From one Cottage to another - the journey of a hybrid author.

Back in 2017 after messing about with a story for fifteen years (novel, then screenplay, then novel), I dived into the world of indie publishing with The Stationmaster's Cottage. It was a standalone romantic women's fiction book set now and in the 1960s. I had no idea what I was doing but knew indie was a good fit. My son did the formatting and helped me set up accounts with the major retailers and upload the ebook and then paperback. I was so lucky to stumble across an amazing cover designer. And it resonated - particularly with readers in the US who were charmed to visit Rivers End along the Great Ocean Road.

Before long I was getting emails asking for the next in the series. There was no next. Cottage is a complete story in one book. But I gave it a lot of thought, found a couple of threads I could tease out, and got writing. What started as one became a series of four books and two shorts. That series continues to sell constantly and with little promotion. Podium Audio acquired audiobook rights a few years ago which gave me a taste of working with a good publisher and I realised that having a more diverse stream of income was a wise way forward. At that point I was working in a day job and writing and the aim was to move to full time in the latter.

In 2020 I poured myself into books and burnt out. I wrote a series of five small town mysteries as well as a standalone crime suspense and a few shorts and by the time 2021 rolled around, I was exhausted. The mystery series was doing well but I’d lost heart and made a big mistake by accepting a contract for it with a publisher. Despite due diligence with the contract and speaking to a dozen or so of their authors, it was a poor experience. The final straw was being asked in 2022 if I would defer royalties for four months. By this time I was writing full time and asked for my rights back, based upon clauses in the contract. The publisher arced up and tried to hold onto the series for many years beyond the exit clause, and it was only by engaging the services of an outstanding IP attorney that things got moving.

One would think that experience was enough to put me off traditional publishing, but something very interesting happened at the end of last year.  I’d written a new crime suspense and for some reason had sent it to Storm Publishing, who were brand new but had an impressive team. Although that book wasn’t for them, I was asked if I’d be interested in writing a new series along the lines of my first one. This did appeal as I’d been hoping to return to Rivers End at some point. Over the Christmas to New Year break I wrote a few chapters and fell back in love with the town which had launched my career. By the end of January I’d agreed to write a three book women’s fiction series for Storm.

This experience is wonderful. My editor is a dream to work with and the entire team are a joy. I was given input into the title, cover, and audiobook narrator and couldn’t be happier. The title, The Cottage at Whisper Lake, is like coming full circle. It released on 25 September. Book two is in final edits and book three is underway.

It is six and half years since my first book published. In the interim I’ve published almost 30 titles – a mix of novels, novellas, and shorts. My diversified income is keeping me writing because eggs in one basket isn’t my approach. I use KU on and off but am predominantly wide with direct accounts where possible. Several of my books are in audio (apart from the Podium ones) which I’ve paid for and selected narrators (including Aussie TV icon John Wood). Most recently I’ve opened a Shopify store for direct sales. And now Storm is in the mix.

Being able to write for a living is a dream come true. Occasionally more like a nightmare when things don’t go to plan or characters refuse to co-operate, but overall I am happy. I’ve been so fortunate to have had author-mentors as well as now surrounding myself with an amazing team including cover designers and editors. And mostly, I’m truly blessed with readers who love visiting my many worlds.

 

From one Cottage to another - the journey of a hybrid author.
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