It is my great pleasure to welcome my fellow author at SpellBound Books, Jane Cullen, to the blog today. Jane has agreed to share her journey from self-publishing to being published by one of the most dynamic independent publishing house in the UK, Thank you for your time today, Jane.
Thank you for hosting me on your blog today, Val. I actually finished my first novel, Say That Again, in 2016. I had wanted to be a writer since childhood but life got in the way. I was a very busy exercise teacher working for a large leisure company and enjoying it immensely. So I wrote in the little spare time I had. All that changed when I semi-retired to care for my elderly, disabled mum. While she dozed, I sat in the next room and began my first novel.
I chose a difficult subject, a romantic comedy about a man newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s! I had taught people with Parkinson’s for years and I loved them so I decided to raise money and awareness by writing my book. I sent it off to a few agents but kept reading the words, ‘The subject matter isn’t a popular one.’
So I decided to self-publish. I wasn’t going to write a 600 page novel and not get it out there, so I did some research and luckily, my tech-savvy brother uploaded it to Amazon for me. I advertised it on social media and something wonderful happened. The Parkinson’s community embraced my novel and it sold all over the world. I travelled the length of the country promoting it and was even asked to adapt it into a play which was performed twice in Rochester in 2019 at a venue Dickens frequented.
All this was wonderful and exciting and I devoured every 5 star review but it was also quite a lonely experience. I didn’t feel part of any group of writers. I didn’t feel that any expert had looked at my work and loved it enough to take it on either.
I then began my second novel. I wanted to write in depth about a family who had been affected greatly by their father making one bad decision, with a slow burn romance and a mystery at the heart of it. I lost my mum half way through writing it and so the urge to self-publish and work hard to promote it was lost as I navigated my way through grief.
The pandemic arrived and it was an opportunity to begin writing a story that had been in my head for fifteen years. The characters, Amy Lee and Bear Flynn had been whispering to me for a long time and when they ended up shouting in my ear I couldn’t ignore them anymore. When I had finished A Secret Sky, the second lockdown gave me the opportunity to begin researching publishers and agents.
I really wanted an indie publisher, one who would get to know me personally. To be honest, I wanted them to be kind and to care about how I felt about the cover and the editing of my work. Spellbound Books picked up A Secret Sky and they have been everything I hoped for, always answering emails, patient and understanding of a newbie.
The difference, for me, has been the support, feeling part of a group of authors, validation that yes, these people are experts and they love my novel. Luckily they loved my long second novel too and asked me to adapt it into a trilogy which I have done. The excitement is overwhelming. With self-publishing I felt quite alone but I now feel part of a large, happy family with my publisher and their authors.
Jane Cullen is an English author from South East London. Her novels, Say That Again, and Looking For You, which are both available from Amazon or directly from the author at www.janemcullen.com.