I left my job to write and found my reward at the end of 'Grace's Rainbow'
A YEAR ago I made what was to me a brave decision to self-publish my first novel 'Beyond Grace's Rainbow' as an eBook.
I had written the first shaky draft a few years previously, but left it gathering dust under my bed. I was a busy Sales and Marketing Manager for an American multinational and there never seemed to be a moment to concentrate on writing.
After I had my two children – Amelia (3) and Nate (22 months) – and with the support and encouragement of my husband Roger, I decided to it was time to make a concerted effort to live my best life, doing something that I was passionate about – writing.
Now a stay-at-home mother, I would write, rewrite and edit late at night, once the children were asleep.
Once I had a manuscript, I researched my options – look for an agent, go straight to a publisher, or self-publish. I took the third option.
I made the bookcover myself; keeping costs down and, on August 12, 2012, 'Beyond Graces Rainbow' hit the virtual book shelves.
The reaction was extremely positive and for about two weeks it was on the eBook bestsellers lists on both iBooks and Amazon.
I must stress though that self-publishing is not for the faint hearted. It takes an incredible amount of work to find ways to get your novel noticed. Book reviewers in the main don't want to read self-published books.
But I worked hard at marketing my book and as the five star reviews on Amazon and iBook's started to come in, book reviewers began to take notice.
I started looking for an agent and in January 2013, I signed with the Trace Literary Agency. The fact that a literary agent believed in both my writing and me was a big milestone.
I got cracking on my second book, 'Sleep of Dreams', while my agent Tracy Brennan went looking for a publisher.
In March 2013, I was nominated in the Kindle category of The People's Book Awards and, to my delight, I won.
This win really helped give 'Beyond Grace's Rainbow' some much-needed exposure and Tracy began to get some early murmurs of interest from publishers.
One thing any aspiring author should understand though is that this industry moves slowly.
So as I waited for a response, days became weeks, which in turn became months. The silence felt deafening.
Then one afternoon in June, while on a short break in the Glen of Aherlow, an email arrived from HarperCollins, saying: "I absolutely loved Carmel's charming, emotive voice and the story's premise and would love to chat about this further with you."
I can remember whispering to my husband, "Is this good news? Is it an offer?" We decided after much deliberation that it wasn't bad news and after clarifications were made by Tracy, a further email was received saying: "I just realised that I didn't mention in my first e-mail that we would love to offer Carmel a two- book contract if you do decide Harper Impulse is the right fit for you.'
The moment I read "two-book contract" I actually whooped out loud – so much so that my two children started whooping too and very soon we were doing our own style of conga singing, "Mummy's got a contract, Mummy's got a contract, la la la, la la la."
One month later, 'Beyond Grace's Rainbow' has had a little makeover.
A beautiful new cover, a few re-writes which include an additional chapter and once again it will hit the virtual book shelves on September 12, my publication day, but this time with the support and backing of an International publisher.
It will be available in paperback later this year, which will be another conga moment for all our family and 'Sleep of Dreams', will be published in December 2013, both as an eBook and in paperback.
I am now working on book three, which is a sequel to 'Beyond Grace's Rainbow', so my two book contract has already been extended.
I can't stop smiling.
In one year I have gone from being a self-published author to having a publishing deal with HarperCollins. Cliché, but dreams do come true. It really doesn't get much better than this.
Well, I won't say no to being No1 in the bestsellers charts!