One year ago today, The Secret to Happiness was published. Happy book-birthday to me! It’s an exceptionally special book-birthday because this was the first of my books released by my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books. It was the book that secured me my publishing deal.
Originally titled Wish I Could Tell You Goodbye, it tells the story of three women – Alison, Danniella and Karen – who are struggling to let go of something/someone from their past. They all meet at a beach-based bootcamp run by Karen and it explores whether the power of friendship can give the women the strength to move on and find the happiness they deserve.
It’s an emotional but uplifting story which I love and I was sure that, after several years as an indie writer, it would secure me a publishing deal. It didn’t at first. When Boldwood opened for submissions, it had been rejected by five different publishers. Five rejections is not a lot in the grand scheme of things but I took each one to heart and was crushed by them. Because I’d already released nine books, originally with a publisher and then via an independent route – all with great feedback – I started to seriously doubt myself. I wondered if I’d tried to be too clever writing about three women instead of just having one protagonist (like in all my books except Bear With Me which has two). I wondered whether I’d lost my writing mojo.
But this is a positive post and I want to focus on the amazing things that have happened since what became The Secret to Happiness found its home at Boldwood. I have pasted my rejection feedback at the end if anyone is curious. For authors, this may give the encouragement to keep going as, what one editor passes on, another may feel passionate about.
Thankfully, Boldwood thought differently to the other five publishers and offered me a 9-book deal for this book plus another three new ones, and five novels from my back catalogue! Wow!
And I couldn’t be happier. I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. I believe I was always destined to join Boldwood so I’m grateful for those rejections because they meant I could find my true home.
What has The Secret to Happiness done for me?
- Over 9k paperbacks in branches of The Works around the UK
- Sold nearly 500 audio copies*
- Sold nearly 15k eBooks*
- #122 in the UK Kindle Chart
- #9 on the Canada Kindle Chart
- #20 on the Australia Kindle Chart
- #35 on the overall AppleBooks Chart and #10 on the Romance Chart
- Secured 123 ratings/reviews on Amazon UK, 92% of which are 4 or 5-star
- Secured 43 ratings on AppleBooks UK, all of which are 4 or 5-star
* Up until end June 2020
This book took a struggling indie writer and turned her into an international bestselling author! Eek! Still can’t quite believe that!
I cannot thank my amazing editor, Nia Beynon, enough for believing in this book and helping shape and polish it ready for publication. And thank you to the team at Boldwood Books and the fabulously talented authors there who’ve supported and promoted my work.
If you haven’t yet read it, now’s your chance as it has been selected for Kindle UK’s September Monthly Deal and is 99p for the whole of the month. Kobo and AppleBooks also have it for 99p.
If you prefer paperbacks, The Works sold out really quickly online but you may still be able to find a copy in your local branch. Alternatively paperbacks can be ordered via Amazon. Or you could win a copy!
Yes, to celebrate The Secret to Happiness’s 1st book-birthday, I’m giving away THREE signed copies. There’ll be one book given away in a competition on Facebook, one on Instagram and one on Twitter. I’ll share details from my various social media accounts but they’ll appear first on Boldwood’s social media. You can find them as:
- Book & Tonic on Facebook and Instagram
- @BoldwoodBooks on Twitter
So watch out for news of how to win!
In the meantime, have an amazing week/weekend and thank you once more to everyone who has discovered The Secret to Happiness or is about to discover it!
And, as promised, here’s the rejections…
“Concept intriguing and writing engaging [but] not suitable for our list.”
“Created a great ensemble cast .. setting well delineated … [but the] concept wasn’t quite ‘hooky’ enough to stand out in a very crowded market.”
“While the premise is fun and engaging and original, we just feel the bootcamp idea is not quite right for us at this time. I do think it’s very well written, however, so please don’t let this stop you – you just need a cracking idea and you’ll be on your way.”
“I absolutely loved diving into the world you’ve conjured here … [but] as the story went on I struggled to empathise with the characters as much as I wanted to. Rather than being invested in their journeys I felt they lacked the necessary depth and layers, I wanted to see more of their emotions and feelings on the page. In such a competitive book market we have to ensure we feel passionate about the book and characters and sadly I just couldn’t find myself getting lost in Alison or Karen’s story as I couldn’t connect with them. In terms of next step I recommend looking at how you can weave more depth into the characters, offering readers different layers to uncover from them all.”
“Your writing is great, and there is huge warmth and emotion in your narrative. All of the women’s stories are hugely poignant, but because there were three of them, it felt at times like there wasn’t quite enough space for each story, including the tragic events before the book begins, to be fully explored. The women’s fiction market is so tricky at the moment, and what we tend to be looking for at the moment are in-depth emotional stories with a tight scope, or high-concept stories that can be pitched in a single line. I’m afraid that Wish I Could Tell You Goodbye didn’t quite hit the mark for me.”