Two books in the UK Kindle Top 100 at the same time. Woo hoo!

I’m very tired this morning. Actually, I’m tired most mornings but I was super-duper extra tired this morning because I’d been up at various points in the night checking chart positions. I assure you I’m not normally that committed – or perhaps I should say obsessed – but New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow was on a BookBub promotion in the UK, Australia and Canada yesterday/overnight which is always exciting as it can mean high positions.

What is BookBub? Avid readers can sign up to it for free in exchange for details of book promotions. You choose the genres you’re interested in reading, your favourite authors, and whether you like ebooks, audio or both. Every day at around 3pm GMT, BookBub email a newsletter to their subscribers with details of a small number of promotions based on the selections they’ve made. For an author/publisher to secure a BookBub deal, a book must be on offer – I think it has to be at least half price – or free. It’s a great way for readers to keep on top of bargains.

BookBub’s subscriber database is ginormous and having a BookBub promo usually has a significant impact on chart positions. Even though the Kindle charts are meant to be updated hourly, this isn’t always the case and there’s often a lag. There is also a time difference across the regions so the greatest chart impact can often be in the UK’s early hours, hence my nocturnal activities last night!

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow was already close to the Kindle Top 100 in the UK before the newsletter came out so I was pretty sure it would make it inside the Top 100 but wasn’t sure how far. Those hedgehogs scampered up to #77.

All my previous BookBub promos have resulted in higher chart positions in Australia and Canada than the UK so I was particularly excited to see how high New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow would reach in those regions. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow had made it to #40 in Canada and #20 in Australia when it was on a BookBub last October but The Secret to Happiness and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe had made it even higher in both regions. How would the second hedgehog outing fare?

This time, the hedgehogs didn’t perform quite as well in Canada with a peak of only #263 late last night. It’s still a great chart position and something that, 18 months ago, I never dreamed I’d ever achieve but it’s significantly lower than the other four promos I’ve had (Making Wishes at Bay View was also in a BookBub last year and, although it didn’t get as high as the other three, it still made it into the Top 100). I don’t know why New Arrivals didn’t do as well as my other books and I could go into circles speculating so I’ll celebrate the Top 300 position instead and be very happy with that.

It was also a lower chart position in Australia than the previous four but the hedgehogs did still crack into the Top 100 with a peak of #67 late this morning in Australia meaning all five of my Aus BookBubs made it into the Top 100. Thank you Australia!

So a very valiant attempt by the hedgehogs and I’m very proud of their performance. But what is even better is ticking off yet another goal that wasn’t even a goal: two books in the UK Top 100 at the same time!

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) is currently in Prime Reading and was already in the Top 100 but it was so lovely to see New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (book 2) joining it. I managed to capture them at #58 and #77 respectively. They’ve both dropped a few places now although, at the time of writing this, they’re still both in the Top 100. They both remain on promotion in the UK at only 99p and will stay that way for a limited time, with Finding Love still being in Prime Reading for another couple of months. New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow will remain on offer in Canada and Australia for a short while too.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped both Hedgehog Hollow books to get into the Top 100 at the same time. Yesterday, my amazing publisher Boldwood Books announced a new record for their authors with a whopping eight titles in the Top 100. New Arrivals joining them today made a new record of nine. Massive congratulations to Shari Low, Rosie Clarke, Gemma Rogers, Judy Leigh, Louise Douglas and Portia MacIntosh – writing across a variety of genres – for their Top 100 success. Go Team Boldwood!

And, to help the celebrations, it’s amazing to see six of my books with bestseller tags today in the UK, including the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – which is still only on pre-order but storming the charts. Thank you so much to everyone who has pre-ordered it.

Wishing you all the best for a great end to the week and a relaxing weekend.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

What an amazing way to end 2020!

Anyone who listened to my Facebook Live ‘in conversation’ last night will have heard the amazing news from my editor, Nia, that I’d just had confirmed earlier in the day.

The figures were in for December’s sales and my books have surpassed 250,000 units sold. That’s quarter of a million! I know you can work that out for yourself but I kind of need to write it down for myself as I can’t quite believe it! Eek!

This is a figure I never dreamed was possible in my days as a struggling indie author when an amazing week would be shifting more than ten copies.

Units mean a sale in any format – eBook purchase, paperback sale, audio, borrow etc. – once released by Boldwood Books so doesn’t include any sales under previous indie titles and, as it is up until the end of December 2020, doesn’t include my latest release – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow.

The figure does include ‘sales’ when books were on free promotions which both Making Wishes at Bay View and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes were at some point last year. But even so!

Thank you so very, very much to anyone who has discovered my stories and helped make this happen. I could not be more thrilled.

Wishing you a lovely weekend.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Starry Skies has reached for the skies

It’s the first Monday in January 2021 and, for many, the return to work after a Christmas break. With a writing deadline for later this week, I returned to my desk on Saturday so I’m very disorientated about what day of the week it is! And school is back tomorrow, initially from home, which will throw me even more.

This is just a quickie as Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café has followed in the trail blazed by Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and has just passed a whopping 1,000 reviews/ratings on the UK Kindle chart. It still has an orange #1 Best Seller Tag and I’m so delighted that 92% of the reviews are positive (4 or 5 star).

If you’ve read and reviewed or rated this book, I cannot thank you enough. It’s such a thrill to know that Tara’s journey has been loved by so many.

It’s still only 99p but is unlikely to stay at this price for long so do grab yourself a bargain if you haven’t already done so (see below for the blurb).

You can buy it on Amazon here although I would recommend reading Carly’s Cupcakes first (also only 99p). It’s also available for Kobo and Apple Books, as well as on paperback and via audio and streaming services.

If you don’t fancy the idea of a Christmas book after Christmas, the good news is that Starry Skies is set across a whole year. It is front and back-ended by the festive season but isn’t pure Christmas … although Carly’s Cupcakes is purely set in December so is Christmas-themed throughout if you read that one first.

Thank you again for such kindness. You’ve started year with a blast with an amazing writing dream achieved.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.

But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely. 

With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.

But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…

The one where I was Top 3 in Australia

I had a lovely moment a week ago when one of my Christmas books – Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café – secured a pretty fabulous chart position in Australia.

Last Thursday (5th November) it climbed to number 3! Eek! That’s number 3 in the overall kindle chart.

This is the highest chart position that any of my books have achieved anywhere in the world in overall rather than category charts, the previous highest being #9 in the Canada Kindle Chart for The Secret to Happiness last year.

Prior to that, my highest position in Australia was #11 with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow so it was really exciting to break the Top 10 and even more exciting to get into the Top 3 down under.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t enter my head how incredible it would be to achieve the #1 position but I knew there was no chance and that wasn’t me being negative. The latest Jack Reacher outing written by Lee Child and his brother Andrew had just been released and was #2. I was never going to outsell Jack Reacher! The top slot was held by Imogen Clark’s The Last Piece. It was certainly a proud moment to be sharing chart space with them both.

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café is currently on a monthly Kindle deal in Australia which will have helped propel it up the chart and I’m thrilled that, a week later, it’s still in the Top 50.

The first and third books in my Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series – Making Wishes at Bay View and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove – are also in Kindle monthly deals in Australia so are on offer there. (Making Wishes at Bay View) is also on a UK monthly deal just now. These deals are throughout November so still plenty of time to bag bargains.

Thank you to all those readers in Australia who made another writing dream come true for me. It’s certainly something I could never have imagined happening this time last year!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where all my books are Best Sellers at the same time

Ask any author and they’ll tell you that seeing the orange #1 Best Seller tag on Amazon appearing on any of their books for the very first time is a special moment. I can remember the very first time one of mine received one. I nearly fell off my chair with excitement!

What does it mean?

All books are assigned to categories on Amazon based on relevance to the type of book/storyline and they get awarded the tag when they become the top selling book/ebook in that category.

For example, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is about a florist and is #1 in ‘Floral Crafts’, The Secret to Happiness is set in a fitness bootcamp and is #1 in ‘Exercise and Fitness’ and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove is #1 in ‘Divorce’ because the main character’s marriage falls apart.

If an author has several best seller tags at the same time, it’s extra exciting and, since Boldwood Books re-released my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series earlier this year, I’ve been proud to see the four books in that series regularly displaying their orange tag.

Then I saw six of my books with orange tags at the same time. Then seven. Eight… nine….

I was absolutely thrilled but couldn’t help wishing I could see all ten of them with tags at the same time. But that final tenth tag appeared destined to remain illusive. It seemed that, every time the book without one secured it, a different book would lose it. Or two books would lose it. Then one would get it back but another one would lose it. And so it went on.

But, last night, for the first time ever (or at least the first time that I’ve spotted) every single one of my ten published books was proudly sporting a #1 Best Seller orange tag on Amazon Kindle UK at exactly the same time. Eek! I was like a proud mum seeing my book babies get their little orange awards.

I expected to wake up this morning and one or two books to have lost their best seller status but, so far today, all ten have kept it. Woo hoo!

I am so grateful to readers who have bought or borrowed my books, helping them to get to the top of their categories, and to readers/reviewers who’ve recommended them to others. This is something I never, ever expected to achieve. THANK YOU. You’ve helped me achieve another writing goal and given another slap across the chops to that damn imposter syndrome!

You can find all my books on my Amazon page here. All but two are also available on AppleBooks, Kobo and Audible.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where I’ve emptied the emails and put a permanent out of office on. The day job is no more!

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I have just marked my final assignment, dealt with my final query, emptied my email folders and put on an out of office which says: “I no longer work for XXXX…..”

Five years in my day job as an HR Tutor have come to a close and I feel… What do I feel? Free? Elated? Excited? Scared? All of those and perhaps a little bit in denial that it has actually happened. I never thought the day would come.

If you were to ask my good friend and fellow author, the super talented Sharon Booth, what my writing goal has been in all the years we’ve known each other, she’d say, “To write full-time.” Some authors might specify their writing goals in terms of securing a  deal with a certain publisher, being taken on by a specific agent, winning an award, achieving a certain chart position or level of sales. For me, it has always been to be able to earn enough income to write full-time.

Why? Because I love it. It’s part of me. It’s who I am.

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I actually loved being a writer years before I even thought about writing a book. That may sound a little odd to say but my career has always been in HR, other than a brief diversion into retail when I opened and ran a teddy bear shop. My HR roles mainly specialised in recruitment and L&D (learning and development). The tasks that excited me were the ones where I got to write, whether that was a job advert, an assessor’s manual or a training exercise. The writing activities that gave me the biggest buzz were designing case studies or group exercises for recruitment or training purposes. Looking back, this was I was creating characters. I was developing plots. Of course, I had no idea that it was the start of me developing my skills ready to become an author. Destiny had plans for me!

Writing has always had to take a back seat to my day job and it’s been a tough old slog fitting it in but I’ve toiled away, writing on evenings and weekends, always hoping that I could one day write in a ‘normal’ 9-5 day. And now I can. Yay!!! The income won’t be nearly as much as I earn from the day job but I’ve managed to build up some day job savings that I can draw on in the hope that, one day, my writing income will be enough to do this forever.

So why do I feel a bit in denial? I suppose it’s because leaving a job where the office is my home and my colleagues and customers are all virtual is different than leaving a regular office job. When someone leaves an office job, they often say the thing they’ll miss the most is the colleagues they’re used to seeing every day but that isn’t the case for me because I’m a remote worker. I have a few colleagues who I am good friends with who I’ll definitely stay in contact with, one of whom I used to regularly meet up with pre-virus so I’m looking forward to being able to see her again. We have more than the job in common.

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I ran webinars and needed a reminder note on my desk so I wouldn’t forget it was webinar day! Felt strange recycling my notes. They’ve served me well!

When a teacher leaves a job, they would typically say they’ll miss their students but being an online tutor is different there too. I tutored two subjects, each of which have three compulsory and three optional practice assignments. I worked with some students on both subjects and others on only one. Some students wouldn’t pass a single assignment first time around and would ask lots of queries so, although we never met or spoke, we’d have a good working relationship. Others never interacted beyond submitting their assignments. Some were a delight to work with and were so enthusiastic to learn. Others not so much. But, because it was a constant churn as students moved through the qualification, the relationship was short-term so I don’t miss “my class” because I never had a class. That said, there are some students – recent and from some time back – who I will always remember for being an absolute pleasure to support on their journey.

There have been some major frustrations and I have massive empathy and respect for anyone in the teaching profession as a result of my five years as a tutor because … oh my goodness … so many students do not listen! Or read. Or pay attention. Argh! Which prompted my super talented husband to draw the amazing image at the top of this post of me at my desk with steam coming out my ears when even the basics couldn’t seem to be mastered.

For example, when running a webinar explaining the assignment:

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Me: This assignment is 500 words. There’s a 10% leeway meaning you can submit between 450-550 words. This applies to the WHOLE assignment, not per question. If you submit an assignment over or under the allowable word count, it won’t be marked….

Student 1: Is it 500 words per question?

Student 2: Can you go over word count?

I could write pages of examples but it would make for a very boring blog post for anyone except my colleagues who’d be nodding and smiling and rolling their eyes with me. I’m sure most people can relate to the picture, though, whatever job you’re in.

So tomorrow is a new dawn, new day, new era. Very, very exciting. And scary. But mostly exciting…

Thank you so much to my long-suffering husband and daughter who have never moaned at the ludicrously long hours I’ve had to work to try and keep two full-time jobs going.

Have a great start to the week. I’m certainly going to!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

 

 

 

 

The one where I remember the Top 40 singles chart

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

When I was young, Sunday was ‘visiting day’; the day where we had our Sunday lunch then bundled into the car and visited my mum and/or dad’s family who lived about 35 miles away. It wasn’t every week but it was regular.

IMG_6892We’d stay for tea at my grandma and granda’s house or occasionally dine with or visit other relatives. Tea was always afternoon tea-style food with sandwiches and scones and cakes. Lovely. Ooh, I could just fancy a bit of cake right now. Nom nom.

On the way home in the car, we’d catch part of the UK Top 40 Singles Chart on BBC Radio 1. We’re talking the late 1970s and most of the 1980s here and this was way before the days of digital downloads. In fact, most of that time was before CDs, with the charts compiled purely on the sale of vinyl records. Showing my age here!

In those days, singles would typically enter the charts and gradually climb up week on week, sometimes only one or two chart positions at a time. It would be exciting listening out for whether our favourite records would have gone up that week and, if so, how far and it would be so disappointing if they’d dropped, especially as that would typically mean the song wasn’t played.

What was even more exciting was predicting who’d be in the Top 3. One of the DJs – can’t remember which one now – used to get listeners to phone in with their predictions.

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Image by Martin Ludlam from Pixabay

Many amazing records didn’t make it to number 1 but still sold in significant quantities and the ones that did make it to that coveted position often stuck around at the top slot for weeks. Anyone remember Bryan Adams being at number 1 for eight years with ‘(Everything I do) I do it for you’? from the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Okay, so it was 16 consecutive weeks really but it felt like eight years although I never fell out of love with that song despite it being played constantly. This was 1991 and Bryan Adams still holds the record (literally) these days for having the longest number of consecutive weeks at number 1 in the UK.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this on a blog predominantly about writing and I promise there’s a link!

Over the past month or so, the four books in my Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series have been steadily climbing up the Kindle charts and, over Easter, I blogged about how excited I was that they’d all received a best seller tag for at least one of their categories and that they’d all broken into the Top 1000 with Book 2, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, storming ahead at #352 on the morning of 10th April. You can read that blog post here.

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Breaking the Top 1000 was so exciting for me. All the books had previously been released under different titles across 2015-2016 and, after my publisher ceased trading, I re-released them as an indie author. They had never got anywhere near this type of chart position so this was an absolute dream come true. But it kept getting better. By late April, they’d all cracked the Top 500 and, a week into May, they’d all cracked the Top 400 with the trailblazer, Seaside Blooms, making it into the Top 100 at #91 on 5th May. Wow!

Screenshot 2020-05-05 at 23.14.38It didn’t end there and this is where the chart connection comes in. Once a book makes it into the Top 100 on Amazon in any chart – including category charts – then you can see all the books in that Top 100 displayed beautifully in a chart showing the covers rather than just a number at the bottom of the book details.

It’s a lovely visual representation of how your book is performing and which authors have the books out either side of yours.

Screenshot 2020-05-10 at 20.08.24New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms made it to #51 in the overall Kindle chart a couple of days later on 7th May and suddenly a new milestone of Top 50 seemed realistic. The next day, it got to #42. Was the Top 40 possible? Yes, the following day, it reached #32. But that meant another potential milestone of Top 30. Could it? Would it? The day after – Sunday 10th May, it did. And, not only that, it also reached the Top 25 on the same day. Eek!!!!!

I will admit that, by this point, chart-position-watching had become a bit of an obsession. I think all ‘firsts’ are for writers. I remember staying up until midnight on the day of my first release to watch it arrive on my Kindle. I don’t do that now.

The charts are meant to get refreshed hourly but my experience is they don’t seem to – more like bi-hourly or even every three hours. I couldn’t sleep at night, waking up every couple of hours, wondering if I’d have made it even higher. I am still shattered from several days of doing this. I have, thankfully, got it out of my system now. I wasn’t setting an alarm or anything like that – I’m not that desperate – but it was like my body clock would go, “Right, you, a couple of hours have passed so it’s time to get up and check the charts”. So up I got and padded into my office across the landing to see where I was.

In the very early hours of the Monday morning, I hit #20. Top 20!!! Yay!!!!

But, of course, I wanted more. That’s the problem with achieving a goal; you instantly make a new one! Could I actually get inside the Top 20 into the teens?

It didn’t look like it. On Monday 11th May, Seaside Blooms began to drop to the mid-twenties. Boo. But 20 was absolutely amazing and when it first dipped inside the Top 1000, I’d never have dreamed of reaching that sort of number.

Like the UK singles chart where records go up and down, Seaside Blooms did the same. A good friend of mine tagged me on Facebook on Wednesday 13th May with a screenshot to show #19. I’d done it! I’d made it inside the Top 20 and figured that surely it would end there, especially when it began dropping again.

Up and down, up and down, it gradually moved towards the Top 10 with the highest position to date – #14 – being secured on Sunday 17th May. At some point over the past few weeks, it has held every single position from 14 to 30!

My mum and husband were convinced I’d make it into the Top 10 still but, with a few days having now passed since hitting #14, I think Seaside Blooms has definitely peaked. Although I thought that at #20 and, a few days later, it hit #19 so you never know.

Meanwhile the other three books are all doing me proud:

  • Making Wishes at Bay View (Book 1 in the series) is currently at a personal best of #157. Top 150 next?
  • Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Book 3) has a PB of #182 from Monday but has mainly hovered around #200 since then. I’m hoping it will follow Book 1 and 2 nearer the top of the charts as readers steadily work through the series
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Book 4) achieved a PB of #214 earlier today so I’m hoping it will break the Top 200 soon. It would be so amazing to have the entire series in the Top 200 together. Even better if they were in the Top 100 together! I achieved that on AppleBooks UK back in March with all of them being in the Top 75 at the same time which was another really thrilling moment.

I am absolutely delighted and so very grateful to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, for giving me this opportunity and to all the readers who have helped the series rise. I will admit, though, that it doesn’t feel real. When I was at #14, it didn’t feel possible that only 13 books in the UK out of the millions of eBooks on Amazon were higher in the charts than mine. As I’m typing this, it feels like something that must be happening to someone else; not to me.

Without wishing to sound pessimistic, I don’t think this is something that will happen to me again unless one of my books is on something like a BookBub promotion. I think a combination of factors have all come together at the same time to lead to the current positions enjoyed by Seaside Blooms:

  • Lockdown Time – people have the time to read a lot more and sales of eBooks have rocketed
  • Lockdown Comfort – readers want escapism and they want books that will uplift and hug them, which is what I write
  • Whole Series – because these are re-issues, the whole series are out at the same time, creating an appetite for binge-reading and more so during lockdown
  • Prime Deal – Seaside Blooms is currently on a Prime deal so lots of Prime members are downloading it too

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I don’t have another whole series in my back catalogue to re-issue and I hope we are never, ever in a scenario of lockdown ever, ever again so the above set of circumstances won’t happen again. Or at least I hope the lockdown scenario doesn’t happen again.

Going forwards, I will never forget the moment I broke every goal I dreamed of and those I hadn’t even dared to imagine.

I’ll never forget that unreal moment at 4am, lying back down in bed thinking, ‘I’m at number 14 in the charts!’ and having to fight the urge to wake up hubby to tell him.

I’ll never forget watching my books steadily moving up the charts, just like when I listened to my favourite songs moving up the charts on ‘visiting day’ as a child.

And I’ll never forget those who I’ve been unable to visit for many years. RIP, Granda Wiseman, Grandma and Granda Williams, Uncle Stan, Uncle George and Auntie Olive. Sending love and I hope I’ve done you proud.

Jessica xx

The one where I’ve nearly topped the AppleBooks chart

Apple BOTW Making WishesHave you ever achieved something that wasn’t even a goal of yours because it seemed so out of reach that having it as a goal would have been too unachievable? I’ve done that this month and it’s been the gift that keeps on giving.

Making Wishes - Apple Promo BannerFor week commencing 9th March, book 1 in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Making Wishes at Bay View, was the AppleBooks Free Book of the Week. This meant that it appeared on a scrolling banner on the AppleBooks home page and immediately topped the free book chart. Exciting!

What was more exciting was the impact this had on the rest of the series. Books 2 and 3, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove were placed on a 99p promotion on AppleBooks and, on the Thursday of that week, the final instalment, Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, was released for £1.99. So a reader could buy the entire 4-book series for less than £4. Super duper bargain!

Jessica Redland Series Pricing

All books on Amazon show the chart position for the whole chart and the specific category charts. On AppleBooks, you can only see your chart position when you enter the top 200. I eagerly watched the chart, hoping the rest of the series might break the top 200 and was so excited when they did. But across the course of the week, they gradually crept up that chart and did things I never dreamed they’d do.

I was beside myself with excitement when New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms made it inside the Top 10 in the Romance Chart and reached number 37 in the overall chart by the Friday of that first week. But it didn’t stop there…

Last week saw books 2-4 all reach the Top 10 on the Romance chart … and then the Top 5! Wow! New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms peaked at #2, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove reached #3 and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage made it to #5.

Books 2-4 - No 2, 3 & 5 in Paid Romance Chart

But they weren’t finished there. I couldn’t believe it when my editor emailed to say that New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms had made it to #6 on the overall chart i.e. all categories joined together. Then it crept up to #5. Then #4. At the time of writing, it’s still at #4 although that does change from day to day. Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove made it as high as #13 just today and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage made it to its highest overall chart position of #24.

You can click onto ‘Top Authors’ in the AppleBookstore and I actually appear on there. But look who I appear alongside! Oh. My. God!!!! Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this.

Top Authors Visual - Showing all R Authors

Screenshot 2020-03-27 at 19.40.29Apple don’t hold anywhere near the share of the marked that Amazon have with Kindle but it’s a growing market and I am beyond thrilled that my series is right at the top of the charts just behind or ahead of huge household names like James Patterson, Dean Koontz and Hilary Mantel, including some of my absolute favourite authors – Paige Toon and Lisa Jewell. Feels like some sort of surreal dream to see one of my books right next to Lisa’s when I’ve been a huge fan of her writing for years.

Making Wishes - No 131 in Paid Apple ChartAnd it doesn’t even end there. Despite thousands of readers downloading Making Wishes at Bay View, it has still charted, making it to #131 at the highest so far in the whole chart. And my first Boldwood release, The Secret to Happiness, has also charted again with #160 in the overall chart and as high as #30 in the Romance chart. Eek!

So, in the last few weeks, dreams that weren’t even dreams for me have been achieved and, in these strange and troubled times, I’m so grateful to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, who gave me this opportunity to stand out. This gift that keeps on giving has been such an amazing tonic, making me smile instead of cry, and I hope that these books have brought some comfort to those needing and welcoming an escape.

Will they ever make it to the #1 slot. I don’t think they will. You’d probably hear me screaming if they did! Thank you everyone who has made this possible.

Sending much love to you and your families to stay safe.

Jessica xxx

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The one where I become an international bestseller

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All writers have dreams and I’m no exception. Yet this week I achieved a dream that actually wasn’t even a dream. It felt like something so out of reach that I’d never even contemplated it for my wish list so I was astounded and thrilled when I became an international bestseller last night. Eek!

My new-found status comes on the back of a BookBub promotion in Australia and Canada. BookBub promote eBooks for free or bargain prices to their 10 million subscribers. The Secret to Happiness was offered for $1.64 in Australia and 99 cents in Canada. The promotion didn’t kick in until mid-afternoon yesterday but, once it started, it was so exciting refreshing the Amazon and Apple Australia and Canada sites to see progress.

It was particularly lovely for me to have a BookBub in both of these countries because I’ve visited both and it’s brought back fond memories…

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When I was 8, I visited Canada very briefly. And I mean very briefly as in for a few hours. My family went on a big holiday to the USA and took in Niagara Falls as part of that trip so we disembarked the Maid of the Mist on the Canadian side for an explore.

Twenty-five years later, I returned for my honeymoon and, this time, it was a few weeks instead of a few hours.

Hubby and I married in late September so we were actually in Canada this time 14 years ago. We decided to focus on British Columbia, starting in Vancouver.

IMG_7146
Whale-Watching on Vancouver Island

We spent a few days there, then caught a seaplane to Vancouver Island where we stayed for a few nights. After another night back in Vancouver, we took The Rocky Mountaineer up to Jasper. Such a beautiful place.

After a few nights there, we hired a car and made our way to Banff via Lake Louise where it started to snow.

The hills and mountains were all covered in snow and some of the roads to more remote lakes were already closed off ready for the heavy snowfall.

Our final stop was Calgary although we much preferred Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise.

 

We were hoping to go to Canada again for hubby’s 50th next year but he’s a keen photographer so wants to time it right for good photos, which doesn’t time right for school holidays. We may need to postpone a few years when our daughter has finished school. It’s such a stunning part of the world and the people are so friendly.

And there are lots of bears. We saw a few from the window of The Rocky Mountaineer which was amazing. Looking through the photo album, I noticed a bit of a trend of me having my photo taken next to stuffed or wooden carved bears. Good times!

Amazon Canada No 9 in Paid ChartBack to the BookBub promo in Canada, here’s a few stats:

Starting position #256,592 on Amazon Canada

Ending position #9 in the overall Amazon Canada Paid Chart

Achieved #1 bestseller in all these categories, some of which are slightly dubious but it’s Amazon’s algorithms at work and out of our control:

  • Clean & Wholesome Romance (hmm, not quite)
  • Holiday Fiction
  • Holiday Romance
  • Mashup Fiction
  • Sea Adventures (Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum me hearties!)
  • Sea Stories
  • Small Town & Rural Life

On Apple Canada, the top position reached was #7 in the overall chart and #3 in the Fiction & Literature chart.

Apple Canada No 6 in Paid ChartThank you so much, Canada. Yesterday was actually Thanksgiving in Canada. We were in Jasper for Thanksgiving on our honeymoon (it fell on 10th October) and, at that time, I had written about half of quite a poor novel. As we tucked into our Thanksgiving meal and celebrated with the locals, I never dreamed that 14 years later, my tenth book would make it to the top ten of the Canada charts! I am very thankful to the readers in Canada for helping The Secret to Happiness to soar so high.
AUSTRALIA

IMG_7132Twenty years ago, one of my best friends, Catryn, asked me if I’d like to go to New Zealand with her to visit her sister who’d emigrated out there. Yes please!

If we were going to travel to the other side of the world, we decided might as well go for a month and take in Australia and Bali too. Yeah, I know! Way too ambitious. In a month, we’d have only covered a small part of New Zealand or Australia alone, never mind both of them and Bali too! It worked out roughly at 10 days in NZ, 10 days in Aus, and 6 in Bali.

We spent February 2000 there and our trip to Australia was split between Sydney, Alice Springs/Uluru, and Cairns/The Great Barrier Reef. The weather was very inclement. It was overcast when we visited The Sydney Opera House and horrendous when we went to Uluru. You know when you see photos of people at Uluru and it’s a vibrant red/orange colour with a bright blue sky behind it? That wasn’t us.

Our trip took in a fairly nice sunset the evening before but our actual visit to the rock the following day was in a thunderstorm! We had to wear bin liners and negotiate floods as we made our way around the base.

Climbing the rock wasn’t an option as it was too dangerous. In some ways, I was quite pleased about that because I was having a moral dilemma about whether to climb or not. Part of me wanted to climb for the experience but a bigger part of me didn’t want to because I knew that the traditional owners wished against this in respect of their laws and culture. I didn’t think I had the right to over-ride that. I actually thought that the climb had since been stopped permanently but I Googled it and have discovered this will finally happen later this month.

We were actually lucky to get to Alice Springs and out to Uluru at all because the previous trip had been cancelled due to flooded roads.

The weather didn’t improve for a few days diving on The Great Barrier Reef either. The reef was all churned up and choppy and looked more like The North Sea than the stunning turquoise images we’re used to seeing.

It was an amazing experience, though, and I’d love to go back one day but take more time. Oh, and I wish I was as fat now as I thought I was when I was there. It’s scary how you can perceive your own body. I thought I was enormous. Hmm.

Onto my BookBub promotion in Australia. Being ten hours ahead of us, it was only late evening when I started moving up the Australian charts and I had a feeling it was going to be the early hours of the morning when it peaked and I’d miss it. I couldn’t stay awake, though. After retiring at about 12.45am, I awoke again around 3.00am and was thrilled to see I’d made it to #22 although I rose a little higher earlier today.

Amazon Australia No 20 in Paid ChartStarting position #174,463 on Amazon Australia

Ending position #20 in the overall Amazon Australia Paid Chart

Achieved #1 bestseller in even more categories, some of which are also slightly obscure:

  • Family Life Fiction
  • History (very random)
  • Holiday Fiction
  • Holiday Romance
  • Mashup Fiction
  • Parenting & Relationships
  • Sea Adventure Fiction
  • Sea Stories
  • Small Town & Rural Fiction
  • Travel
  • Women’s Fiction About Domestic Life

On Apple Australia, the top position reached was #26, and #7 on the Fiction & Literature Chart.

Apple Australia No 26 in Paid Chart
Thank you so much to all those readers in Australia who downloaded The Secret to Happiness and helped it get so high.

I cannot thank my publishers, Boldwood Books, enough for the amazing job they are doing in promoting and supporting all their authors. As I said right at the start, this wasn’t even on my radar as a dream so I am quite overwhelmed. It’s very likely the chart position will drop now that the promotion has ended but I’m thrilled to be able to say I got there and I have a million screenshots to prove it!

Jessica xx

The one where I talk about lightbulb moments and shifting goalposts

70339176_1400040106821488_6280215439226175488_nI had a lovely writing-related day on Saturday. It was the RNA’s annual York Tea and, as that didn’t start until 1pm, I arranged to meet a York-based writing friend on the morning. The last time we met was before the same event last year so we had a lot to catch up on. It was lovely to hear all about the next steps in her journey towards hopefully securing agent representation for her debut historical novel and she was keen to learn all about my publishing deal.

Then, on the afternoon, the event itself was fabulous and it was great to catch up with writing friends and chat to virtual friends for the first time face to face.

70641082_1400040126821486_3027867912644853760_nI could write loads about the York Tea but that’s not the purpose of this post which, instead, is about a lightbulb moment and a reminder of a poem I wrote a couple of years back.

When I was talking to my writing friend on the morning, she was keen to explore what made me move from being a “successful indie writer” to seeking a publishing deal. That made me laugh. Successful? Me? I explained that part of the reason for seeking a publishing deal was that I didn’t see myself as being successful at all. I talked about low chart positions and limited sales and she was genuinely astonished that I didn’t view myself as a successful writer. We talked quite a bit about this and it was illuminating to see myself through her eyes; the eyes of a new writer.

70928445_1400040553488110_2584542097021337600_nFor over six years, I’ve been part of a writing collective who provide support and encouragement to each other, celebrate successes, and offer sympathy during low periods. This is invaluable but, because we’re all published writers now, it’s easy to forget about the early days when typing ‘the end’ was a huge achievement and being published was the holy grail. I know that comparing yourself to others is the worst thing possible but it’s also a natural human inclination. When I compare myself to the other talented authors within my writing family who write for a similar market as me, I have always been bottom of the class. I’ve only vicariously experienced high chart positions, volume sales, Amazon Prime deals, and bonuses for pages read. Whilst thrilled for my friends and cheering on their success, the question has always haunted me: What am I doing wrong? I therefore wanted to work with a publishing expert who would get me the visibility/sales that have evaded me as an indie writer, despite great reviews.

My writing friend listened to all of this and she understood where I was coming from but she listed all the things I had achieved and how in awe of this she was as someone starting out on her writing journey. As I say, it was illuminating to see myself through the eyes of a new writer.

70455697_1400040296821469_3810547224698421248_nAt the RNA Tea, I was sat next to my fabulous author friend, Sharon Booth, and a wonderful RNA member we’ve met before had a conversation with us and expressed her admiration for how well we were both doing. A friend of hers who we’d only previously ‘met’ virtually came over and said the same thing. In fact, she called us both “inspiring”. You know those cartoons where a question mark circles round the character’s head? That was us. We were hearing all these words like impressive, inspiring, role-model, aspirational and felt such a disconnect. It’s absolutely not how we view ourselves so it was astonishing to hear others describe us both in this way.

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 09.40.00
Why don’t we see ourselves the way others see us? It goes back to a poem I wrote a couple of years ago which I posted on my blog at the time but I’ve posted below again. IMG_6926I’m no poet (as you can see) but the sentiment is there. As writers, we’re so busy shifting the goalposts that we can easily forget to focus on everything that we’ve achieved so far. I’m doing it again at the moment. So far, Boldwood Books have released six books and mine was the fourth of these but the only one out of the six not to break the top 1,000 on release date. Several have actually broken into the top 300 which is beyond amazing and I am so thrilled for them because that is such a wonderful achievement and must be such a buzz. I still haven’t broken the 2,000 mark. When I should be doing a happy dance because this is way better than the positions of any of my other books, I’m worrying that I’ve let my publisher and me down. When did I become such an over-thinker?

Screenshot 2019-09-14 at 07.59.18

So, I’m trying to focus on the successes and the goals achieved instead of the ones that are (currently) out of reach. At the time of publishing this, I have:

  1. 16 reviews on Amazon and they are all 5-star and they are all amazing reviews full of wonderful words that make me cry for joy
  2. The number 1 slot in the ‘Hot New Releases’ category on Amazon
  3. 10 books published and have written 11, with another 3 part-written
  4. 49 reviews on NetGalley, 94% of which are 4 or 5 star (59% 5 star and 35% 4 star)
  5. Been offered 3 x publishing deals, the one from Boldwood Books being a dream of a deal that I still can’t believe I was fortunate enough to secure
  6. Amazing reviews on Amazon of all my other books: 395 reviews, 98% of which are 4 or 5 star (81% 5 star and 17% 4 star)

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 12.55.38

And that’s just the facts and figures. Add to that a supportive family and a writing family and I really am very lucky. If somebody had tapped me on the shoulder when I was working on my debut novel, Searching for Steven, and told me that I would achieve all of the above, I wouldn’t have believed them because it sounded so awesome.

IMG_6925A few weeks ago, I arranged for all the females on my side of the family to meet for lunch in York. I met up with my mum, one of my cousins and my two sisters-in-law for a mooch around the shops first. One of my SILs told me how much she was looking forward to reading The Secret to Happiness and how proud she was of everything I’d achieved. I was really touched by that. Then, at the meal, Mum got everyone to sign a card for me and I was asked to give a speech about my new publishing deal. My family were so proud and keen to know more which made me feel like I had actually done something special.

Why haven’t I felt this way before? I think that, like so many writers, I’ve struggled over the years to admit that I’m an author because the response is either:

  • IMG_6927‘I’d love to write a book … if only I had the time’ accompanied by a clear judgement that I obviously have loads of spare time
  • Genuine disinterest/change of subject
  • ‘Would I have heard of you?’ and then disinterest when I’m not in The Times Top 100
  • ‘I don’t read’ accompanied by a change of subject

So it’s easier to stay quiet than face this sort of reaction. I don’t get why people behave like this because, by saying we’re authors, we’re not saying we’re special or better than others; we’re simply declaring our career choice. I have friends who will ask me about how my day job is going (I’m a freelance HR Tutor) and be happy to chat about my work and theirs but they never, ever ask me about writing. Why not? Writing is also my day job and one day I hope it will be my full-time day job. It upsets me and, as a result, I’ve  repeatedly put myself back in my box and stopped seeing any achievements as being special, focusing on the negative aspects instead. Not anymore.

IMG_6929

Perhaps it’s time for a different type of goal. Instead of focusing on the chart positions and sales figures, my goal is to do with the title of my book and what it is that makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Creating characters and putting them in challenging situations makes me feel alive. As long as I still feel that way, then I have achieved success at being a writer. With a sprinkle of hope and luck, maybe the other things will start happening when I stop worrying about them. And, if they don’t, then I need to focus on what I’ve achieved and remember how I felt when an idea for a story was all I wanted and everything else wasn’t even a dream; never mind a reality.

I’ll stop wittering now and leave you with the poem which is just as relevant to me now as it was when I wrote it a couple of years ago. The only bit I’ve changed is how many books I’ve written. It was six before.

Have a fabulous week.

Jessica xx

 

Never Enough by Jessica Redland

All I want is one idea

How difficult could that be?

A plot that has some mileage

That would be enough for me

All I want is to write a book

What an achievement that would be

300 pages, a brand new world

That would be enough for me

All I want is for someone to read it

A friend or family

If they said it was good; that I could write

That would be enough for me

All I want is an eBook publisher

How amazing would that be?

To believe in my story and share my work

That would be enough for me

All I want is to make some sales

Just one, or two, or three

A handful of readers to download to Kindle

That would be enough for me

All I want is some good reviews

How flattering would it be

For strangers to say they love my work?

That would be enough for me

All I want is to climb the charts

It would make me so happy

To see my ‘baby’ go up and up

That would be enough for me

All I want is a bestseller tag

In some obscure category

That orange flag would scream success

That would be enough for me

All I want is to break the top hundred

I know there’s no guarantee

But then I’d know I’ve got some talent

That would be enough for me

All I want is to be top ten

Can anyone hear my plea?

Side by side with my favourite authors

That would be enough for me

All I want is a number one

I’d barely contain my glee

That coveted slot and all those sales

That would be enough for me

All I want is a paperback

Something I can hold and see

To say “I wrote this”, oh my word

That would be enough for me

All I want is to write full time

A lady that lunches? So me!

Full days in my office, creating away

That would be enough for me

All I want is an audio deal

Listening while sipping my tea

Those accents, those sounds, my world brought to life

That would be enough for me

All I want is my books on the shelves

Of a supermarket: big four. Or three

The sales, the success would remove all the stress

That would be enough for me

All I want is a top five publisher

The validation? My pants I would pee!

I’d finally know that I really can write

That would be enough for me

All I want is to make foreign sales

Australia? France? Germany?

Translations galore, the world at my door

That would be enough for me

All I want is the film to be made

The big screen for everyone to see

Amazing reviews, the compliments ooze

That would be enough for me

All I want is an Oscar win

I’d really be top of the tree

Best screenplay? Oh my, I think I would cry

That would be enough for me

All I want is some book two success

And the same for book number three

Doing even better than first out the grid

That would be enough for me

All I wanted was one idea

To write a book, just for me

But the goalposts kept changing, my life rearranging

And it’s never enough for me

It’s easy to feel so overwhelmed

When sales aren’t what I’d hoped

And reviews are mean and personal

And very unprovoked

When all the writers that I know

Seem to do so great

And the day job takes priority

So my writing has to wait

So it’s back to the start to recapture that feeling

When first I typed “the end”

When someone said, “I loved it!”

Even though they were a friend

When I sat at my keyboard and laughed and cried

As my characters found their voices

When the publishing world was unexplored

But filled with exciting choices

The task once seemed impossible:

To write a full-length story

A big fat tick against that goal

I should bask in the glory

That I achieved what many don’t

And repeated it eleven-fold

I am a writer BECAUSE I WRITE;

Not for how many I’ve sold