A chick-lit author, rejected by every publisher, is now at the top of the Amazon charts with self-published books inspired by her own heartbreak – and earns so much that she has rejected traditional publication deals.
Nicola May, 53, from Ascot, writes novels, but interweaves some of her painful personal experiences, such as breaking up and even undergoing a hysterectomy.
In 2011, she published her first novel Working it Out and has since published another nine, one of which went to the number one spot in the Amazon Kindle store.
She has recently given up her past career, and now she can spend her time writing full time – she plans to write a new novel every year. Here she tells Femail how her writing career came about and how she successfully published her 10 novels.
Nicola May, 53, from Ascot, writes novels, but interweaves some of her painful personal experiences, such as breaking up and even a hysterectomy
The novelist says that her writing began in 1996, when she started a diary for her marathon training, which quickly became observations about life, people and relationships.
& # 39; I have shared some pages with family and friends, who found my writing very entertaining. I finished the half marathon, didn't finish the diary, but decided to write a romantic comedy novel instead & she said to Femail.
To begin with, writing was just a hobby for her: & I worked for most of my career as a European event manager for large companies.
& # 39; I have never forgotten the dream of writing full-time and wrote & # 39; in the evenings, at weekends and on public holidays to ensure that my books kept coming to the market and pleased my growing readership.
With Anne Robinson promoting her book on the radio – she says that self-promotion can be quite difficult
Nicola promotes one of her books The SW19 Club in a bookstore – she uses signing to promote her book
A successful chick-lit author has revealed how she bypassed the traditional publishing route and published her novels herself, some even becoming bestsellers
Her early success ensured that she managed to get hold of a cop, which seems almost impossible in the book world, but there was disappointment on the way: & after having got hold of a cop, but then not getting a publisher for years, the cop let me fall. I decided to do it alone and to publish independently.
& # 39; I did well, even won a few prizes at the Festival of Romance for Best Author Read. But despite a peak in sales, I couldn't take the chance to jump financially and write alone.
& # 39; When I had written five novels, another agent noticed me, I signed with them and then almost immediately got a deal with seven books from a traditional publisher.
Nicola & # 39; s early success made it possible for her to get hold of a cop, but after not receiving a publisher for years, the cop dropped her. She decided to do it alone and to publish her novels independently
In April 2018, she decided to do it alone again and published The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay, the first of a three-part book series, via Amazon Kindle
& # 39; I jumped for joy – but this was short-lived. I had always thought that having a publisher would be a guaranteed path to success, but no – my dream was still not realized. & # 39;
So in April 2018, she decided to do it alone again and published The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay, the first of a three-part book series, via Amazon Kindle.
& # 39; I planned my marketing approach to start with 50 blogs about social media. I also promoted the book as a great holiday reading and then it happened. Sales started to flow, the reviews flew in and now I have enjoyed the success of number 1 in many charts and, more importantly, I can now classify myself as a full-time author. & # 39;
However, in the beginning she remembers her struggle to promote herself: & # 39; It was difficult. I focused on signing sessions and appearances and tried to get reviews in magazines instead of spending money on online advertising. & # 39;
Author Nicola May with her cat – she said self-promotion of her books was difficult, but focuses on singing books and reviews, rather than traditional advertising – which can be expensive
Promote one of her first novels on the radio – talk and pose with Mike Read (photo) with her novel The School Gate
& # 39; I now realize that an active presence on social media and finding ways to work with the many Amazon tools out there to help are crucial. Online marketing is the way to promote e-books.
She uses personal experience as inspiration for her books and admits: & My mother died very young – in fact, when I was only 17, Let Love Win focuses on a young widow and how she overcomes her grief.
& # 39; I remembered how my father was struck after losing the love of his life, but I write it in the perspective of the heroine.
Nicola poses with her book and also actor Scott Neal, who has appeared in the Bill and EastEnders
Nicola admits that her dating experiences also became the subject of one of her books. Depicted – crabs in Devon
& # 39; The Women of Wimbledon Common was very Catholic to write & # 39 ;, the author admits, & # 39; like Gracie, the heroine loses twins and then has to undergo a hysterectomy. The same happened to me tragically. & # 39;
Her dating experiences also became the subject of one of her books: & # 39; I have done a lot of dating in my time and it started with a click (formally Love me Tinder) describing the dramatic trials and tribulations of online dating. & # 39 ;
All her hard work has finally paid off, when her book The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay reached the number one spot in the Kindle Store for more than a month earlier this year.
Speaking of her success, she said: & it felt great. It was a huge dream come true for me and the fact that it stayed at number one for more than four weeks was an incredible achievement for a self-published author. I am very proud of that. & # 39;
Nicola (right) with a friend. She said it feels great to win prizes and get to the top of the Kindle charts
Nicola, enjoying her free time and completely dressed up, during afternoon tea with cakes and wine – with friends
The book is part of a three-part series and the second book Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay, which is now available, sees Rosa newly married and successfully using her inherited store on the corner.
The third book in the series, which she is currently working on, sees the character go through a long and painful journey to ensure that her great-grandfather's legacy is respected.
She has also won several awards for her novels and says she has several & # 39; pinch me & # 39; moments.
& # 39; This is the first year that I have just been able to write. I don't need to wake up and go to an office and do a job that I don't really want to do. I just make a big cup of tea, open my laptop and make magic every day instead, & she says.
All her hard work has finally paid off, when her book The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay reached the number one spot in the Kindle Store for more than a month earlier this year. Pictured – with a friend
Nicola with her father, who is also the illustrator of her books – she has now published ten books
But despite her success, she says she is still a star truck when she met other authors.
& # 39; Patrick Gale and David Nicholls are two of my favorite writers. I met Patrick during a signing event in Cornwall. I had a book from my sister that I promised I would have it signed for her. I was completely confused when I reached him in line and asked him to sign it instead, she was not so happy!
& # 39; I recently saw David Nicholls talk in London and am currently reading his latest book; Sweet sorrow. He tweeted answers to me a few times, making me a little weak on my knees. His writing is so good.
& # 39; I have learned a lot from both writers to be honest. Patrick writes dark characters so convincingly. David's ability to write about what we all think is perfect. & # 39;
The Kindle Storyteller Award celebrates independent and newly published work in the English language in every genre. Budding authors have until August 31 to go to www.amazon.co.uk/storyteller
Nicola advises to have your book published
Take out the outside world
If you are serious about writing a bestseller, your imagination must be turned on and everything else is turned off. This also applies to your TV, your telephone and all forms of social media. It's amazing how many words you can get if you only focus on the job. It can also prove to be incredibly therapeutic. Only you and your world of sham.
Know your genre and stick to it
Browse the Amazon bookshelves and make sure your own masterpiece fits into a genre. It is then much easier to put it on the market once it is published. Read and learn from other books in your genre. How many pages does your book have to contain? What do other covers look like? Are there general themes & titles in the Top 20 best-selling chart of your genre? Read reviews, both good and not so good, and see if there are recurring comments that you could learn from.
A good editor is of the utmost importance
An accomplished editor will make the difference between a good book and a bestseller. As a writer you are so immersed in your own work that it is notoriously difficult to perform a good adaptation. Do some research to find the best editor for you. Ask for recommendations from writing groups on social media. A book can always be improved with fresh and experienced eyes.
Get early feedback from people you trust
I have a small network of readers within my friends and family who read my books pre-edit. I take some of their comments with me, others don't, but it's good to get some honest feedback on your work before you release it to the world.
Perseverance over resistance
Writers write. If you have a talent and your dream is to become a best-selling author, never give up. Believe and you'll come there. There is no rush. It took me eight years and nine novels until I became number 1 in the Amazon Kindle store. I really believe that perseverance is the only difference between the authors who make it and the authors who don't.
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