Best-selling Cork writer who is behind 31 novels shares secrets of her success

Cork writer Jean Grainger will be passing on tips on how to get published at a Kinsale literary festival next month
Best-selling Cork writer who is behind 31 novels shares secrets of her success

Jean Grainger, a former teacher and tour guide, who is now a best-selling author.

A FORMER teacher and tour guide who has gone on to become a best-selling author is sharing her knowledge at an upcoming event at the Kinsale Literary Festival.

Jean Grainger, who lives in Macroom with her husband and two youngest children, tells The Echo about her career and what budding writers can learn from her talk.

“When I wrote my first novel in 2011, I couldn’t get either an agent or a publisher and was convinced it was because the book wasn’t good enough,” Jean says. 

“I always smile when I hear authors interviewed who say they got so many rejection letters, I never even got one of those!

“But with the unrelenting support and encouragement of my late mother and my husband, I went to a course on self-publishing. I had assumed, like many people, that this route was a form of ‘vanity publishing’ if you like, but this was wildly off the mark.

“So I began the very steep learning curve of how to do this. It was daunting, and for a long time, stigmatised in a way, but to be honest, that isn’t something I paid much attention to then or now. I was just glad to have a way to get my books into the world.”

Jean has gone on to publish 31 novels, mostly historical Irish fiction, but some contemporary and mystery books as well. Her novels have been downloaded more than two million times. So she has considerable knowledge to share of what she describes as ‘the nuts and bolts of self-publishing’. She is aware some people have a jaundiced view of this type of publishing.

“What I would say to anyone who says there is no quality control in self-publishing, is that there most certainly is. It’s called the market.

“Some bad books are self-published undoubtedly, but the market will be very quick to react, and sales follow reviews, so as I say, the market decides if something has value or not. The gate-keepers of traditional publishing have their role of course, but they are not the only way.

“There are several fundamental things I wish I knew in 2011 that I feel might be of benefit to someone who is considering this type of publishing, so those are things I’m happy to share when I speak at Words By Water on October 2.”

But Jean’s advice is not limited to those interested in self-publishing; especially given the ever-growing role of social media in promotion.

“I think it’s becoming increasingly the case that all authors are taking more responsibility for their own marketing, social media presence, mailing lists and so on, and more and more of us, whether traditionally published or indie, need to learn how to do that, so I hope my talk will be of benefit to anyone at any stage of their writing career,” she says. 

“It’s daunting, I know, but there are any amount of wonderful resources available, and people to help, if you know where to look. I do know and I’m happy to share that information.

“In the U.S, where the ebook market is much bigger than in Europe, the opportunities are huge but so is the competition, so finding out how to publish the best book you can, and then how to market that book to reach your audience, is what I’ll be talking about.”

Jean’s writing has enabled her to live a live which will sound like the stuff of dreams for many writers.

“Telling stories for a living is something I never envisaged happening for me, but self-publishing has allowed that to be my life,” she says. “I travel a lot for research, my family and I spent a year driving around Australia researching a book in 2019, and now I own a publishing company where I have three full time employees and several contractors working with me on various aspects of the publishing business.

“I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned over the last 11 years that might save people falling into some of the pitfalls I did through trial and error.”

Jean Grainger is giving her talk in the Trident Hotel in Kinsale on Sunday, October 2 at 10.30am, as part of Words By Water, Kinsale Literary Festival.

You can book tickets for her event and others at wordsbywater.ie.

You can learn more about Jean and her books, which are available in all formats on Amazon, at www.jeangrainger.com.

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