My Writing Journey: From Start to Now

I’ve seen and done some amazing things. I have my writing and books to thank for that. My career as an author has pushed me out of my comfort zone and into the woman I was always meant to become. It isn’t always easy but it has always been rewarding.

I first started writing when I was fifteen. My family home had just burnt down, and we lost everything- well materialistic things anyway. All our childhood photos, videos and sentiments alongside it. Sadly, my pet snake perished in the flames. Luckily, my family dog that was trapped on the veranda had been saved by the neighbour- still a massive shout out and thank you to that legend! Yes, it was horrible. Did we survive- of course. My entire family learnt a very valuable lesson about materialistic objects and redefinition of what mattered in our lives that day and the months that would follow.
We were in a rental home sorting out the old to be demolished and a new one was to be built. This was the period in my life that I started to express myself through words and poetry. I was an angsty teen to start off with. At that time, I was in highschool and working two part time jobs, I was a teen that worked hard and liked to save. Looking back now, I had quite the attitude and often felt ‘different’ in my social groups at school. I was angry at the world for no reason at all other than teenage hormones.

I read a lot of books in my teen years and during classes, much to my teachers’ frustration, I would read. I absolutely fell in love with authors: Cassandra Clare and Kristen Cashore. They were the two authors who inspired me to start writing my first manuscript, Possession of My Soul: The Three Immortal Blades. It took me two years to complete it. I walked around with a notepad in my pocket at both jobs and skipped out on social events on the weekends so I could write.

Fast forward to when I was seventeen and just about to graduate Highschool I sent my manuscript to numerous agents and publishing houses. Much to my surprise, I received a politely worded rejection letter from all of them. How could my seventeen-year-old self even fathom that such a thing would even happen? How could my hopes and dreams be shot down so easily? Being young I took the rejection rather personally and let it sit for a while- certain I wasn’t good enough.

After I graduated, I studied for a TEFL certificate with the dream of moving to Japan to teach English. But then… I fell in love… Bump Bump Baaaaa.

Over the next two years I worked two jobs majority of the time and studied freelance journalism with two different colleges assuming I wanted to be a journalist. So, I got a new job as a media sales representative at my local newspaper. I wanted to see first hand if it was something that I would enjoy, so I watched the Journalists with keen eyes. After a few months I realised it wasn’t the form of writing I wanted to express myself through. I didn’t like the questions that they had to ask some victims and that they didn’t have too much choice in what and how they were able to write. To me, it seemed limited. At this point I was now writing my second manuscript, Phantom Wolf in a different series. I had never given up on my creative writing, I did it at home when I found the time between working full time during the week at the local newspaper and then nights and weekends at a Fish and Chip shop as well.

When I realised journalism wasn’t what I wanted, I found researched the possibility of self-publishing. I looked through numerous vanity presses, even considered a few more approaches to traditional publishing houses; but instead CreateSpace (Amazon) caught my eye. I realised the dream could be real if I worked hard enough towards it and could figure it out step by step. I did a lot of research- Hardly enough now that I look back at how little I knew.

I was now nineteen and on the 1st of January 2014, I made the resolution to publish my book that year. So, I went in search for freelance editors, cover artists and all the extra bits and pieces that I needed on the way. It was hard because I went in like a teenage amateur, because that’s exactly what I was! My first freelance editor hated my work and told me that one of my characters, Lucas was as likeable as cancer and that my wolves couldn’t possibly be that large (despite it being a Fantasy series). He really hurt my feelings and only edited 2/3rds of the book, even though he still took the full lump payment. I was upset and gutted that the first person, beside few family members hated my book so much!

I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve always been a hard worker and very determined to say the least, so I allowed myself a pity party for a week before being offered encouraging words by family members and friends to keep going. So, I did. I found a new editor who loved the book and was the perfect fit for me. I learnt my first valuable lesson at this point and that was business relationships especially in a creative field were important. I realised that not just any one person would do, and I had to find the right person. I found a cover artist who I still work with to this day. My editor was from Ireland and my cover artist is from Czech Public. I was waking up at odd times so I could work with them back and forth online.

I printed business cards and bookmarks and prompted through printing via Createspace, Amazon’s Print on Demand is. Wowsers! Wasn’t printing books expensive! That’s something I learnt very quickly. At this point, my only hope and dream was to publish a few copies for friends and families for a personal achievement. I invited everyone to my ‘book release and book launch’ which was at my local pub to celebrate my first published book.

My copies didn’t arrive in time for logistic reasons, so I only had 5 proof copies to show on the night. On top of that, they all were printed with an uneven gold trimming. What a disaster! I cried thinking that my release was a bad omen and I was failing before I had even started. After snapping myself out of it, I printed cards that thanked the person for their purchase and said… “Ooops something happened to the postman, but I’ll bring them to you in the next few days.” Considering I knew most of those amazing people, they were still supportive and bought copies. They celebrated and cheered with me that night on my hard work and success. Fun Fact: All original 60 copies of my first book printed all have a gold trim on the cover. I was mortified at first but changed that thought into a more positive outlook. That they were my first copies ever and limited in their own way. Lucky readers!

By this time, I had already finished Phantom Wolf and published it only five weeks after my first. I organised with my local library to have some space where I could give a speech and release book number two! Yay! Again, it was family and friends that came because I hadn’t at this point realised the importance of advertising and social media. The night was a success and now I had two awesome books released. I set up a bookstand in the Fish and Chip shop that I worked in, selling my books in there and was able to get my book into my local bookstore and library. I got some interesting opportunity from having the bookstand in the place that I worked. It was where I was first approached to guest speak outside of my country town. I did so- nervously. It was for a Rotary club, an entirely different target audience to the one I was aiming for. They were lovely and still supportive. After my nervous speech a lot of them purchased a copy for their grandchildren. They were honestly so lovely and a massive support in brining me out of my comfort zone and first ‘podium’ so to speak. That’s when I learnt that opportunity came in all different shapes and sizes.

I changed from the local newspaper realising that journalism wasn’t for me and went into Construction and Transport Management. So now I was working days on site; nights and weekends at the Fish and Chip shop; and writing at all crazy hours in between to finish book three. I really got a thirst for it. I was saving money to financially support the dream but was so shocked that no one was buying my ebooks. How didn’t they know how awesome they were? What was happening? How do I fix it?

That’s when I was lucky enough to be approached by my personal assistant, Julia who contacted me via Facebook. She said that she was a new PA and was interested in my books and working together. I simply asked, what was a PA (Personal Assistant)? It blew my mind that authors had personal assistants. Julia lives in good old South Carolina in the USA which was so far and what I thought was out of reach. I agreed because she understood the ins and outs of what was happening on Facebook. And I had no damn clue!

Facebook became my first major social media account and where I obtained my first clump of readers and friends that I’m still in touch with internationally to this day. I attended Facebook Author Takeover’s which offered me an hour at a time online to share my books and giveaways. I realised how much I loved sharing my different world’s to people who cared about what I was doing and was excited by who I was and what I did! It took me in total a year to stop saying that I was just a writer and was officially an author. I really lacked in confidence because I still wasn’t sure if people liked my books. I was however, determined!

I found on google, that a book signing event was happening on the Gold Coast and decided to go as a signing author. I was so nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect or if anyone would like what I had to offer.

At this point I had been heavily relying on my google abilities to see what websites I could offer sale and discounted promotions for my ebooks and obtaining new readers. I met some amazing readers that day but what I took from that even more, was interacting with other authors. I quickly learnt the value of networking and being honoured to meet like-minded creatives. Still living in a country town my creative spark was starting to weigh on people who I considered friends at the time. I could see a shift as people didn’t understand why I was so ‘obsessed’ with writing and why I was thinking up such large and unimaginable dreams.

My parents were proud of me and my accomplishment but still wanted me to be stable and work hard in my full-time job. I was still young and cared for my parents’ opinions. Let’s be honest, who really stops?

At the end of 2014 and  at the tender age of nineteen I experienced fatigue for the first time. I had a mental break down and quiet honestly, was a hot mess. My feet and face had begun to swell, and I wasn’t getting much sleep. I’m a very driven and focused person, so I was lacking in the balance of rest and play as well. I had also been vegetarian for a year which wasn’t ideal for my body apparently. I thought I was almighty and learnt the very hard way that I was far from. In consequence, I left my full-time job and could only manage a few hours at the Fish and Chip shop.

This went on until the end of 2015. I was still writing and publishing and now actively searching for more events to attend so I could network and create as much opportunity for myself as possible. I started networking online by friend requesting other authors and talking with them online. In 2015 and with negative personal events happening in my life, I decided to leave my long-term partner so I could discover what kind of woman I was on my own. I had been seventeen when we first started dating, so I had never been on my own nor did I know who I was as an independent woman. With a heavy heart, I left my five-year love behind and a week later moved to the city with my belongings, two cats and dog.

Those four months were absolute hellish as I rented out my own townhouse and searched for work. I had never lived on my own, was dealing with a heart-breaking split, depression and the hope that my saved money would last out until I found work. This was one of the hardest and transformational moments of my life.

Eventually I obtained work and within four months was promoted into the State Transport Management role. It had been the largest role I’d obtained in my career and boy did it keep me on my toes! I was working 60 hours on average, as well abiding by a strict diet and work out resume. I was still writing and working online. By now I had learnt that there were services online that could help me promote my books and I started Guest Speaking at more local rotaries. I organised with bookstores to set up a table during the day and sat in front of store with my books. I would talk to customers and signed copies that they would purchase. Some days were great in sales and others I sold nothing but my charming smile, that clearly failed me on the day.

By putting myself out there and into environments I wouldn’t usually, I was meeting some great people who offered me both small and great opportunities. A lot of them saw this youngster with burning flames in her eyes, I’d like to think I’m the same now but perhaps a little wiser. I certainly don’t have the same energy now!

That’s when I set my sights on something larger and a challenge that would entirely put me out of my comfort zone. I googled book signing events in the USA and decided to organise my first International tour. There were two book signing events and I organised personally to set-up and sign at three bookstores. I did this by researching local areas and bookstores; finding their emails and sending them a letter as to who I was and my intentions of my signing tour. At this point I had fatigued again (I really suck at the work life balance thing) and pushed through to the most epic adventure I had yet been on.

It went for three and a half weeks and I made sure to make lots of friends and introduce myself to majority of the authors and readers at those events. I’m naturally an approachable energetic person, so making friends is already my ‘thing’, so it makes networking very easy. I’ve always lived by the belief that you don’t know who you will meet and what piece of knowledge or opportunity they may be able to provide. Everything happens for a reason, so I make sure to put myself out there as much as possible.

I blasted my social medias with all my videos and photos and came to the realisation that it wasn’t just my books that people liked but that I was likable as well… no I was something more than that… I was my own brand. I realised that people wanted to see and fall in love with me as much as they did the books. That realisation was a bit odd at first because I still considered myself as a ‘weird’ person but realised that people weren’t judging me negatively because of that, if anything it was giving them an intro into the worlds I was creating. I had fallen in love with so many of my inspiring authors but never thought that I could be the same! Until that trip, I realised that people were starting to approach me for advice and mentorship.

I often did Q & A’s online, author posts, snippets of my work on blogs. I did a lot of ground work at the start with bloggers and approached them with giveaways for their pages. I began relationship building because I needed the support and to get my name out there. They would share with their readership which could extend my protentional customers/ readers.

I came back shortly after that with the aspiration to move to the USA. A lot of my readers lived there and there were a lot more book signing events that I could attend. So, I worked hard for the next few months trying to figure out how I could get a visa and make the transition. After all I had a home, animals and a life in Australia with a successful career in logistics.

One thing I am grateful for is that I learnt fast one of the greatest intels I think anyone can acknowledge in life; despite making a descent salary and being financially stable that it didn’t necessarily provide happiness. In 2017 and fatiguing once again (I know what you’re thinking, and I am thinking the same! Just learn how to balance Kia, it’s not that hard damnit!) I quit my job, sold up my furniture, left my townhouse and left for America. I had a three-month holiday visa and the intention to stay with friends and travel. I had the ambition to obtain work so I could achieve a work visa. The shining bright lights of the dream were calling, and I was optimistic. Perhaps too optimistic. Life would not be so easy.

I was unsuccessful and confused as to how I could come back empty handed when I was so driven to achieve that one goal. I was being offered jobs, but the visa process was too tricky. I came back and did training consultancy for my previous work. I still had my focus on the USA but after being knocked down so many times; and I mean, I cannot express to you how many different angles and ways I tried- I questioned if I was being a dreamer or simply arrogant. Four months later I decided to travel to the UK and Europe for six weeks to see if perhaps, I could call somewhere there home. There was such a large market in the UK but one that I wasn’t hitting. My readers were mostly in the USA and Australia. I wanted to move to a different country so I could expand my readership and network as well as grow personally. I had the most amazing trip and fell in love with Edinburgh, Scotland.

I came back to Australia and picked up work where I had left it, deciding on what way I would go with my life and ambition. While travelling my book production slowed as I tried to find stability in my life. My good friend and Australian Distributor, Catherine suggested I apply my recent release, The Shadow Minds Journal to The Australian Publishers Association who would represent 50 books at the Frankfurt Book Expo (Which is one of the largest in the world!) It would be showcased on a shelf where all sorts of people within the industry would see it and if they showed interested, they would share their contact details so I could reach out to them afterwards. There was about 1,500 entrants and I was lucky enough to be chosen and represented. It was a sum amount of money, like most things within this industry. With that said I’ve always told myself that it was an investment on myself and future goal. It’s why I’ve always worked so many hours and saved so much. So, I could put my books and myself out there.

I was lucky enough to have 18 various contacts interested, ranging from personnel’s in film and tv rights, publishing house interests, agencies, distributors etc. Six months later and I’m still waiting to hear back on some opportunities from that book event. There is such a large waiting game on a lot of things within this industry and that is just how it is built. As they say: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, nor is an authors career or empire.

I had a decision to make. I was offered an unpaid internship in film in LA that I would have to pay for every month and pay thousands more for the visa process or move to the UK on a two-year visa (still expensive but not as much). I thought long and hard and went with what I always go by- my instinct.

Amongst this with itchy feet I decided to take the leap and move to Edinburgh, Scotland.

I have now been here for about six months, enjoying the change and opportunity that I’ve provided for myself to really believe in myself. Moving to an entirely different country is difficult but now having my footing; my writing and marketing has my full attention once again.

I am now pitching to agents and traditional publishing houses because although I’ve loved my journey thus far and it has pushed me to be the independent woman I’ve grown into; I realise I need a relationship with someone who has the experience and contacts that I don’t. I want to distribute wider and optimise every experience I can as an author but also a person trying to make the most of my life.

So basically, you are up to date on who, what, when, how and why I’ve been writing for the last ten years and how my focus as a published author for the last five years has shaped me into the woman that I am, today. I hope that you continue to join me in my exciting journey and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to send me a message. Thank you so much for your support and belief in me. You honestly have no idea how much I’ve relied on it on some days that were harder than others. You are amazing!!! xx

For you my dear,
Having built my author platform and brand for five years gives me a bit of a head start while approaching agents because they can see that I’m not a ‘one hit wonder author’. This is a career for me and that’s what people within the industry want to see. I paid to pitch at the London Book Expo but also have a list of agents’ that I want to approach if that agency isn’t for me. They all have separate conditions and are very clear on their website as to what they expect from you and your pitch.

I’ve found the best form of marketing and reaching out to my audience is being authentic and publishing like I was talking to someone. They’re people too, with their own personalities so I don’t only promote my books but also things I find funny or links that will help upcoming writers/ authors.

I established my target audience originally from talking with readers online a lot. One thing I did notice though was that I couldn’t stereotype my target audience. I always thought majority of my readers were women and young adult. My opinion of that has since changed due to meeting readers in person and at signings. I get a better understanding as people physically approach my table as well.  I also have various genres so what I have in mind for their target is appropriate when it comes to sexual content. I ask myself, ‘if I were a mother, at what age would I let my child read this.’ I’ve learnt apparently, I would be stricter then some other mothers that I’ve met haha.

Self-publishing is a good option for writers who want to be in control of the entire process- I’ve really enjoyed it, but people need to understand that it’s a business as they go into it. If they lack in the ability to sell or showcase their product and themselves professionally they might not create the opportunity they will need to reach their goals. It’s also very expensive. With that said, the indie author world is very supportive, and we have facebook groups and such where we assist one another and provide mentorship. I’ve tried all types of marketing and have heavily depended on social media marketing, not only for my books but also my own adventures that people follow. I use a lot of online promotional sites to get my work out there and often offer Instagram influencers/ readers paperback copies of my books to post, review and read. There are heaps of articles and websites that offer suggestions, but I’ve always looked at my marketing as a business approach. You must consider what is financially appropriate (There are a lot of rip offs out there!) and what might assist in my marketing campaign and goal at the time.

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