Romantic Novelists' Association

#IndieApril Author Interview: Sarah Scally

30 April 2024

We are delighted that you could join us to talk about your indie author journey. Could you tell us a little more about it? Why did you decide to go the self-published route? I’ve been writing stories for years and kept them all in a drawer, never for them to see the light of day!! In 2013 I did a ‘writing for radio’ course and loved it, so I entered a radio play competition which was run locally – and couldn’t believe it when I was chosen as one of two winners. The play was about a group of mismatched ramblers and the adventures they got up. Once the radio play aired, I kept thinking about the characters – coming up with more mishaps for them – so decided to continue their story. In 2019 I joined the RNA and was thrilled to be accepted into their NWS. I submitted the manuscript to the scheme, then rewrote large bits once I’d received the feedback, resubmitting it the following year. In between, I sent it to the Comedy Women in Print competition (CWIP) and was longlisted for their unpublished category, which was all very exciting! I then put it in a drawer and started another manuscript, the second in the series. I repeated the NWS process, putting it through the NWS and then once the feedback was good – again, two years later – I started to wonder what to do with both. I sent them off to some publishers but didn’t get very far, and then during lockdown I joined a webinar, which talked about self-publishing – so I thought I’d give that a go!

 What is the best part of being an indie author? I have total control over everything, and although it has been a very steep learning curve, with stresses along the way, I do enjoy most of the ‘business’ elements to it. It can also be much quicker to publish a book; my first came out last August, with the second due out 4th April.

What is the hardest part of being an indie author? One of the hardest parts for me is getting trusted feedback on my writing. So far, both books have been through the NWS but now I’m no longer in that (as I’m published) I’ll be on the lookout for lots of beta readers, or an editor to work with me. Also, being an indie author means that only half my time is spent creating (as the other half is taken up with publishing / publicity / interviews etc.) so that can be frustrating sometimes (particularly if I’m on a roll with a story idea)!

What does a typical day look like for you? I don’t really have a typical day as I fit the writing in whenever I can. I work four days a week for the NHS, so I carry a notebook with me to jot down scribbles and ideas, which I then convert to something more meaningful on my long weekends. I try to do a little every day, if I’m writing, otherwise I tend to forget where I am with the story, or characters names/ eye colour etc.!

Please tell us about your books. I like to write uplifting, multi-generational stories… always with a hint of romance!

‘The postcard in the window’ is my first book, and tells the story of Eddie Maguire, a sixty-five-year-old widow who has lost her zest for life. On a trip to the local shop, she spots a postcard in the window advertising the Happy Wanderers rambling group. Amir the shop assistant, who dreams of wild camping, thinks it would do her good to join but, not keen, Eddie promises to think about it. On a weekly call to her daughter, Eddie has nothing new to report. She wonders whether she should contact the Happy Wanderers, and thinking it might be fun, she decides it’s time for a new adventure.

‘It started with a shoe’ is the second book in the series, due out on 4th April. It tells the story of single mum Phoebe Ellis who is having a bad time; her boss is acting weirdly, and she’s passed over for a promotion for the second time. On top of that her car is on its last legs, the credit card company is after a payment, and she almost ruined her favourite shoes. On the plus side, she did meet Mike (her ‘shoe saviour’) and together with the Happy Wanderers Phoebe decides to uncover exactly what her boss is up to. But will she find out before everything crashes down around her – and more importantly, is Mike really who he seems?

How has being in the RNA helped you with your indie journey? The RNA has helped massively with my writing journey, and being a member means I can keep up to date with the latest developments in the publishing industry. There are training and development initiatives, along with the conference and 1:1 opportunities which are made available to members, along with social media groups where you can ask questions and pick the brains of people who are much further along in their careers. I also can’t rate the NWS highly enough. You are taken seriously as an aspiring author right from the beginning and the opportunity to gain honest, reliable feedback is invaluable.

What advice would you give to somebody who wanted to go the indie route? I’d suggest they research each element of what would be involved and consider whether they’d be comfortable doing it themselves (or who else to involve, to help them). For instance, I pay a company to design my covers, but a friend reads/edits each manuscript for me. There are some amazing resources available to tap into, such as YouTube and helpful groups on social media (RNA Indie chapter on FB) and the indie author, Joanna Penn, has a great podcast and website with loads of information. 

Can you tell us what you are working on now? I’ve currently got two manuscripts on the go:– one is the third book in the Happy Wanderers series and involves several of the group taking cookery lessons which, of course, leads to a number of disasters! The second manuscript is a comedy about Dorothy and her unlucky in love granddaughter, Jemima. Dorothy decides to act as matchmaker, and with members of the Blagmouth Bookworms (her local book club) they form a list of eligible batchelors to set up on dates with Jemima. What could possibly go wrong?

Let’s share the love! Can you recommend one other Indie book that you’ve read and tell us what you enjoyed about it? I really enjoyed Susan Buchanan’s Just One Day (Winter) – the characters were well drawn and very relatable (particularly the list writing). I definitely became invested in the characters! I know you said one, but I also enjoyed Karen Louise Hollis’s Welcome to Whitlock Close – great characters, and 80s nostalgia… perfect!

*Leaves to go and check out other indie authors! *

About the Author
Sarah lives on the south coast of the UK with her family and works for the NHS.

She has written in a freelance capacity for magazines and business journals and writes comedy short scripts collaboratively with two friends, which have been performed at arts centre and venues across the south.

In 2013 she won a competition to write a 45-minute radio play. This play was the beginning of ‘The Postcard in the Window’, and in 2020 it was one of twelve manuscripts longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print prize (CWIP) for an unpublished novel.

“It started with a shoe’, the second book in The Happy Wanderers series, was published in 2024.

Buy It Started with a Shoe

Buy The Postcard in the Window