When Louise Ross decided to take a career break in 2015, she knew she could write a short story that would entertain her friends.
What she didn’t know was that her new life as a self-publishing author was about to take off.
Writing under the name L J Ross, Louise has gone on to sell more than 7 million novels, reaching the top of the best-seller charts 18 times, and becoming the first self-published writer to be short-listed for the British Book Awards.
She’s been described by the press as the ‘Queen of Kindle’ and ‘the next J K Rowling’.
But the 38-year-old is quick to admit that switching from lawyer to thriller writer was something of a gamble.
Louise said: “I had never written a full book before – I didn’t know I could.
“I thought, ‘I’ll just see if I can write a chapter’ and then, ‘I’ll see if I can write two’.
“Suddenly I had a book.”
Louise’s debut novel, Holy Island, is a murder mystery set on Lindisfarne, and the first in her hugely successful series of DCI Ryan crime books.
She added: “I published the first book on January 1, 2015 using the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform.
“The KDP platform allows authors to see their sales in real time, so it was exciting to see around 25 sales on release day.
“I was grateful that most of my family and friends must have bought a copy and didn’t expect many more!
“However, over the next few weeks, the sales gradually increased until the book eventually made it to number one on the Amazon UK chart in May 2015.
“It was around this time I first appreciated that a good number of people enjoy reading my stories just as much as I enjoy writing them.”
While her native Northumberland has provided the dramatic settings for all 19 of her DCI Ryan novels to date, she has ventured to Paris and Ireland for her three Alexander Gregory thrillers, and to Cornwall for her recent Summer Suspense books.
Despite lucrative offers from publishing houses, Louise continued to maintain control of her work – and her schedule – and has released an incredible 24 novels in her first seven years of full-time writing.
She explained: “It has turned out to be a fantastic decision to publish my books directly on Amazon.
“The DCI Ryan Mysteries cross over into a lot of different genres – crime, thriller, romance, adventure, etc.
“It would be difficult for a traditional publisher to know which shelf in a bookstore to put them on, but that problem doesn’t arise on Amazon because it has unlimited virtual shelf space.
“Publishing my books independently also means that, without sacrificing any quality standards, I’ve been able to release books when I want.
“I’m not aware of any traditional publisher that would have been able to accommodate my release schedule without significant delays.”
Louise is one of around 1,000 self-publishing authors who earn more than £100,000 each year from their book royalties.