The Books and Bakes Shop: Perry Green solicitor Elaine Walsh's debut novel in Amazon's Hot New Releases chart
When the Covid-19 crisis afforded a Perry Green solicitor an abundance of free time, she used the opportunity to make her literary debut.
Elaine Walsh's novel, The Books and Bakes Shop, published in mid-February, has since entered the Hot New Releases book chart on Amazon.
Her story is a contemporary romance set in a fictional seaside town in Suffolk. The story centres around Katie, who longs for love and a family but finds her hopes dashed after she splits up with her long-term boyfriend.
She inherits a run-down bookshop and, inspired by the taste of some locally-made cakes, she creates The Books and Bakes Shop. But it is not just a taste for cakes she develops – she also acquires one for Joe, a carpenter who renovates the shop. As she hopes to fulfil her dream, the unexpected arrival of her ex puts her chance of happiness in jeopardy.
Elaine, 58, who works as a risk and compliance solicitor for a law firm in the City of London said: “I’ve always loved contemporary romance novels and I decided a couple of years ago to have a go at writing my own book in my spare time."
She and husband David Calvert, a family portrait photographer, moved to the area from Wanstead, east London, nearly 18 years ago and share their countryside home with their tabby cat Freddie.
"We love this area, plus there are good commuter links in Stortford for when I have to work in London," said Elaine. "I write in a little summerhouse which has fantastic views of the countryside. I find that really helps with the writing process."
In 2005, she started volunteering at Much Hadham Forge Museum and, before the Covid-19 crisis, she was a member of Nuffield gym in Bishop's Stortford. When the first lockdown came into force, Elaine used the opportunity to complete her book.
"When the pandemic hit, I was able to concentrate more on getting the book finished," she said. "I’m really pleased with the result. I've been thrilled with readers' reactions and it's started to sell quite well – to the extent that it's now made Amazon’s Hot New Releases chart for contemporary romance. I’ve already had messages from readers asking if there's going to be a sequel!"
The publishing process was daunting yet exciting, said Elaine.
"As a fledgling author with a debut novel, I found that many traditional publishers will not accept direct submissions. Without an established name and following, it's quite a leap for an established publisher to take on a new author in such a popular genre as contemporary romance. I was approached by a couple of pay-to-publish organisations, but I wasn't prepared to go down that road."
Instead, Elaine reached out for advice. "I joined the Romantic Novelists Association. They have a brilliant community where members are full of encouragement. A lot of them promoted the benefits of self-publishing and that really appealed to me.
"It was quite a big learning curve, but the association's community and courses proved to be extremely helpful, plus I found some great information available on YouTube.
"I also discovered the importance of having a good cover. It's effectively your calling card. Buyers will often make their purchasing decision based on the cover.
"Through a friend, I was introduced to illustrator Emily Stalley, who did a great job for me. The illustrations are based on photos my husband David took in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where the story is based – albeit under the fictional name of 'Broxburgh'."
Elaine has already started on her next novel and is keeping the storyline under wraps, but it will be part of what she calls ‘The Broxburgh series’.
* The Books and Bakes Shop can be bought in Kindle and paperback formats from Elaine’s website at www.elainewalsh.co.uk or directly from Amazon UK.