Six years ago today, I was panicking.

I’d finished What Happens in New York and there were just three days to go until it went live.

Three days until the launch.

I had no idea what to expect.

I was terrified of sharing my book baby with the world.

And three days later, none of it went how I expected it to.

The morning of

If I remember rightly, I booked the whole week of the launch off so that I could really focus on it.

In hindsight, I’m not sure how productive that was. I didn’t sleep much but I was too restless to do anything productive – or know how to handle that restlessness.

As the clock struck midnight, a couple of my friends shared screenshots of What Happens in New York downloading on to their Kindles, congratulating me.

When the sun was up, Notts TV (a local TV station), wanted to interview me.

I was terrified; I hated being on video.

But I went and did the interview, stumbling over my words and worried I wouldn’t be ready for the 7pm launch in time.

(Even though the interview was at lunch time. I’m not sure why I was worried about this, either.)

I still don’t know if the interview went out. I was too terrified to look.

That evening

I was a mess that evening.

My friend and I had distributed posters all around town, marketing the book.

Sadly, they didn’t make much of a difference. There were only a handful of people who showed up, and most of them already knew me.

Nowadays, I know how hard it is to get people to an in-person event.

At the time, I’d had no idea.

I did some readings and talked about my process, sold a couple of copies, then breathed.

I was so anxious I was talking even faster than usual. My body was filled with adrenaline, both enjoying the moment and being utterly terrified of it.

The following days

This is the bit that often surprises people.

After publishing What Happens in New York, I became really depressed.

It wasn’t the sales that bothered me. I just felt kind of lost.

I’d spent a whole year pouring everything I had into the book, spending every spare moment I had on it.

It wasn’t just the writing. It was the rewriting, the editing, the copyediting, the proofreading, the cover design, the poster design, the poster distribution, the launch event organisation…

There was so much to do that once it was all over, I felt empty.

I was already working on the next book, What Happens in London, but I was struggling with it. I wasn’t sure why.

It took a while for me to get out of my slump. That’s part of why there was a year exactly between the releases of books one and two. I just needed time.

In the end

I’d expected the world to change after I published my first book, but I’ll be honest with you: it didn’t.

I returned to my day job having sold copies mostly to people I already knew.

This didn’t change much until I was 4 or 5 books in, in 2019.

In fact, my nonfiction outsold my fiction until I released What Happens in Barcelona, despite the fact I only had one non-fiction book out at the time.

I’m not sharing this to make you feel sad, or ask for pity. I’m merely sharing the realities of publishing.

All roses have their thorns, and I happened to come across more thorns before I got to the flowers.

Lessons learned


Indie publishing really is a long-term journey. One book is unlikely to move mountains, especially if you don’t do your genre research first. (I really hadn’t. And at the time, my genre wasn’t popular.)

Promo techniques

Regardless of how you publish these days, you need to know how to market yourself. Traditional methods, like posters in cafes and shops, just don’t work that well anymore.


There have been plenty of times over the last six years where I’ve almost given up. And I share that with you because I want you to know it’s normal to question yourself and the life you’ve carved out for yourself.

Things often don’t go according to plan. It’s ok to reevaluate when that happens.

Publishing, and my chronic health issues, have taught me more about myself than almost anything else in life.


When I committed to writing and publishing What Happens in New York in a year, I’d had no idea just how much there was to learn, or how tight of a deadline that was when there are so many foundational skills indie authors need.

Now that I know what I’m doing, it’s more than doable. That’s why I publish 4-5 books a year. But back then it was a massive mountain to climb.


The biggest change I saw after publishing my first book was in the way the people around me treated me.

Some of my friends distanced themselves from me.

Others were more than willing to help.

Some saw me as more able to see a project through to the end, after the trail of unfinished or abandoned projects I’d left behind me.

Even now, I find what I publish – and how I describe what I publish – affects how people see me. It’s really annoying that, even in 2022, people take me more seriously as a fantasy author over a women’s fiction author. An author is an author, and regardless of what genre someone writes in, they deserve respect for the time and energy they put into their stories. Especially if they’re indie and do it all themselves.

How does it really feel to publish your first book?

It’s anticlimactic.

It’s a process that will totally change you but not impact the people around you in the slightest.

The people whose books sell a gazillion copies on their first day are the outliers. They’re often the ones who already have massive platforms through social media (often TikTok these days), YouTube, podcasting, or something else.

I’m not big enough for my content to change the world now, let alone six years ago.

Publishing your first book is a lot of work. But it’s also a hell of an achievement. It’s one that requires celebrating because most people never get there. It’s a way to show yourself – and the world – that you really are good enough. And when you set your mind to something, you really can do it.