It’s coming up on three years since I published by first indie romance title and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and, I’ll admit it, I’m also feeling proud.
In not-quite-three-years I have had more than ten #1 bestsellers on the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk romance erotica charts. I’ve been in the top fifteen exclusive authors (across all genres) for more than twenty months in the UK and in the top one hundred in the States, on their Amazon stores. I’ve had an iTunes #2 bestseller, #1 on the romance charts. I have signed a multi-book deal with Harlequin Mills & Boon and I’m now heading towards a million digital sales of my indie titles alone.
WOW, that makes my head spin!!
You see, this so nearly didn’t happen. I’ve written for as long as I can remember – I completed and submitted my first romance manuscript at fifteen years of age, but like most writers, I received rejections in those early days (very, very, very wise rejections 😜).
I went to uni, then travelled with my husband, and while living in London above a fish and chip shop that smelled like rancid oil and next door to a pub that sounded like broken beer bottles and bad jazz (yes, such a thing exists, in SW13, trust me), I began to write in earnest. I had an idea for a story and I wanted to get it down and despite working long hours (and factoring in several more for pinot grigio overlooking the Thames) I managed to finish a manuscript.
I tweaked it while pregnant with my son and working full time, and finally submitted it some time after he was born. My husband and I toasted that milestone and I think, naively, I believed that would be ‘it’. That I would get an acceptance and be published. It was 2010, and it would be five years before I self-published and six before Harlequin finally ‘bought’ me.
It didn’t matter.
I was bitten by the bug and all I wanted to do was write.
It’s not easy, you know. I worked in a different job when my little guy was small, and when I had my daughter, I took ‘time off’, but in reality, I had a very demanding little guy on my hands and a daughter who seemed insistent on not-sleeping. Finding time to write was tricky, and making those words GOOD trickier still.
However, I ended up writing a book that I was really, really proud of. THE ITALIAN BILLIONAIRE’S BETRAYAL (yep, it has a different cover now) had everything I loved about sexy romance novels. Deception-from-a-good-place, billionaire alpha, sassy heroine, and a dark moment that won’t quit. Not to mention a very sexy, convincing happily ever after. It sustained a top 100 erotica ranking on the US store for over a month, a top 1000 sales ranking overall. And it was MY book! I don’t even remember now if I submitted it to Harlequin… I must have, because I had a moment of feeling very, very downbeat and like I might quit – surely that followed a rejection.
And here’s where I feel especially nostalgic, grateful and amazed. Because I wanted to quit. I really, really, really wanted to accept that I’d never make anything out of this writing business and let it go. But my sister, a writer (a wonderful writer of all things historical, secretive, mysterious and beautiful) told me she wouldn’t let me quit – that I needed to try self-publishing. My husband had been saying the same thing for many years, and between the two of them, I listened. Finally.
Amazon has this amazing graphing system – you can literally refresh it minute-by-minute and see as people buy your books! I didn’t refresh it a lot initially … but by the end of the month, when I checked, I’d sold a lot of copies. I couldn’t believe it! People were reading MY book! The next month, I had sold even more… Somehow, I’d turned my love for writing into a viable career and it almost seemed to have happened overnight (that kind of overnight that actually lasts a decade).
Three years later, and here I am – a bonafide writer (totally doing a happy dance as I type that).
It’s not any easier to squeeze out the time to write. My kids are still young, and my husband works long hours, but I love what I do –I wake up every day aching to ‘go to work’ and get words down. My stories absorb me. The day they don’t is the day I’ll hang up my typing tips. Until then, I will write, and I will be grateful that I have this opportunity.
If you’re part of this rather magical organisation, THE ROMANCE WRITERS OF AUSTRALIA, I’ll be taking part in a panel on self-publishing at the upcoming conference, and I’ll also be running a round table where I’ll talk about, well, anything my attendees want, actually. Maybe juggling parenthood with writer hood, writing while working full time, not losing faith, seriously, anything!
Also, I’m going to take this opportunity to apologise for any upcoming book-birthday spam. Apparently I’m a typical threenager, driven purely by my Id. 💋 CC.x