February 29, 2012
Seeing as it is the rarest date in the calendar, it seems as good a time as any for this to come out…
Somewhere around the middle of April 2011, I started writing Locked In. At that time, I had no plans to release it as it was only ever a bit of a challenge to myself to see if I could create something.
Ten and a bit months on, there are three self-published books in the Jessica Daniel series, I have had the number one book in the UK, been Amazon’s No.1 author for the final part of 2011, and sold over a quarter-of-a-million books.
Not bad for under a year’s work!
I didn’t self-publish for any reason other than I figured I had nothing to lose. I didn’t hawk the books unsuccessfully around publishers and I was never turned down. Most importantly, I never set out to “be” an author. Most of this has happened accidentally through word of mouth and readers’ support.
But what did begin to happen was that agents and publishers began to pay attention to me.
I will spare you all the ins and outs for now but, with that in mind, I have some pretty big news:
I have agreed a six-book deal with Pan Macmillan for the rights to the Jessica Daniel series.
First the bad news: Jessica Daniel book four: Think Of The Children will not be released until February 2013.
I know a lot of you reading this will be disappointed by that. I have had so many people email and tweet me asking about the release date. It’s been overwhelming, humbling and incredibly flattering. I’ve had emails from teenagers all the way up to people who are retired. From people in the UK, to Australia, Canada, Greece, the Ukraine, Spain, South Africa and all sorts of other places in between. It’s blown me away. So I understand the wait is a long one – but there are large benefits too.
Firstly, I was talking to Pan Macmillan before any of the publicity happened. They aren’t people who jumped on a bandwagon looking to exploit me or, far more importantly, the character of Jessica.
They are investing heavily in the series and want to expose Jessica to a far wider audience. I’m not naive – I realise I wouldn’t be in this position if I hadn’t sold so many copies – but I also know they have read the books and “get” the character.
As part of the deal, Macmillan will re-release Locked In, Vigilante and The Woman In Black towards the end of 2012. They will be re-edited and tidied up – then published as ebooks with new covers and branding – and as paperbacks too, including WiB for all the people who have asked me about that.
This is the first big benefit of working with a publisher.
I realise the books aren’t perfect in their current form because I don’t have the access to the same copy control and editing processes that publishers do. On my own, I can compete in terms of storylines and price – but I can never match the quality of product.
But this does take time, so it isn’t just about editing and releasing book four. Macmillan will be editing and releasing four books in around 12 months. That should hopefully tell you how much they want to build the character – they are putting a lot of effort and expense into this. This type of six-book deal for a “nobody” like me is absolutely unprecedented in the publishing world. They really want to make it work – and they really like Jessica.
What it should also mean is that, roughly this time next year, you should all have a professionally-edited Think Of The Children which you can read and – hopefully – enjoy without being put off by my odd typo or strange turn of phrase.
The other benefit is that, from then, there should be a regular schedule. Book five, provisionally called Up In Flames (previously Playing With Fire), will be out the following summer, with book six – Thicker Than Water – approximately six months after that.
If they go well, there will probably be more. I still have a big pad of ideas and, crucially, a long lead time.
I have had lots of people ask me about audio books and/or television adaptations, etc. The chances of either of those happening are vastly improved by this deal. Previously, there would have been almost no hope of that occurring. This means greater exposure and more awareness.
Also, this really isn’t about the money. I won’t go into the complexities of royalty arrangements and regularity of payment and so on – so you will have to take my word for it. If it was only about the money, I would have been better off releasing Think Of The Children on the back of all the publicity from Amazon earlier this month.
I promise you this is about the quality of the product, the long-term benefit to the character and the passion of the people at Pan Macmillan.
I know there is a wonderful community of people who like Jessica, Dave, Iz, Garry, Hugo, Caroline and everyone else. I know you want to know what happens next in her story. I promise you I have made this decision to try to benefit everyone in the long-term. I am as disappointed as you – probably moreso – that you’re going to have to wait for what I know is a long time. I want you all to find out what happens to Jessica next and I assure you there are some moments in book four and five that you’ve all been asking and speculating about.
I just hope you can stick with me for 12 more months and then we will be on a regular schedule.
In the coming days, if there is interest, I’ll post a Q&A on here to answer any other questions you may have. Feel free to email me or tweet me anything you want to know and, if I can, I’ll post all the replies next week.