One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot
From Dealing with the Dead to Hatching Happy-Ever-Afters
It feels like I have been a writer for as long as I can remember and, in some ways, that’s true. I was always the girl with her head in a notepad from a very early age. But it’s actually been nine years since I took the plunge, gave up my day job and began writing full-time as a romantic novelist.
And my job was about as far removed from romance as you could get. I was a Probate Practitioner, drafting wills and powers of attorney for the living and administering the estates of the deceased. More a case of dispatches instead of romantic matches!
So, how did I go from dealing with the dead to keeping love alive writing romantic fiction? The short answer is, I took a leap of faith.
Whilst working for the solicitors I self-published four novels in paperback via a website called Feed A Read and in ebook through Amazon Kindle. I spent every spare moment I had writing – there aren’t many moments when you work and have two children under five – and trying to connect with potential readers by building up my social media profile. Then, having visited my dad at his home in the US, I wrote a novel based around an ice hockey team in Michigan. A small and brand-new US publishing house I submitted to offered me my first traditional publishing deal and I was on my way! Except, I wasn’t quite earning enough to make a living…
The big leap of faith came when I had to make a decision about my career in Probate. As things stood, I would be spending every penny I earned on childcare through the long school holidays and it seemed crazy to work a job I didn’t love as much as writing, in order to fund someone else looking after my daughters.
So, in 2010 (nine years ago – remember!) I gave up my paralegal position and became a full-time author. And, to begin with, it was hard! I’m certain, in those first two years or so, my husband probably wished we’d made a different decision. One wage coming in was just enough but there wasn’t a lot left for treats. But, I was determined and I believed I had all the skills, in my storytelling and as a tour de force on Twitter! You shouldn’t direct sell on Twitter I’d hear people cry. No? Watch me! Selling books directly on Twitter and engaging readers with imaginative tweeting won me the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance. Never be afraid to market your books; just make it fun and focus on your audience because they are the important ones.
With that iron-clad determination and will to succeed I moved to HarperCollins’ new romantic imprint, HarperImpulse, for two books and then on to digital experts Bookouture. It was here I really found my happy place in writing romantic comedies – two books a year, one set in summer, the other a festive treat. My novel, Truly Madly Greekly, not only pushed my author visibility up several notches, it also kicked up my income – enough to call writing a proper wage. And my novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award.
After four books with Bookouture, I moved to Ebury at Penguin Random House and, for the first time, I saw my paperbacks on the high street and in the major supermarkets. Tesco and Asda took copies of Single for the Summer and Asda also took One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill. The Works followed up with these titles, plus a summer promotion saw some of my books in Aldi stores.
And then there was the rest of the world. I currently have books publishing in four other languages – German, Italian, Hungarian and Czech. Seeing your novels with different covers and foreign titles is always one of the biggest thrills. I also get so many readers from these countries emailing me, sharing gorgeous photos of my books on Instagram and asking for more stories in their language.
Now, as we come to the end of 2019, I am absolutely delighted to have joined Aria, an imprint of Head of Zeus. Having worked with quite a number of different publishers in those nine years, I can honestly say that the team at Aria are a dream to work with. It’s always amazing when you meet an editor who truly gets your work and wants to champion it to the top of the charts. I’m also lucky to have a superstar literary agent, Tanera Simons at Darley Anderson, who is my biggest supporter and has her finger on the pulse when it comes to finding new opportunities, nailing things down and going over all those contracts with a fine toothcomb.
So, having written nineteen books (and that doesn’t include the foreign translations!) I feel like I’m settling into this writing malarkey now! And it never gets old, or boring, it just keeps getting better. The fact I get to write stories for a living and share them with millions of readers is really the best of feelings.
So, my top tips for creating a career in writing are: –
- Never give up. Embrace change. Leap over hurdles. But be determined, always.
- Be authentic. Find your own voice and keep being you in your writing and on social media. Connections made online mean so much more if it’s the real you. Readers want to know what you’re reading/watching/having for dinner. Don’t say you love Love Island if you’d really rather be watching The Chase.
- After nineteen books, my writing has grown and strengthened (I hope!). Never be afraid of taking editorial advice even if it aches in the moment.
- Never stop loving your writing. If you lose the enjoyment you lose just about everything.
- The only way is up! From the very first word on the page, to reaching your first reader, the only way your writing journey should go is forward. Aim high!
(c) Mandy Baggot
www.mandybaggot.com – Website
@mandybaggot – Twitter
@mandybaggotauthor – Facebook
About One Christmas Star:
Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!
Her flatmate’s moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.
Disgraced superstar Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround. Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.
Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show. As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…
Order your copy online here.