Nov 22

THE BUSINESS OF BOOKS: GUILDING THE LILY – Jane Cable meets Book Guild author Sally Jenkins

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How much of your working life does the business of books take up?

Around 40% of my working life is spent on writing and writing-related activities. I work for a multinational IT consultancy three days a week which, in theory, leaves two days for the business of books. In reality, domestic trivia eats into those two days but I try to make up that time on a Saturday morning when I can, plus if I’m aiming at a deadline I will squeeze in an hour’s writing before or after the day job.

What’s your business model to earn a living from writing?

Like most writers, I can’t earn a living solely from writing, hence the three days working in IT. The money I earn from writing comes from several sources, some passive, such as royalties (which I’d like to increase!), and some from sources that require active input. My best-selling ebook is Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners, which is a guiding hand for writers brand new to e-publishing. Earlier this year I updated the book to include some of Amazon’s latest offerings, such as publishing a paperback through Amazon KDP. I sell the occasional story or filler to women’s magazines (Tip: Take a Break are one of the best payers if you have an anecdote that fits their Letters Page). I give talks about my writing to groups such as the Women’s Institute and to libraries. Sometimes I’m paid for the talks (and if I’m really lucky I get a free dinner as well!) but they all give me an opportunity to sell paperback copies of my first grip-lit thriller Bedsit Three and my bumper Coffee Break Story Collection and also to collect email addresses of readers interested in hearing when my next book is out. I’d like to grow this side of the business in order to get a better return on the amount of preparation required to devise a talk. Recently I’ve also been asked to do Kindle and paperback formatting for writers self-publishing on Amazon for the first time. Currently I restrict this to straightforward text-only books but it might be something I choose to grow in the future if giving up the day job becomes a reality.

What do you write and what do you consider to be your major successes?

Over the last few years I’ve gradually moved from short stories to novels. I write grip-lit (psychological thriller meets commercial women’s fiction) and straight commercial women’s fiction. I was elated when Bedsit Three won the Ian Govan Award and, as a result, the novel was published in e-book and paperback format. Another highpoint was The Book Guild recognising the commercial potential of my second grip-lit novel, The Promise, and offering me a place on their partnership publishing program. The partnership means we both invest in the publication costs and The Book Guild’s marketing arm is behind me, selling into bookshops, generating media publicity etc. We share the royalties. The Promise will be published on 28th January 2018 and I’m very excited!

Tell me about your latest project.

I’m working on my third grip-lit novel. I’m fascinated by how past events can impact our current lives. For example, in Bedsit Three the upbringing of one of the characters drives his destructive behaviour. In The Promise there are serious repercussions for something the heroine did three decades earlier. In my current work-in-progress, the protagonist wants revenge against someone who stole his girlfriend when they were teenagers.


Sally Jenkins writes grip-lit and commercial women’s fiction. She lives with her husband in Sutton Coldfield and has two grown-up daughters. Find out more about Sally and follow her blog at https://sally-jenkins.com/ or follow her on Twitter @sallyjenkinsuk or on Amazon.