one more thing! I thought out of all the content Carol has provided, this would be the best one to end on. I think it is such a fitting post, so for the last time…Over to Carol…..
How do you become a successful writer?
Way back in 2009, this was the question I typed into Google.
I couldn’t find any answers online so I started by writing a blog. I had little idea as to what a blog even was or how to set up one, but after a few days of research, FACING 50 WITH HUMOUR was ready and I wrote it as I intended my book to be written, from the point of view of a woman facing fifty with all the challenges that brought, a grumpy husband, an errant teenager and an octogenarian mother who was partying her life away in Cyprus.
The book MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES was my debut novel, born from personal experience (Yes, I had a grumpy husband, errant teenager and a partying octogenarian mother, although unlike Grace in the book, she didn’t have a toy boy.) The book’s success was down to the number of followers I accrued, because like Amanda in the book, my blog became immensely popular, with thousands of followers in under a year. I held a virtual party at the blog the day the book was launched and it shot up the charts albeit only for a day.
I guess that was my first lucky break because Woman’s Own magazine were writing an article about successful writers and I was chosen as a successful self-published one. Being in the magazine, along with ace reviews and effusive emails from readers begging for more Amanda books gave me the impetus to write a sequel. I chanced upon a small publishing house who, impressed by my appearance in a national magazine, took on both books. It was a step in the right direction but I was nowhere near ‘successful’.
I need more lucky breaks and they came… another publisher, another book and yet another and then, GRUMPY OLD MENOPAUSE, a humorous non-fiction book that saw me interviewed on BBC Breakfast television and on numerous radio stations and own the People’s Book Prize Award. This was my turning point. I was getting noticed.
I wrote more books, some bombed, some struggled, one or two did okay, but then, my publisher went to the wall , my books went out of print and I was back to square one. No books to my name.
In spite of wanting to give up writing altogether, I sent a script, LIFE SWAP, to Bookouture, a digital publishing house with a good reputation and… yes! They wanted it.
The book did well and I was offered a contract to write more comedies but after submitting, TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, I asked if they’d like to see a detective novel I’d written. My editor said, ‘Why not?’ She loved it and asked if I could write a detective series and so DI Robyn Carter was born.
My life changed after the publication of LITTLE GIRL LOST. I quickly became established as a crime writer and although I had two more comedies published by Canelo, I stuck to crime and a second series, featuring DI Natalie Ward.
My journey has had highs and some very bad lows. Today, I discovered I’ve sold over 3/4 million copies of my books published by Bookouture. I thought about those early days when every 100 books sold made me cheer. Never could I have imagined I’d sell three quarters of a million copies. Those numbers belonged to big named writers, not me.
I can’t express the gratitude that accompanies these words because the sales have only come about thanks to support from all those who have been on this journey with me: those people who followed my blog, helped launch me, subsequent book bloggers, online friends, my street team who supports me daily and all my readers and a huge dollop of luck.
My answer to the question, ‘How do you become a successful writer?’ is, ‘How do you measure success?’ Of course the sales matter. I need to pay my bills like anybody else, but for me, success is the wonderful emails and friendly messages from readers who love my writing; it’s the people I’ve met along the way who have supported me and encouraged me; it’s the joy of coming up a whole new plot; the excitement when a book is about to go into the wide world and waiting for reactions to it. Success can be measured by far more than numbers and if you can provide escapism or make people laugh and take them away from their daily lives for a while, or if you can keep them up until the wee hours, reading, then you are successful.
Thank you so much Carol for sharing this journey with us and for everything else. I think this is a perfect way to finish our #AuthorTakeOver but please do come back tomorrow for one last Hur-rah!
Until next time xxx