The end of the year is fast approaching (and if certain people are to be believed, the end of the world too) and I think it’s time to take stock of my progress as a writer over the last twelve months. I probably should do this privately but decided that I’d spill the beans publicly as I know quite a few of you are thinking about making forays into self publishing at some point. Also this is my first year as a full time novelist so I thought it’d be nice to share how I got on now that I’m apparently living my dream…
1. I published one book – Before the Storm, which is doing really well although isn’t quite as popular as The Secret Diary of a Princess: a novel of Marie Antoinette and Blood Sisters. That’s okay though, all my books developed momentum in their own sweet time and it’s still selling really nicely and getting some lovely reviews.
2. I galloped past the 20,000 books sold post, which was nice and am still averaging about 1,000 books sold every month. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach the giddy heights of 100,000 books sold but wouldn’t that be nice?
3. I started four books but am currently only working on one, which is about Henrietta Anne Stuart, the youngest and favourite sister of Charles II who was also sister-in-law and sometime girlfriend to Louis XIV. It’s going really well, although I’ve written over 50,000 words and I’m only a quarter of a way through, which is a bit worrying. Or would be a bit worrying if I was dead set on trying to have it trade published – one of the beautiful things about self publication is that your book can be as long as you bally well like.
4. I’ve had some wonderful reviews, mostly from people who are complete strangers to me and the rest were lovely surprises – mainly because I find it a bit nerve-wracking when someone I know tells me they are reading one of my novels. I’m genuinely touched when anyone buys one of my books and even more so when they take the time to offer nice feedback. I’ve also had one or two hilariously bad reviews, most notably the one where I was soundly told off because my novel inspired by Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers was clearly um inspired by Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers. God only knows what that reviewer makes of all the Jane Austen sequels and re-imaginings; it probably sends them absolutely stratospherically apoplectic.
5. I gave my books a total re-design and made each one a spanking new cover. I’m rubbish at doing fonts, but I was still really pleased with how they turned out.
6. I got a little mention in The Times for my self publishing ‘success’ thanks to being invited to talk at the first ever Mumsnet Blogfest about my self publishing journey. I really felt like I’d ‘made it’ sitting up there on that stage and it certainly went a long way towards validating my decision not to pursue trade publication.
7. I’ve been in discussions with a local independent publisher about releasing a very limited run of Blood Sisters in paperback at some point next year. This is VERY exciting.
8. I don’t really want to talk about it as it’s an ongoing situation but I’ve discovered that I’m really terrible at writing to order. This is something I really need to work on.
9. I gave up my ‘day job’ as a researcher at the very start of 2012 so that I could concentrate on writing fiction full time. This was TREMENDOUSLY scary but I’m so pleased that I did it now.
10. Despite thinking that I’m doing better than okay, I’ve still had the odd ‘You’re not a proper writer’ and ‘Your books aren’t real books’ jibes, mainly from trade published writers who seem a bit keen to put me in my place. Oh dear. I do wish they’d let the HMRC know that my books aren’t real as then I wouldn’t have to file a tax self assessment every year on my revenue.
11. I haven’t got an agent. I’ve been contacted by a couple but my heart still isn’t really in it – mainly because I don’t want to lose my freedom but also for disgustingly mercenary reasons, namely that I don’t think it would be to my financial advantage to be trade published. I’d quite like the distribution level that trade publishing would mean (as it would mean no more daily snarky emails, comments, tweets and discussions on Amazon demanding to know why my books are only available for Kindle from Amazon) but I’m a bit wary of the rest of it. The other thing is that I’ve only been contacted by agents in the US and I’d really like to represented by someone in the UK so I can swan off to cosy meetings over lunch in London like my other writer chums.
12. Blood Sisters, my original tale of ‘Posh Doom’ really took off over the summer and is now my most popular book. I’ll admit that it isn’t my favourite of my novels but I’m pleased that it’s finding admirers!
1. I hope to finish and publish Bright Star, my novel about Henrietta Anne Stuart. I’d sort of like a trade publisher to pick it up but self publication is by no means my second choice and I probably won’t even bother submitting it.
2. I’m planning to start and hopefully finish the long awaited Jack the Ripper novel as well as another book set during the French Revolution, the Cora Mycroft book and also something set in the sixteenth century which may or may not be about Mary, Queen of Scots.
3. I’m going to carry on having fun with this and hope that my readers will continue to enjoy what I do.