Image courtesy of Jacquelyn Middleton
Award winning self-published author, Jacquelyn Middleton recently published her second book, “London, Can You Wait?”. It’s a sequel to her hit contemporary romance, “London Belongs to Me.” As much as Middleton may be a fan girl with certain movie and TV stars, that’s how this avid reader feels about authors. Even though I know Jackie, I still fan-girled a little when I got to speak with her about her latest release and what it was like to be a self-published author. I think that if you are someone who has written, published and promoted a book on your own, that too is a love story all of it’s own. It’s so much work, and there is so much of yourself invested in the process. Middleton is proof that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen.
Image Courtesy of Jacquelyn Middleton
1) Why write a sequel?
I really missed the characters and selfishly, wanted hang out with them a little bit more. I also received so many requests from readers wanting to know what happens next, so I thought, why not? London, Can You Wait? is technically a sequel, but it can be read as a standalone.
2) Will this be a series?
As of right now, London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait? will remain a duology. I’m currently writing my third book and while it’s not a sequel to my London books, it does follow the same time line and takes place in the same world, so characters from the other books may be known by the new characters and may appear. Which ones? I’m not saying! It also takes place in New York City, so it’s fun to explore one of my other favourite cities in a literary sense. I did toy with writing a third London Belongs book because I was so sad when I finished writing London, Can You Wait?—it was like losing a bunch of friends—but I didn’t want to ruin a book thing. Sometimes, no matter how much fun you had, it’s time to leave the party.
3) What was the process like writing your second book versus your first?
4) What was it like to market the first book on your own?
It was a lot of work, but it was also nice to have control over everything! Between my husband Darren and I, we updated the website, sent out books and bookmarks, and worked with bloggers, BookTubers, and Instagram’s “Bookstagram” community to get the word out. I love giveaways and do a lot of them as a way to reach out to readers and give something back. All our hard work was worth it. Within its first year, London Belongs to Me sold several thousand copies, which is huge for an independent author’s debut. People from all over the world—Japan, Puerto Rico, Columbia, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Mexico—have read London Belongs to Me and it’s still selling, which makes me very happy, and most of those readers are continuing Alex and Mark’s journey with London, Can You Wait?—it’s so wonderful to see.
5) What do you attribute the success of your books to?
I think the covers pull people in. People love them and so do I. They’re stunning. That’s one of the great things about being an indie, you can create your own covers (traditionally published authors don’t have much, if any, say in their covers). Darren and I worked together on both covers. I found photos I loved and he did all the magic with licencing and photoshop, and the work paid off—there have been over 300 photos posted on Instagram and that number keeps growing weekly. Once people bought the books and went beyond the covers, I think they loved Alex’s story. Who doesn’t like a fish out of water story about an underdog and her friends—with a swoony, angsty romance? With London, Can You Wait? you also learn much more about Mark and his family as well as Lucy, Freddie and the gang. People who love the books really love them and their word of mouth and wonderful reviews have been so helpful. I also received rave reviews from Kirkus Reviews and RT Book Reviews which gave the industry’s thumbs up which is always amazing to have.
6) Which book release was more nerve-wracking?
London, Can You Wait? for sure. With the first book, it was a personal challenge—write a book and publish it, see if I could do it. The process was fun and there really wasn’t any pressure. No readers knew me, I didn’t have people to please. With my second book, I had new personal pressure to make London, Can You Wait? even better than London Belongs to Me. I learned so much writing London Belongs to Me—what worked, what didn’t, what to change for next time—I think my second book was all the better for it. Plus, with my second book, I had readers waiting and there was pressure (from myself) to give them something they would enjoy.
7) I know that you are writing a third book. Do you feel more confident as a writer now?
Yes and no. I write for myself first. If I’m happy with what I’m writing, I hope that someone else will enjoy it too. None of my books are perfect, but I know that I’m evolving in the right direction. A good review, like one I received on Kirkus, is wonderful validation, but ultimately, I have to be happy with the book first or I’m not going to put it out there. I do think that London, Can You Wait? is better written than London Belongs to Me, but I love them both so much.
8) How much attention do you pay to negative reviews?
I have learned that if I read a bad review, it ruins me for writing that day, so I don’t read them anymore. My books have received more positive reviews than negative ones, but you can see tons of good reviews and you’ll still focus on the bad one. It’s human nature. I have spoken to really successful authors for my Authors Celebrating Authors feature on my website and they have told me the same thing. They avoid reading reviews too, or have someone else look at them and then report back!
9) How much editing was involved in “London, Can You Wait?”
I had more beta readers for London, Can You Wait? and I hired a professional editor who polished it all up. I only did one or two rounds of edits. It didn’t take too long at all.
10) Back to the book… You received a lot of positive feedback on your heroine, Alex Sinclair’s anxiety and making it such an important part of the plot. As an author, how does it feel to make such a big impact on people?
I like that my books are making it easier for people to talk about anxiety and panic attacks. I have had readers email me and say that my books helped them realize they weren’t alone and it’s okay to have anxiety, that they shouldn’t be ashamed. As an anxiety sufferer myself, that’s been the best thing about publishing Alex’s story. In many ways, parts of Alex’s story are my story especially with the anxiety arc. When I started writing, I really wanted to put a spotlight on anxiety and panic attacks, and try in a small way to break down the stigma that they have. Too often, people think anyone with a mental illness is weak, and that’s just not the case. Alex is actually a very strong, brave gal. She’s not weak because she has anxiety—her strength actually stems from it and all she has had to go through, and I hope her journey will help more people realize it’s okay to be open about mental health. We need to talk about it, share our experiences, and inform people who are ignorant about mental health. I’m so proud of Alex and who she has become. If she were real, I’d give her a huge hug.
11) How do you think that the characters grew in book two versus where they were in book one, or did their flaws continue to be an issue?
Characters must change or the book will be a bore, and my characters change a lot in London, Can You Wait?. It kicks off a year after London Belongs to Me, so the characters have already changed somewhat before you even start the first page. When I think back to my early twenties, there was so much growth and change at that age. All the characters have grown up a bit. They still love their fandoms but they also have jobs, relationships, and are trying to find their independence. I think their romantic attachments are more grown up too (this is my way of saving London, Can You Wait? is racier than London Belongs to Me!).
13) Give my readers your top picks for British snacks and candy?
- Cadbury Chocolate Buttons
- Cheese and Onion Crisps
- Jaffa Cakes
- Percy Pigs
- Pickled Onion Monster Munch
14) Cast the movie of this book!
I know who I would cast, but I never share that info! I want readers to cast the books themselves and I would hate to interfere with who they envision as the characters.