Friday, 20 May 2011

Getting Published in the eBook Revolution.

Hi, guys! My second blog already - amazing!

This is a bit of a one-of, more generalised subject. The next blog will be about a particular book/writer. (One-of is correct, by the way, not 'one-off,' in case you were thinking, wow, can't even spell right! It's a shortened form of 'one of these.') Moving on, then.

The amazing thing to me about having my book Belfast Girls accepted and published for the first time is that because of the eBook revolution I am selling many times more eBooks than paperbacks. A year ago, I hardly knew eBooks existed. Now, they are taking over the market, it seems.

I’ve been writing since my childhood, and enjoying writing, but it’s only recently that I’ve had a full-length novel accepted and published. I’ve had nearly fifty short stories published, which has been very encouraging, especially as several of them have won prizes or been short listed in major competitions. But my ambition has always been to have a novel out there, and after quite a few rejections, I’d begun to think I’d never reach my goal. It was when I heard about Night Publishing, a new publishing company, through a friend on FaceBook, that things started to happen for me. Bruce Esler, who had read my book Belfast Girls on the Harper Collins site and admired it, wanted to see the manuscript and so I sent it along and Tim Roux, his partner, agreed that it was something Night Publishing should take. Needless to say, I was over the moon!

Belfast Girls is the story of three girls growing up in the new, emerging Belfast, after the ceasefires, and of their lives and loves. It is also the story of the men who matter to them. It is a thriller, a romance, a comedy like most people’s lives. But it has, I hope, a lot more depth than that suggests. The three girls come from different religious backgrounds, and, starting off as childhood friends, they manage to hold on to that friendship in spite of everything. The plot includes kidnapping, drugs, high fashion, prison, and the spiritual awakening of one of the girls, glitter and danger side-by-side. This is a book that both men and women can enjoy and that holds something for them all. 

Growing up, as I did, during the troubles, I was very aware that all over the world there was a very simplistic view of what was happening in Northern Ireland, i.e. people seemed to believe that all Catholics thought one thing, and all Protestants thought something else, and that all Catholics hated all Protestants and vice versa. I knew that wasn’t true. It was so much more complex than that. Many on both sides of the divide were horrified at what was happening and only wanted peace and reconciliation. 

I wanted to write something to show, without lecturing, that a lot of ordinary people in Northern Ireland had no problem with each other it was just a small percentage who were fighting; and another relatively small percentage who supported them. By the time the book was finished, the troubles were over, so recently I rewrote it to reflect the same thing in the current climate. Of course, like any writer, I also just wanted to write a book, whatever it was about. I had various characters in mind from the start, and I wanted to develop their lives.

When I learnt that Night Publishing intended to sell mainly over the internet, I was a bit worried. How would this work out? Didn’t people mostly buy from actual bookshops? Would enough people be computer literate to know how to buy Belfast Girls? But I’ve found that I needn’t have worried there’s a swiftly growing audience, not only for internet sales, but over and above that for eBooks.

It’s been a great surprise and a delight to me to see my novel doing so well. When I first read a review by the Ulster Tatler which chose Belfast Girls as its Book of the Month in March, I couldn’t believe it. When I saw Belfast Girls listed as No. 54 in Women’s Literary Fiction on UK Kindle early in March, its first appearance in a top 100, I thought I must have misread the ranking, and even more so when the book went on to reach No 8. And when it reached No. 26 in Romance on USA Kindle, that was amazing. 

The final shock came when I heard I had won the Night Publishing Book of the Year Award. And yet, having said this, I’m daily hoping and almost expecting to see my book go up the charts even further and I’m so excited watching as it keeps on climbing. People are buying eBooks now, including my eBooks, by the bucketful!

You can buy Belfast Girls, the eBook, at



  1. So glad you joined the revolution, Gerry! The blog looks great. Hope your books does well.

  2. I hope to be right behind you - exciting times. It's hard to believe how fast ebooks have taken off - the old publishers are getting nervous.

  3. Chicki and KJ, thanks a lot for your encouragement and support. Well, that's what friends are for, right?

  4. I know that Night writers are very happy to be published by Night, but there's an interesting article on e-books and going it alone in this Sunday's NY Times Book Review. I've written a blog post on it and my own advice (for what's worth) to anyone planning to self-publish an e-book. It's relevant to you I think as well because it talks about print runs and whether or not they are even worth risking.

  5. Marion, thanks for the comment and the encouragement. I'm not sure if you knew that Night Publishing works on a print on Demand basis. I enjoyed your article very much. You make a lot of good points. I've posted the link to it on FB and Twitter, and will be looking out for more. Well worth reading!

  6. Great blog, honey. Hey you can turn your hand to anything! Onward and upward!!! xx

  7. Thanks, Errol/Simon! From the brilliant author of the first class thriller Black Shadows, that's a comment worth having!