Today we welcome Jules Wake to the blog. Jules is another of the talented contenders for this year’s Joan Hessayon Award.
Congratulations on graduating the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Can you tell us when you first decided that you wished to become a romantic novelist?
I remember quite clearly the moment, age of 12, when I decided I would write a book one day. Of course one day didn’t materialise until I was in my thirties and I was given six months gardening leave. It never occurred to me write anything but romance. Looking back now, what I wrote then was laughable … despite being an avid reader, I didn’t have a clue! Luckily Melanie Hilton came to talk to the writers’ group I’d set up and told us about the NWS – that was the real turning point for my writing.
How many years were you a member of the NWS scheme and did you submit a different book each year? Which year’s book did you graduate with?
I was a member for six years, submitting five different books in that time. Ironically the very first book I submitted, which got a second read, was the one that got published first. Despite writing another four books, I never gave up on that one. I rewrote it five years later to target a specific publisher, and having learnt so much more about writing, I was able to improve it further.
How did you find your publisher?
Through being a member of the RNA and networking at the parties and going to the conference, I heard about Choc-Lit. Having met a few of their authors on and off-line, I read their books and really liked the production values of the paperbacks they were producing at the time.
Promotion is a big part of an author’s working life. How did you promote your novel?
I’d already built a bit of a profile on Twitter, so I used that but tried not to do the ‘buy my book’ thing. I’m a big believer in a picture is worth a 1,000 words, so created a couple of Infograms and used those on social media. I also did several blog interviews, again trying to approach each one with a different creative hook to make them stand out.
What has happened to you as an author since that first sale?
I signed my publishing contract after I’d signed up for the NWS, so could still submit a manuscript. This received the best review ever with my reader urging me to find an agent. To my great delight, Broo Doherty at the David Hedley Literary Agency took me on and she sold my book From Italy With Love to HarperImpulse. Having someone who is enthusiastic and supportive about your work has been such a revelation.
How did you celebrate your first book sale?
I phoned Donna Ashcroft, fellow NWS buddy, She has been with me every step of the publishing journey and her support has been unconditional. With every rejection, she has encouraged me to go on. I think we probably shared a bottle of bubbly… but then we do that frequently!
Since the age of four when my Dad first taught me to read, I’ve been an avid reader and my idea of hell is being stuck somewhere without a book. I studied English Literature at the University of East Anglia, sadly a time before creative writing was offered to undergraduates. By day I’m a School Business Manager, champion shirker of housework, world class jelly-herder, mother to two amateur thespians, one of whom is also an aspiring rock star, and married to Nick, who keeps the family supplied with hair products and wine. I earned my writing stripes in public relations writing incredible fiction about the merits of lipstick and organic bacon.
Thank you, Jules, and good luck with your writing career.