In 1996, I had my first publication. I was 14 at the time, and my grandma announced that she’d submitted a poem that I’d written for her when I was 10, to a regional anthology. To my surprise, it was accepted. Roll on three more years, and I was studying my A-Levels at Tuxford Comprehensive, Nottinghamshire. I definitely picked the wrong ones, focusing on science and maths rather than the arts. I knew I wasn’t going to do well, and stopped trying, instead spending my time writing short stories for my friends. The first one of any length was a 30k word novella titled ‘Can’t Buy My Love‘. God knows where it ended up, it’s probably on an old floppy disk in my mum’s attic.
I didn’t do well in my A-Levels, and for a while I flitted around from job-to-job, trying to find my way in the world. I signed up to the RAF and lasted 10 weeks, with old injuries flaring up to the point that I was left with little option but to leave. I worked at MacDonalds, I worked as a waitress, I worked in a bakery, I worked in retail, and eventually settled into veterinary nursing (although I didn’t qualify). Through all of this, the one constant was my need to write. Poetry, short stories, and first chapters were scribbled down and typed out, but I didn’t do anything with them.
2007. I was living in Jersey with my husband, and was pregnant with my daughter. It was an horrendous pregnancy, filled with problems that culminated in girl-child being born 8-weeks premature with health complications. I was on bed-rest, and started to find things to fill my time. I kept writing. I started to knit. I signed up to the Open University and completed a certificate in Creative Writing. I discovered content mills.
Content mills are a debatable topic amongst writers. Some think they are terrible – you don’t get paid what you’re worth, you upload articles to websites without the guarantee of sales, and a lot of the time you end up giving away the rights to your articles. I started writing for Helium.com. I began uploading a few of my poems, and sort of fell into writing pet care and health articles. I started to do really well, at one point earning $900 a month in affiliate sales alone. Then I started to find flaws in other articles, particularly ones giving incorrect advice. I was approached by a channel manager and asked if I wanted to become a fact-checker. I jumped at the opportunity, and this eventually led to proofreading and training as an editor, before becoming a channel manager myself. It was a full-time job, and through it, I made some amazing contacts and sold articles to private magazines & e-zines. I started ad-writing. At the height of it all, I was making $2,500 a month. But, my creative writing was being affected.
In 2011, the site began to fail. It was sold to another company, and completely dissolved in 2012. This gave me the opportunity to focus on creative writing, and I wrote The Final Straight, followed by Seven Dirty Words and Four Letter Words. I kept up with my freelance writing & editing, although I found it difficult to find a site that worked as well as Helium.
Jump forward to 2019. I now have 11 books published, both self- and traditionally, with a bad experiment currently sat on KDP unpublished. I’ve also completed my degree in Arts & Humanities, with a pathway in English Language, gaining an Upper Second Class Honours. I’ve worked with editors and cover designers for almost 7 years, either freelance or provided by traditional publishing houses.
But none of this brings in as much money as I was earning when I was freelancing, and my bills continue to come in and expect to be paid.
I’m taking a break from writing romance this year, while I focus on my pen name – C.V. Leigh, and writing paranormal and fantasy novels. However, I still need to pay those damned bills. So, I have set up a few things to try and help raise much-needed funds.
EDITING & COVER DESIGN
A few years ago, I set up RW Literary Services but closed it down for a variety of reasons, which I wrote about on this blog. I’ve decided to re-open it, but with a few changes. I’m still offering blog spaces and reviews for free, but I have changed the prices, and now offer cover and graphic design as well. You can follow me on Facebook.
I’m still learning when it comes to cover design – I am not a trained digital artist. With a photographer for a husband, I have access to top-end editing software and unique photographs that I can use. All of this is reflected in the prices, keeping them low compared to more qualified and experienced cover artists… You get what you pay for!
I’ve also set up a Patreon site, originally under the name of C.V. Leigh, but now changed to RW Literary Services.
I’ve also gone back to freelance writing. I’ve currently uploaded all of my articles onto Dot Writer, which can be bought directly from them. The articles focus mainly on pet care and health, but I have also written about friendship, beauty & health, and financial issues.
Paying bills sucks. But, with any luck, I might be able to scrape through 2019 and enter 2020 with a successful business!