Ever wondered how I write my books? What I've learned over the years I've been published?
I've just had a lovely chat with author Will Shindler for his fab The Writer's Workshop podcast, discussing the ups and downs of the writer's life and sharing lots of tips.
Hope it will be helpful (- and the podcast has lots of other author interviews so you may want to check those out too).
I know, I know. It's an off-the-scale 'pinch me' moment. I vividly recall posting when I hit a million sales and being humbled and overwhelmed because I couldn't even picture a million people. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I'd double that achievement!
This new figure is for sales of all my books to date - my four thrillers with Thomas & Mercer (an imprint of Amazon Publishing), my first two book-club reads with Bookouture and my foreign editions across more than 20 territories.
It's been a real roller coaster ride, that's for sure, since my first book Recipes for Melissa was published in 2015. Along the way, I've changed genre to psychological thrillers and had the wild experience of a 'breakout' book in I Am Watching You. I wrote that first thriller out of contract, pretty much as a last throw of the dice (when the sales of my first two books were initially a little quiet). I genuinely had no idea how well the book would do, not just in English but across the world in translation.
It taught me that the author's life is never about one book or one edit; it's very much a long game. And I hope it will be reassuring to other writers to never give up believing, wherever you are on your writing journey.
For me today is mostly about counting my blessings. And saying thank you.
First - a massive thank you to all my publishers across the globe, especially Thomas & Mercer/ Amazon Publishing who've helped me sell a million copies of I Am Watching You in English alone! I want to thank all the patient editors who've believed in me and helped me through inevitable 'hiccups' along the way - you know who you are - and an extra big thank you to my wonderful agent Madeleine Milburn and her superb and very dynamic team.
And of course, most important of all, hero-grams go to you - my lovely readers. Word of mouth played a big part in the success of I Am Watching You and so many of you have kindly continued to recommend my writing to others. I would be nowhere without you and am grateful for every single message and every single review.
You really are the best!
I sign off with something cold in the fridge, ready for a celebration this evening. I'm going to be doing a Facebook Live at 8pm UK time (this evening Tuesday May 18th) to say thank you and to give away some prizes so do pop by on my Facebook Author page for that HERE. Anyone who asks a question (in advance or live) or comments during the live will be in with a chance!
Meantime, it's back to work. I've started writing a brand new thriller while also making plans to launch Her Perfect Family this Autumn.
Turns out my author life has evolved from that long and tricky winding road to one very delicious rolling road ...
Not long now until I join this fabulous line up for the Capital Crime festival. Very exciting!
I can hardly believe it but four years ago TODAY I became a published author at last...after more than ten years of rejection.
My first book - sold in six languages - was the contemporary domestic drama RECIPES FOR MELISSA which tells the story of a mother's belated goodbye to her daughter via a special book of recipes and letters.
It was a book written from the heart - for I lost my own mother to cancer as a teenager.
The picture here is very, very special to me; it's of a school reunion with boarding school friends who baked some of the biscuit recipes from the book to help me celebrate. I was so touched, I almost cried! My dear friends knew all about my long and difficult struggle to get published and their support meant so much to me.
Of course a great deal has happened since. I've changed genres - now writing psychological thrillers. And incredibly, I've now sold more than a million books!
But I feel very humble today, thinking back to that incredible sense of joy and disbelief when my very first paperback arrived in the post and I realised that I had finally done it. I had become A PROPER AUTHOR.
So today for me is not just about celebration. It is about remembering that long struggle to find a book deal. And it is most of all about my lovely family and friends who never stopped believing in me....despite all those rejections!
I am very proud of all that I have achieved as a writer. Success is wonderful and I am grateful to each and every reader. But I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the family and friends I have been lucky to share this roller-coaster journey with.
So a big THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all those who were my early cheerleaders and who never stopped believing. Those biscuits - and the love and friendship that baked them - gave me a memory I will always treasure.
This is such a big moment for me, I feel more than a little tearful as I write.
My publisher Thomas & Mercer has just confirmed that in less than two years, I’ve sold A MILLION copies of my thrillers I Am Watching You, The Friend and The Promise.
To say I’m stunned is an understatement. I can’t even picture a million people. A million moments in which someone was reading (or listening to?) my work? Seriously – I used to read the tagline ‘million copy bestselling author’ and felt utterly in awe; it seemed such an impossible achievement. And now – pinch me - that’s me!
It took me a long time to get published so this feels like a good time to look back, to reflect and to count my blessings. There are many people I need to thank here – my publisher Thomas & Mercer, my fabulous agent Madeleine Milburn and her team for starters – but especially I want to thank my family for seeing me through the ten years when I was struggling to get that first book deal. Rejection was so very hard back in those early days. There were long hours late in the evening at my computer; and, oh my word, there were definitely tears over the 'near misses' and disappointments. Also there were moments when I felt ridiculous, having to admit to people that I had written unpublished book after unpublished book…
But strangely it never seriously occurred to me to give up. How could I? It was my dream from childhood to be a published author. It was so much tougher than I ever imagined but I was getting better and learning important lessons with every passing year and every manuscript.
Then there were major changes at my first literary agency so I left. I wrote a new book in 2014 and queried from scratch. It was all a bit scary but I had several new offers of representation (phew!). I signed with the wonderful agent Madeleine Milburn and my world changed; my two contemporary dramas Recipes for Melissa and Last Kiss Goodnight were published in six languages and beautifully reviewed. The dream had come true! But guess what? I learned that getting published is a beginning and not an end. The rollercoaster was still in motion; there was more hard work ahead, more difficult decisions and more excitement too. For it was only when I switched to psychological thrillers that everything truly took off in a way I could never have foreseen.
The publication of I Am Watching You, my first thriller, was the turning point. It somehow struck a chord with readers around the world and now has over 30,000 5-star reviews on GoodReads. Extraordinary!!
Hence my final, special thanks here goes to all you fabulous and generous readers who have championed my books – recommending me to your family and friends. I owe you so much.
As I mentioned earlier, I have wanted to write fiction since I was a bookworm in primary school. I still sit alone in the silence of my office every day, astonished that my childhood dream has come true.
So thank you, readers, from the bottom of this very grateful author’s heart for helping me to live the life I love.
An update here on the blog is long overdue and I have so much news. Such a lovely, busy and buzzy time lately!
First I am not long back from an exciting trip to Barcelona to launch I Am Watching You in translation there. My lovely Spanish publisher Principal de los Libros arranged a whistle-stop visit to meet lots of journalists. There were fascinating questions about the book and we were thrilled to land a feature in the national newspaper La Vangardia as well as a slot on national radio. Very exciting... (even if my rather ghostly photograph scared even me!)
And then, pretty much as soon as I had unpacked, I was packing all over again for the London Book Fair. I used to see this event as industry-only – for agents and publishers. I would say it’s still primarily for business to business meetings. But in recent years, an author HQ has been set up so it’s now good to pop by to listen to some of the panel sessions and also to meet author friends. Plus my publisher Thomas & Mercer holds a wonderful author party during the fair – and that’s definitely not to be missed!
Highlights for me this year included coffee (and an especially delicious chocolate brownie) with my editor – plus seeing a video of myself on my publisher’s stand. All the more hilarious as I was wearing the same (favourite!) red jacket for my LBF visit 😉. I also caught up with my lovely agent Madeleine Milburn and her fab team at my publisher party so that was a special bonus.
And now it’s back to work. Very soon I’ll be doing the copy edit on my fourth psychological thriller which is out early in October.
Which reminds me to say a big thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to review my third thriller The Promise. I’m so very pleased readers are enjoying it. And it was such a thrill to see it featured on the LBF stand - and also on the carousel at the publisher party.
I’ll be sharing more news on the fourth thriller soon. My editor tells me the cover is being designed so I’m itching to see the ideas they come up with!
Warmest wishes to you all…and happy reading.
Just when I think things cannot possibly get more exciting.....they DO! As I write, my second psychological thriller THE FRIEND is number one in the whole Kindle chart in the UK.
This is simply incredible - my second UK number one.
I can share now that this is particularly special to me as I was very nervous when I published this book. I Am Watching You - my first psychological thriller - did so well that I felt a lot of pressure over The Friend. I want each of my books to be different in terms of structure and surprise...but I also want my readers to feel the familiarity of my 'voice' as a writer. It's a tricky balance to get right - delivering a very different book in the same genre.
So I am just thrilled with the hundreds of five-star reviews for The Friend and this new high as it hits the top of the charts.
Thank you, readers. I am so grateful for all your lovely messages. I would be nowhere without you!
This is a very special day.
My dear readers and writer friends,
What a long way we have all travelled together here! I can hardly believe that I've been writing this blog since October 2012! Yes…six years, sharing all the ups and downs on my long journey to becoming an author. So I thought – especially for the benefit of writers still yearning for a book deal – that I would mark the New Year by looking back over some of the key blogs that I hope you will find useful.
Getting started. Hello social media…..and thank you Google and Youtube!
Back in 2012, I had already been trying to get published for some years. I had a literary agent...but no book deal. There were several rejected manuscripts stashed under the bed. To be frank, I was a bit fed up but no way was I prepared to give up. So I decided to start blogging to share how I was feeling. My first blog HERE was about the hiccups of setting up this very website with limited technical ability. I used google… and watched a lot of You tube videos to work things out as I went along. So you don’t need to be an absolute whizz to get started with blogging and social media as a writer - just prepared to experiment and learn as you go. I have always tried to be very open and honest while blogging – even when feeling low about my writing life. My top advice for social media and book marketing is – just be yourself. After all, who else would you want to be?!!
How to write short stories that SELL
While trying to get a book deal, I wrote a lot of short stories for magazines – a very welcome income stream as a freelance and a great place to experiment too. This 2012 blog sums up what I learned about the short story market – with tips on how to get your stories accepted.
The TURNING POINT in my writing life
So the rest of 2012 passed with more rejections for my novels, sadly. Boohoo! And then in October 2013, I had this lightbulb moment. I changed the way I wrote, after reading some advice from Stephen King. This blog explains how I learned to write in forward gear ..and how EVERYTHING suddenly fell into place for me, in terms of first draft momentum.
Signing with a NEW AGENT!
By July 2014, I had edited my new manuscript and found myself a NEW AGENT. Here’s the blog which explained how I handled querying for the second time. Daunting…but very exciting too.
Writer on tour!
In the autumn of 2014, I toured Devon libraries with my short story workshop…and what a time I had! It was so wonderful to share tips and enjoy the company of other writers. Here’s a blog after my stop at Exeter Library. Such fun!
A book deal AT LAST!!
And then….oh wow – the blog announcing that I was finally to become a published author. This one still gives me goosebumps…
First book is OUT!
…followed, of course, by the blog I feared I might NEVER actually write - celebrating publication week. I was still pinching myself…
A change of genre….The tall story of how I finally wrote a BESTSELLER!
And now we fast forward (through book two and being published abroad – hurrah!) to my change of genre….from writing women’s fiction to writing psychological suspense. THIS BLOG explains why and how that happened and how my whole career was riding on how the genre switch was received by readers. I still remember how incredibly nervous I was…and then how blown away I felt when I hit number #1 on Kindle in the UK, the USA and Australia. It was surreal.
Why publishing is a marathon not a sprint…..keep going!!
This blog - to celebrate half a million books sold - sums up why an author’s career is never about one book. Or one genre. Or even one publisher. Getting published is just the beginning. Staying published brings a whole host of new challenges – and you NEVER stop learning…
Bring on 2019
And now we are up to date – which means it is time for me to once again thank you all for sharing so much with me over the years. Thank you to the wonderful readers who are kind enough to message me when you enjoy my books. And here's wishing the best of luck to all those still working hard for that first book deal. I really do know exactly how you feel.
Happy New Year, one and all!! May it be a special one for you and yours.
Today is an incredibly special anniversary.
A year ago today my first psychological thriller I am Watching You was published as part of a special Kindle First launch. I cannot begin to tell you how much was riding on this book!
The truth? It took me more than ten years to get published but my first two women’s fiction titles – though beautifully reviewed and sold in six languages – had not yet made any bestseller lists...
Everything was riding on this genre switch. Would it work out? Would I finally get a little orange ‘bestseller’ sticker on Amazon?
Oh boy. Within hours I Am Watching You was rocketing up the charts. Stunning reviews began to pour in. Within 24 hours, the book was Kindle #1 in the UK, USA and Australia. It was all rather surreal… in the best possible way.
As I type today, the book has sold more than 470,000 copies, has been optioned for film and has deals for translation in 15 territories. It is literally unbelievable. As a freelance, I do not exaggerate when I say it has changed my life…
So thank you, readers, from the bottom of this author’s heart for buying, reviewing and recommending this book to your friends.
Thank you to my fabulous agent Madeleine Miburn for always believing in me.
Thank you to my publisher Thomas & Mercer for making all my author dreams come true.
And thank you to my wonderful family for putting up with all my panics.
There may be some 'birthday' bubbles!
Teresa Driscoll - journalist, author, mother of two and lover of great coffee.