My rollercoaster writing career – Susanne O’Leary

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By Susanne O’Leary

After eighteen years of writing, ten of which traditionally published and eight self-published, I have recently signed a two-book deal with a major London publisher. That’s my career in a nutshell; from traditional to self-publishing and back to traditional again. My writing life has been chequered but also fascinating, scary, nerve-racking, heart-breaking, educational, highly satisfying and so much fun. A rollercoaster ride in other words. I couldn’t have picked anything more challenging, or more enjoyable.♥

So here I am, having come full circle being traditionally published again. But how publishing has changed since I last pressed my nose to the windows of a publishing house!

I was a huge fan of self-publishing during my Indie years, loving the creative freedom it gave me and the amazing learning curve I had to face when tackling editing, formatting, cover design and then that hard work of marketing. Sales went up and down, periods of amazing sales interspersed with some very lean times, all depending on what type of promotions I was doing and how often I had a new release. But I loved the challenge and the thrill of seeing sales increase. I also loved the whole production process and seeing my own creation out there in the e-book stores around the world.

Why sign with a publisher when I have been happily (and quite successfully) self-publishing for over eight years? This might look like I am now contradicting all the glowing things I’ve said about self-publishing, all the cheering and being proud to be an Indie and how I’d never give my work away to one of ‘them’ ever again, like a mantra. Was it a case of ‘the lady doth protest too much?’ Or sour grapes about not being traditionally published?

No to all of the above. I was happy doing my own thing, having my little team of cover designer, beta readers, editor and formatting expert. Loved writing my own way without anyone butting in and telling me what would and wouldn’t fit into any genre. No publisher could give me the peace of mind and the satisfaction of what I had created myself. But, but… the climate out there is becoming harsh. The market is crowded, Amazon is not supporting Indie authors as much as they used to and the whole thing was increasingly like pushing a huge boulder up a steep hill. With my nose.

Then along came Bookouture — a publisher that really ‘gets’ e-publishing and the ever changing market. Having seen their books racing up the charts and talked to some of their authors, I decided to have a go myself and submitted The Road Trip, my latest rom-com, a kind of Ab Fab meets Thelma and Louise tale. In a way, this was an experiment, just to see if this book was good enough to be taken up by a publisher. I didn’t really know how I felt about going trad again.

But it then started to happen… It didn’t take long before an editor came back to me saying she loved the book. After a telephone conversation and a few more e-mails, they made me an offer of a two-book deal I happily accepted. I felt I could do these two books with them and then decide if I wanted to submit any subsequent work. I have now nearly finished the final edits of book #2 of this deal. I have loved working with them and been very impressed with the thorough editing, great cover designs and on-the-ball marketing.

Will I submit more novels to them? Yes, definitively, if they’ll have me. I feel that this new kind of publishing has happened because of what we as Indies have done. We made the market what it is today, and I’m very proud of what we have all achieved. And I’ll proudly go out there again if my circumstances change, with a better insight of the market after my Bookouture experience. And this time, unlike the early days, I have absolutely nothing to lose.

The Road Trip, My first Bookouture book will be published on June 12, the second in August. You can read all about it on the Bookouture blog.

Susanne O’Leary is the bestselling author of more than 20 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written three crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. The wife of a former diplomat, she has also been a fitness teacher and a translator. She now writes full-time from either of two locations, a rambling house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties, or doing yoga, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months.

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