2022 and all that: a review of my writing and publishing year

2022 has been quite a year – I think we can all agree on that. I’ve spent a fair portion of it with my jaw on the floor at what the government have got up to. However, that’s not what I’m here for. On to the review!

It’s been an odd year, writing and publishing-wise.

For one thing, I’ve written and released fewer books than usual.

I started the year by finishing a series – thinking about it, that sort of out-of-orderness should have been a sign! Fully Booked rounded off the Magical Bookshop series at six books. I have had lots of enquiries as to whether I’ll write more of this series. I definitely have ideas for various stories set in the same slightly skewed world – though they may not be in the same timeframe or with all the same characters – and I may get to some of those in 2023.

The next book was a curveball – a children’s book! Rich Girl, Poor Girl is a middle-grade novel (intended for ages 9-12) set in 1890. It actually sprang out of a commission I did for Vocabulary Ninja in late 2021, which involved writing lots of flash-length stories for primary-school-aged children.

I wrote the story comparatively quickly early in the year, had a try at finding a children’s books agent, then decided to go with what I know and self-publish it – so the book didn’t come out till November. My main learning from this book was that I don’t like waiting for other people to make decisions!

Next up in the rogues’ gallery – Perkins! Perkins the Halloween Cat is a picture book, and again, not something I usually do. In some respects it was an easy thing to do, as I’d written the story a few years ago when my kids were small, and the wonderful Lucy Shaw did the illustrations for me. However, formatting the book to showcase both words and illustrations was a challenge!

Doing this book also opened up another new thing – school visits! I did my first whole-school visit in October and had a great time. Marketing children’s books is hard, though – I take my hat off to children’s authors, especially self-published ones!

And now, another curveball – a completely unexpected one! The Case of the Four Fingers came about through a Heritage Open Days visit to the Bridewell Studios and Art Gallery in Liverpool, which used to be a police station and is reputedly haunted. Well, when something like that falls into your lap, what are you to do? Cue a story about a modern police officer who encounters a ghost detective. I thought it would be a nice short Halloween story, but it turned into a novella and will be the first of a series. You can read more about the genesis of the book here. Oh yes, and it’s currently on offer for 99c/99p (US/UK).

So that’s it for new releases. But what else did I do?

  • I published two new box sets – the Mrs Hudson and Sherlock Holmes complete series and the Magical Bookshop volumes 4-6.
  • I edited several books for clients old and new, and also delivered coaching sessions.
  • I did my usual day a week in a primary school, working with year 5 and 6 pupils on reading and comprehension skills.
  • I spent time working on Amazon advertising, and managed to scale up my ads on more than one series.
  • I approached an audiobook company and got an audiobook deal on the first three books in the Magical Bookshop series!
  • I got new covers for the Pippa Parker mystery series. This makes it sound much easier than it was. First I tried using a cover design agency but it didn’t work out. Then I made various photographic covers, which the majority of people I asked didn’t like very much. Finally, I made a set myself and now they are on the books! What a palaver! However, the books are selling better and advertising works better too, so I guess the pain was worth it!
  • I also had a chat to the publishers who look after the digital versions of the Sherlock & Jack series, and as a result the books have had a few Bookbub promotions this year, which have done very well.

And finally, Paula Harmon and I are working on a new series, which was my last writing task of 2022! Booker & Fitch Mysteries is a modern-day cozyish mystery series, and the first book, Murder for Beginners, will be out at the end of January 2023!

What have I learnt from all this?

  • I don’t like waiting for other people to make decisions – I’m too much of a control freak!
  • Children’s books are fun to do but much harder to market than books for adults.
  • You can write fewer books but still earn more money.
  • Investing time and money in your backlist can pay off really well.
  • The first year of a book isn’t necessarily its most profitable year.
  • It’s fun to try new things and sometimes be surprised by an unexpected book.
  • You don’t have to do everything yourself – though sometimes it turns out to be the easier path.

What will I do in 2023?

Good question! Some things are set in stone – the Booker & Fitch preorders, for instance! Apart from that, I want to spend more time writing, more time trying new things (like drawing, which I’ve dabbled in a tiny bit and enjoyed this year), and more time working on backlist books as well as creating new ones.

Watch out for my new year goals post, which will be along soon!

How was your year? Did it turn out the way you expected?

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