I tried to get traditionally published as a writer for a long time. A loooooooong time. I make it fifteen years and counting….
I’ve also been writing for as long as I can really remember. I wrote my first story, The Blue Ruby, when I was about seven. Throughout college and university, I experimented with screenplays and scripts (I was studying Film and English at the time at the University of East Anglia), as well as other more short stories. In my twenties, I started my first novel, finished it, then my second, then my third. In my thirties, I was slightly side-tracked by the birth of my son but, leaving aside that trifling distraction, managed to write my fourth..
I didn’t bother trying to get the first novel published as I saw it as more of a practise run at this business of being an author. With the second, I entered the 2004 Lit Idol competition and got to third place. That was my ticket to publication, I thought, surely? Hah! Just the first in a long line of disappointments, of which every writer must be familiar… hopes built up to then be smacked down again. I had an agent approach me after the competition and on their encouragement, I finished, edited and polished the manuscript, sent it off to them with happy hopes – to be told months later that they didn’t think it was quite right for them..
Gutted, but enthusiasm relatively undimmed, I started on a new novel, inspired in part by the dramatic events of 2005 – the London bombings. I also wrote a short story at the same time on the same subject – it was on my mind a lot that summer (unsurprisingly. Freedom Fighter is the story – available on Amazon as part of A Blessing From The Obeah Man short story collection). This novel The House on Fever Street was shortlisted for the 2006 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. Aha, I thought, a fairly prestigious and industry recognised award. This will get me published. Did it? Did it buggery!
The House on Fever Street was also longlisted in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award of that year, which garnered me some nice reviews and a much needed ego boost but didn’t advance my career as a published author much further..
So what next for our doughty heroine? She ups and writes her fourth novel, gains an agent and thinks now, now I have finally made it as a published author! And she waits. And waits. And waits some more. And then waits a bit more. And a bit more. Finally, for variety, she waits a bit more..
So, after two years of waiting, reading about self-publishing on Amazon and other platforms, I believe a phrase that ends in ‘…for a game of soldiers’ passed my lips and I decide to publish myself. So I did. I think I made about £10 in my first month of publishing. Fast forward three years and here I am, a full time indie author, a Top 100 UK Amazon bestseller, having reached half a million readers. Couldn’t be happier!