Monday, 3 May 2021

 Two Years On

Two years ago today, I accepted and signed a contract for three books with my lovely publisher, RUBY FICTION. This time in May 2019, I was on cloud nine and delighted to be joining a group of writers whose books I have enjoyed and whose writing I admire. At the time, I had submitted one novel and was in the process of editing novel two. Then, I had no idea of author-brand and just enjoyed trying to write the kind of novels I liked reading. Little did I know then, or could ever imagine, that both those novels would be published in the middle of a global pandemic.

Her Mother's Secret (Published 21st April 2020) - Everything from working with an editor, deciding on a title, choosing cover designs, and writing blog posts about the novel to coincide with publication was a new experience and one that I loved doing. I learned so much from everyone in the Ruby Fiction team and am grateful for that. The night before my book was let out into the world, I was both excited and nervous, worrying about what the reviews would be like. Because we were in the middle of a complete lockdown last April and travel was prohibited, the novel soon appeared to become an escapist read. It was often viewed as armchair travelling to the sun and virtual Greece. Publication day was spent in the garden eating Greek-style food and in the evening, there was a surprise Zoom get-together with family and friends. We were all getting to grips with Zoom back then but by the novel's book-birthday last month, Zoom has become a way of life for many of us. Seeing the novel as Number 1 in The Amazon Hot Releases in Greek Travel for a short while as well as being nominated for the longlist of the Not-the-Booker prize and receiving votes was exciting.  

Fast forward five months and Her Sister's Secret (Published 15th September 2020) followed quite quickly. I'd been through the processes before but the nervousness of how the book would be received came back with a vengeance. I'd been thrilled with the messages and reviews received for my debut novel so this time there was the added concern of expectation. Restrictions had been lifted a little in Wales by then and we celebrated publication day by going to a Sicilian restaurant, eating al fresco, and sampling some of the food my characters would have eaten when they visited Sicily. Again I have been humbled by the messages and reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads for the novel. My publisher organised for it to be on offer on Book Bub in October and waking up to see it with an orange bestseller flag and ranked as #34 in the UK Kindle store, #14 in Australia and #27 in Canada was very special.

A huge thank you to all you readers who have downloaded the two novels and let me know how you've enjoyed them. Novel three is with the publisher now and hopefully will be published in the summer. Like the others, it's a dual narrative that explores a mother and daughter relationship and involves secrets and forbidden love. Set in 1941 and 1963, the contrasting area in this book is Normandy in Northern France and deals with a difference in social class. 

I've been reflecting on my brand and what readers may expect from reading one of my books. On October 28th, my blog post  What Readers Expect looks at this in detail. One of the features I picked out was '...the characters' emotions, their highs and lows, are shared with the readers'.  Ruby Fiction has as its strapline 'Stories that inspire emotions!' I like to think that my novels do just that. They are character-driven and the word 'emotion' or 'emotional' crops up in many of the comments.

Her Mother's Secret:
 'Reading the novel is a voyage of discovery into Elin and Alexandra's lives and is packed with emotions...'
'... She knows how to get the emotions simmering.'
'... everything is brought together in this emotional, engrossing journey.'
'... we laugh and cry with the characters.'

Her Sister's Secret
'The story of Rose and Jennifer is told with love and care, and even the most difficult parts are done with great compassion that tugs at your heartstrings.'
'... you will feel the emotion as if you were there.'
'... an emotional page-turner...once again had me captivated from start to finish.'
'... it touched on so many issues. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful at times, with a lovely ending.'

Thank you Ruby Fiction for believing in me and my stories. I hope you think they do inspire emotions and fit your remit well. I have loved working with the editor at Ruby and I hope you'll agree that the cover designer has done a wonderful job each time. 

Thank you for reading. Writers, what do readers expect when they choose to read your novels? Readers, do you select an author's book knowing what s/he will be offering you as you read the pages? I'd love it if you left a comment below. Thank you.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.