It’s time for another fascinating ‘path to publication’ story. This week Kerry Watts, the author of the popular Heartlands series published by Bookouture tells us about her writing journey. Have you always wanted to be a writer, Kerry?
It hit me when I read Isla Dewar’s book Giving up on Ordinary that writing was something I would love to do. I couldn’t explain why. It was just a feeling. Perhaps it was the way that book hooked me and pulled me away from the stress of becoming a single parent. I have since told Isla Dewar on Twitter the effect her book had. The year was 1998 and my daughter was just a toddler the time so whenever she was asleep or later at nursery I would scribble a few words and hoped that they were interesting and entertaining. In the beginning they were neither. The feeling became a passion and I wrote daily. I submitted so many short stories to a leading fiction magazine that they must have been sick of hearing from me by the time I stopped. Those were the days of sending hard copies with a stamped address envelope. My decision to give up came alongside the sudden death of my mum in 2004 and my hopes of becoming published took a nosedive along with my confidence. It turned out to be postponed rather than giving up. Over the following years I dabbled a bit in novel writing, short stories and I even had a go at a couple of scripts but rejection became a daily routine. But something inside me couldn’t shake the writing buzz.
Fast forward to 2015 and I happened upon a post on Facebook from a crime fiction author called Louise Mullins and I plucked up the courage to send her a message with lots of questions about becoming published. I was in the middle of yet another attempt at a novel as well as a short kids book about a rescue dog nobody wanted. Without her I would not be sitting here today writing this piece for this blog. It was the advice she gave me that lifted my confidence to the point I had a go at self publishing which I will admit I made lots of mistakes in. One of which was editing. Or the lack of proper editing. I learned several lessons along the way and was lucky enough to be taken on by a couple of indie publishers as a result. Sales over the past few years have not been huge but those who have read my books seem to like them and help promote me to others on social media.
It was through this reader support I had the confidence to keep going and be more ambitious with my choice of publishers. I knew I wanted increased success and knew that only a bigger, more influential company could help me reach my ultimate goal of becoming a bestselling author. So I submitted a crime fiction thriller I was very excited about to Bookouture. Sadly they rejected that one but it did find a home and The Reckoning is very popular with readers who have reviewed it. I didn’t let that stop me. I went for it again with another book. Rejection wasn’t going to stop me. This time I received an email asking for more time to read the manuscript. I said yes of course! After several emails and a phone call later I signed a contract to write three Scottish crime books for Bookouture. I still pinch myself just to make sure I’m not dreaming. Heartlands became a bestseller within days of release and I cried with happiness. My advice to new authors? Don’t give up.
What an amazing story, Kerry. You showed such determination and resilience to keep on writing. I’ve seen how popular the Heartlands series is. Congratulations.
Kerry Watts lives with her husband and son as well as a hamster called Buttercup and house rabbit named Domino. As well as writing, her other great passion is horse-racing. Watching a racehorse at full stretch thundering down the track at forty miles an hour has been known to move her to tears and for that she is unashamed. One day she hopes to own a grade 1 winning sprint filly.
She is also a self confessed tea addict. All of her books come to you courtesy of Tetley tea bags.
Instagram – kerrywatts_
Here are some of Kerry’s books.
You can purchase them here:
Remember to check in next week to read another ‘Path to Publication’ story.