What Makes A Successful Author? by Sally Jenkins

I’m delighted to feature Sally Jenkins on my blog this week, as she answers the question – What makes a successful author? I have known Sally for many years now as we both belong to a sub-group of the Romantic Novelists’ Association who meet in Birmingham. Sally has just published Little Museum of Hope with Ruby Fiction, now a part of Joffe Books. Over to Sally …

When I give talks about my writing, I’m often asked, ‘What makes a successful author?’ There’s no simple answer – otherwise we’d all reach the stellar heights of JK Rowling and Richard Osman!

However, since I signed a publishing contract with Ruby Fiction for my novel, Little Museum of Hope, I’ve been thinking more about that question. This novel has been ten years in the making, so why has it successfully found its publishing home now?

It all started around 2013 when I read a newspaper article about the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. The concept behind that museum stuck in my head. It is a place bursting with stories about people who have suffered in life – and haven’t we all at some point? Individuals donate objects to the museum that remind them of their heartbreak, such as a cuddly Snoopy received from a man who went on to be an unfaithful husband, or the snazzy boots bought by adulterous man to impress his mistress or a drawing made by a stranger on a train.

Inspired by The Museum of Broken Relationships, I created a fictional museum in Birmingham, UK and devised a series of short stories, each focusing on a single donor and the object they brought to the museum. Then literary ambition took over, and after speaking to a publishing professional at an event in London, I realized these stories could be brought together into a novel. All I needed were a couple of narrative threads to bind the individual stories into a compulsive longer read. Easier said than done! I created Vanessa, whose husband leaves her on the same day that she is made redundant. She opens the Little Museum of Hope to fill the void but has only ten months in which to start turning a profit.

None of the above explains the novel’s eventual success in finding a publisher and, for a long time, the book could have been described as ‘a failure’. Every submission received a rejection – until a tweet got ‘liked’ in a Twitter pitch competition. The tweet was: A contemporary museum that holds the detritus & stories of broken hearts. Plus, curators with their own tale to tell. As a result, the full manuscript received detailed agent feedback. I followed the advice, including rewriting and changing the point of view of large sections of the book. But the agent decided not to proceed any further with it. This was a massive disappointment but it also gave me absolute confidence in the concept behind the book and I continued to submit – until I secured another agent!

This agent worked with me on three more rounds of editing before the novel went on submission to the big publishers. None of them wanted it.

I wrote another novel which the agent loved but that didn’t sell either.

By now, I was almost 60 and felt unable to waste more time writing another book that still might not appeal to the big boys and I suggested we try the smaller, digital-first publishers. My agent gently explained that, financially, this wasn’t worth her while and so I decided to submit independently. And, hey presto! (OK – not quite that quick) Little Museum of Hope found a home.

So, what is important in making an author successful? In my opinion it’s persistence in the face of continual rejection plus the willingness to act on any feedback received. 

By coincidence, those are the two qualities that Vanessa has to work on when trying to get the Little Museum of Hope into profit.

About Sally Jenkins

Sally Jenkins lives in the West Midlands of England. When not writing, she feeds her addiction to words by working part-time in her local library, running two reading groups and giving talks about her writing. Sally can also be found walking, church bell ringing and enjoying shavasana in her yoga class.

Follow or contact Sally using the following links:-

Website/blog – http://www.sally-jenkins.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sallyjenkinsuk

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sallyjenkinsuk

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sallyjenkinsauthor

Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/AHkMP

About Little Museum of Hope

A jar of festival mud, a photo album of family memories, a child’s teddy bear, a book of bell ringing methods, an old cassette tape, a pair of slippers …

These are the items that fill the exhibit shelves in Vanessa Jones’ museum. At first glance, they appear to have nothing in common, but that’s before you find out the stories behind them …

Because Vanessa’s Little Museum of Hope is no ordinary museum – its aim is to help people heal by donating items associated with shattered lives and failed relationships, and in doing so, find a way to move on, perhaps even start again.

The museum soon becomes a sanctuary for the broken hearts in Vanessa’s city, and she’s always on hand to offer a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a listening ear.

But could the bringer of Hope need a little help moving on herself?

Buying link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Museum-Hope-Guaranteed-heartstrings-ebook/dp/B0BW4SZXRQ/

Little Museum of Hope is now available on Kindle Unlimited!

Good luck with your book, Sally and bravo for persevering! Mx

Thank you for visiting my blog – Morton S. Gray – Author. I hope you enjoyed this post. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Morton S. Gray news – all of my six Borteen Novels are now available on Kindle Unlimited! Details here

Summer at Lucerne Lodge – Now available on Kindle Unlimited 

Christmas at the Little Beach Cafe – Now available on Kindle Unlimited 

Sunny Days at the Beach – Now available on Kindle Unlimited 

Christmas at Borteen Bay – Now available on Kindle Unlimited 

The Truth Lies Buried – Now available on Kindle Unlimited 

The Girl on the Beach – Now available on Kindle Unlimited 

Published by Choc Lit an imprint of Joffe Books

By Morton S. Gray

Author of romantic suspense novels. http://mortonsgray.com


  1. Fascinating glimpse into the inspiration behind a novel and an author’s dogged determination. The message is “never give up”. I think Jane Cable will be interested in this blog as she has visited this museum in Zagreb. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

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