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!
The special moments keep on coming! I have just heard that I Am Watching You has been shortlisted for not one but TWO categories in the Dead Good Reader Awards - 'keeps you guessing' and 'most recommended'.
To say I'm thrilled doesn't begin to touch it....
I literally cannot believe it.
Last year I attended the Harrogate Crime Festival as a new girl on the thriller/crime scene. I was so nervous. My first thriller wasn't even out and I wrote a blog here about how I felt out of my comfort zone; as if I was wearing L plates. And now? Just 12 months on, I am returning to this year's Harrogate festival next month, hosting a table at the author dinner (can't wait!) and now also attending the Dead Good Reader Awards. It all feels surreal...
So first and foremost I must thank all my wonderful readers for nominating I Am Watching You for the awards.
And next - a big, big, favour.
Would you take the time, please, to vote again in this final round?
It's just one click in each category this time and it would mean the world.
I have never won an award for anything so thank you from the bottom of this author's heart...
VOTE HERE or click on the picture above.
I have a confession. My first book didn't sell quite as well as we all hoped. At least not at first. The reviews were stunning (thank you, readers) but the numbers were a tad 'quiet'. My second book did much better but still didn't quite get that 'bestseller' tag. It wasn't until my third book and a change of genre that I suddenly became an 'international bestseller'.
Who knew, eh?
I share this now because it is an incredibly special week for me. I have just passed more than half a million sales of my books overall. Which just goes to show that the advice to writers trying for a publishing deal - keep going - also applies once you have a deal!
The greatest thing I have learned from this rollercoaster writer's life is that getting published is not an end in itself...but a beginning. It is not about one book. Or even one genre. Or one publisher. It is about the joy on the page and not being able to stop writing, whatever the sales.
I have loved writing since I was in primary school and feel incredibly blessed that this is now my life. I honestly have no idea why my third book and first thriller I Am Watching You was 'the one' to really kick things off for me - hitting number #1 in three countries. I am just incredibly glad it happened - and that I didn't give up.
The lovely irony for me is that the success of my thrillers has led to a huge boost for my early books which are now enjoying the sales I hoped for in the first place! So this writer's life is a marathon, not a sprint. A book's sales may be strong straight out of the gate...or they be slower to build. I say this to buoy the spirits of any other writer who may be worrying as they build their 'brand'. Sometimes you just have to keep the faith, keep doing the work...and wait.
I celebrated my lovely milestone today with a visit to Agatha Christie's glorious Greenway on the River Dart. The sun shone and the water glistened. Magical - not least because they allowed me to play Agatha's Steinway grand! Wow....very special.
So cheers to everyone who has helped me along the way, especially my lovely readers.
And to all those still dreaming....you really must keep going.
I am over the moon to announce that I have just signed a film deal!
Leading Hindi film studios B4U Motion Pictures have bought the Indian language rights for I Am Watching You.
It's not yet decided where the thriller will be filmed but B4U Motion Pictures have exciting plans for the production in Hindi, saying : ‘We are well poised to create a large reach for this movie which we feel has themes which will resonate across cultures.’
The deal came about after Creative Producer Meenakshi Sharma at B4U fell in love with the story. She said : 'What has attracted us to I Am Watching You is firstly, of course, that it is a thriller with terrific suspense and intrigue – but within that there is characterisation and layering which makes it stand apart. The story deals with the world of teenagers today and the adults grappling with how to respond. It’s the relevance of these themes we would like to translate on screen to find resonance across cultures.’
B4U make a wide range of movies including thrillers and classic drama, distributed to Indian film lovers around the world.
Latest releases include the moving family drama CAKE and the acclaimed Three Storeys.
Huge thanks to Hayley Steed at the Madeleine Milburn Agency for negotiating this deal. And crossed fingers that the next announcement is for an English language film deal too! Exciting times...
I'm pinching myself here as I share a very special moment.
I've just heard that we've sold more than 250,000 copies of I Am Watching You in less than 6 months. This is simply HUGE for me; something I never expected to happen.
Regulars to my blog will know that it took me ten years to get my first book deal. Before that, I wrote four novels that were 'near misses' with publishers; a long and often tricky apprenticeship before I finally got 'the call'. I then published two women's fiction titles that sold in six languages. But it wasn't until I published this first psychological suspense novel that things took off in a way I could never have foreseen.
When I wrote I Am Watching You, I did the same thing I do every time I sit at my writing desk; I simply wrote the best book I could. Did I know it would become this big bestseller? No, I didn't. I hoped, of course. I dreamed. But it still feels surreal to me that all this has happened.
So I need to share what a privilege this feels when all the stars align; and to repeat my thanks to my publisher Thomas & Mercer, to my agent Madeleine Milburn and to all the wonderful readers who have bought the book, reviewed it...and so kindly recommended it to others. This simply would not have happened without you.
The other special thing going on right now is...globetrotting! We have sold I Am Watching You for translation to seven countries so far and it's just making an appearance in Italian bookshops right now. Some kind bloggers and readers have been sharing photographs of my novel 'in the wild' and this makes me more excited and proud than you can imagine. So if you spot my book over the coming weeks and months anywhere in the world, do please tag me in your photographs on social media. It makes those ten long and difficult years of rejection all worthwhile.
The first reviews are coming in for my second psychological thriller THE FRIEND and I mean it when I tell you - this never gets old!
This is my fourth published book - my second in this new genre - and I should be getting used to this. But the truth? I learn that the excitement and the nerves, launching a new book into the world, simply never change.
It just feels such a huge privilege to have people reading your work. So my thanks again to the many, many readers who have been kind enough to get in touch with feedback on my debut thriller I AM WATCHING YOU. It means so much to hear from you - and I really hope you will like the second book too. (THE FRIEND is out on March 22 but is going out to bloggers and reviewers right now - hence the excitement of early feedback!)
Meantime, I have bubbles on standby (for the end of dry January!) to toast so much great news in my writing life. Followers on social media may already know that sales of I AM WATCHING YOU have now passed 200,000 and my fabulous publisher Thomas & Mercer has now signed me for two more psychological thrillers. I could not be more excited about this and huge thanks go to my agent Madeleine Milburn and her team and to my editor Jack Butler and the whole fabulous gang at Thomas & Mercer.
I feel one very lucky writer just now. So here's wishing you a wonderful weekend and all good things in your own writing and reading world.
Turns out, dreams do come true...
TV and radio interviews, talks and literary festivals! It's a lot of fun suddenly having a bestseller - so here's a slideshow of recent highlights with thanks to my wonderful publisher Thomas & Mercer, my supersonic agent Madeleine Milburn and her team, my family and friends and all my fabulous readers. Feeling very blessed right now!
Wow, what a busy time! Just a quick note to share the cover of my second psychological suspense. Do hope you like the design as much as I do. Have been longing to show this one off as I love the colours. It's out in March 2018 but is available for pre-order now. We're sharing this week as lots of lovely readers who've enjoyed I Am Watching You have been in touch asking about the next book.
OK; deep breath, Teresa. I write this blog while there is still adrenaline pumping through my system from the most incredible rollercoaster in my writing career.
I want to tell you about it absolutely honestly while it is all fresh and crazy still...but hopefully without sounding like this is just self-promotion blah blah.
Check out my previous blog and you will see that a blink ago, I was desperately nervous about how my debut psychological suspense would be received. (Genuine angst, I promise you; authors always worry how a new book will be received - especially in a new genre.)
Now? I have seen that book hit number ONE on Kindle in the U.K., USA and Australia with fabulous reviews flooding in (thank you, readers)...and I still can't take it in.
As I write, it's still number ONE, day six in the UK, with hundreds of 5-stars worldwide already. Quite simply surreal. As I say in the headline; all my dreams suddenly coming true.
So for grounding and encouragement to others, I have deliberately posted my 'tall story' picture of where it all began for me -manuscripts which I wrote, revised and sent out over ten long years before I got my first deal! Yes; I really did start all this before agents were accepting email submissions!! It cost me a fiver every time I updated a script and sent it out again.
I share this picture because my mantra through that very difficult decade was always to just 'keep going' and I really want to repeat that now to anyone who is struggling with rejection.
I had a lot of near misses with my early attempts. I made it to several acquisition meetings...but time after time I fell at that final hurdle.
I have always written in two genres - emotional women's fiction and psychological suspense - and at first this was a problem. Some editors said...go darker. Others said no...go warmer. (I even made the mistake at one point of writing one book which combined both genres; you should have seen the finger wagging!)
In the end I separated my two voices and managed to get book deals for both genres. First my women's fiction sold in six languages. That went brilliantly and my second book made it to #111 in the Kindle chart. So then I set myself a new goal. To somehow make it onto the bestseller listings.
And now in my new genre of psych suspense....well; as you see - it's going OK!!!
So the lesson I want to share?
Keep the faith. Believe in yourself but be prepared to work hard to get better and better. No writing is ever wasted. The 'Apprenticeship' pays off.
Find your unique voice...make it strong and use it well.
Learn how to pitch.
Be open to editing. (All my books have been strengthened thanks to working with terrific editors.)
Most important? Let yourself mourn each rejection but then pick yourself up and get back to that keyboard.
I remember vividly sitting on the floor crying when an early book so nearly sold to a major publisher, then I got the dreaded call....to say 'not quite'.
In short, just keep going, lovely people.
Care. Dare. Do it for yourself, do it for the dream but, above all, do it for the love of the words on the page....
I have just had a very funny car ride conversation with the husband which any other author will definitely understand. He’s lovely, my husband, very proud of me and super excited about my first psych thriller I AM WATCHING YOU which is released very soon.
Me? I’m ridiculously nervous to the point of embarrassment…
Don’t get me wrong. I’m also excited and very proud of this book, too. My publisher, agent, editors and early readers have all loved it, but there is something weird in the psyche of the writer just before a new book is launched which turns us into mad people who suddenly panic at the thought of so many people reading our work…
‘But that’s why you write,’ my husband protests in the car – his expression all bafflement. ‘So that people will read your books.’
I know, I know. And I realise I sound insane; it’s a privilege and a joy to be an author. I worked for years and years to get here and I love it more than I can possibly say. So why the bonkers self-doubt and the (maybe just a little bit irritating?) attack of eleventh-hour nerves?
I don’t know! I can only liken it to stage fright. The actor or actress loves what they do; they want to walk on stage and wow the world. They want to get better and better at their craft so that they win the next role…and the one after that, too.
But they also get this uncontrollable surge of adrenalin and giant butterflies deep in their stomach just before they step out on stage.
That’s where I’m at, lovely people…in the land of the giant butterflies!
So if you happen to read and enjoy my new book, I will seriously love you forever if you will be kind enough to leave a review to steady my nerves.
And if you are a new writer, wondering if it is normal to worry if your work will hit the spot? Please know that – yes; last-minute nerves and bonkers behaviour is entirely normal. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the book or with you, apparently.
It’s just something that happens. Every… single… time, alas.
Wish me luck!
Teresa Driscoll - journalist, author, mother of two and lover of great coffee.