The fact I can look on my bookshelf and see twenty full length novels is mind-blowing if I’m honest. There’s a part of me that is still the wannabe who’d have been happy with just one book with my name on the cover. I can remember those days so clearly. I both wanted it so much but never thought it would happen.  Luckily for me the voice that said ‘Don’t give up, you’ll regret it’ had a much louder bark than the part nagging me to get a proper job and stop being a stupid dreamer. I think working class writers have a much more pronounced sense of ‘sticking to our lane’ and we need a bigger push to dislodge us from it.

Author Milly Johnson Credit Roth Read Photography

Author Milly Johnson Credit Roth Read Photography

My whole existence was concentrated on getting that one book pushed out, so when the miracle occurred and it happened, I hadn’t a clue what to do afterwards. But publishers want longevity and reliability and I’d got in through the door and no one was going to chuck me back out so I got cracking. I used to think that first book deal was the pinnacle, but it isn’t. Getting a readership is the exciting part, and the letters asking when your next book is out.

This job doesn’t come with a handbook, you learn as you go along, wade through mistakes, pick up advice from seasoned writers. Some lessons are hard ie not everyone will like your book and bad reviews weigh heavy. You have to grow a backbone of steel, this really is not a job for the faint-hearted, it is not a level playing field and it is not a fair game. I’ve learned that the lowly interns of today are the commissioning editors of tomorrow and I’m always conscious that I have a whole team in the wings who allow me to take all the applause on centre stage so respect and thank yous are important. It’s not a job, it’s a vocation, it bleeds into your whole life. I’ve learned that I am an obsessive and rubbish at life/work balances.

It never gets any easier, I am just more aware of the pitfalls. I’ve had to learn to say no and learn my own worth because if I don’t value myself, no one else will. I’ve learned that I never stopped learning.

I’ve learned that I might have set off just to write entertaining stories but my words have changed some readers’ lives, I have their letters to prove it.

My career has grown steadily and surely thanks to an army of loyal readers and you can’t buy the support I get, from Yorkshire especially. Never diss your hometown; my community is the biggest PR tool I have.

I’m in my niche, I feel blessed, and proud that I kicked myself up the bottom to never give up and infuriating as this unstable, mad, business can be, I love it. But still that disbelief lingers that this is all really real.

Together, Again by Milly Johnson is published by Simon & Schuster in hardback, eBook and audiobook is out now.

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