Five Years Published!

Today marks the 5th anniversary of my debut novel being published!

Doubting Abbey was inspired by Downton and became a Christmas bestseller. It was such an exciting time watching it climb the charts. At one stage I even had a Hollywood movie producer reading it. You can imagine the jumping up and down when that news came in!

But today gives me an opportunity for reflection.

What a roller coaster.

Since the 10th November 2013 I’ve had ten books published, I’ve had two agents, two publishers, I’ve changed genres, I’ve won an award, I’ve had two novels in the Amazon Top Ten…

And I’ve ended up needing mental health treatment. Whilst my career didn’t cause my alcohol and eating problems, it magnified them.

2013 to 2018 has been an intense time. One of the most intense periods of my whole life.

So what have I learnt?

That if you are going to work incredibly hard, if you are going to challenge yourself personally and professionally in ways you never thought possible, the rewards are unimaginable…


self-care must be a top priority.

I allowed my writing to stretch across each day to the exclusion of hobbies and getting out of the house.

I allowed it to stretch across weekends.

I allowed myself to become so involved with my career and social media that I began to think those things were actually *me*. That if a book topped the charts Sam Tonge was a success. That if a book didn’t Sam Tonge was a failure.

And as my mental health deteriorated I began to feel as if I was living a double life, as if I had two faces – Samantha Tonge The Author and Sam Tonge who was secretly struggling.

I paid the price for this.

So,  new authors who’ve just signed a deal…  take a deep breath. Amazing things are ahead of you! But  your writing career is not the sum of you. It may be a passion, a vocation, but ultimately it is a job and the peaks and troughs should not dictate your happiness.

Now I’m just me, online and off, warts and all. And what a relief.

LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH. My tips for that are here.

And by doing so, you should enjoy the ride 🙂


  1. Jenni Keer says:

    Timely post for me. I have learned so much following you (even got the shampoo!). Your honesty is refreshing when social media bombards us with the shiny side of life. The mouldy, rusty bits of our lives then somehow get amplified in our heads – and this is dangerous. Thanks again for the reality check. Jenni x

    • Sam Tonge says:

      The shampoo comment made me chuckle 🙂
      Thanks, Jenni. Yes, I think it’s very easy to believe every other author is having an amazing time when that’s often not the case at all. And it can be dangerous as we then reach a “well, it must be only me,” frame of mind and negativity can so quickly get out of control.
      Best of luck with your well-deserved progress and if you ever need to bend my ear you know how to message me 🙂 Sam x

      • Jenni Keer says:

        Very kind. It’s so important to have real life author friends that sit with you over a coffee and give you a reality check. What we might not say on social media, we let spill out over a coffee. The RNA has been great for this. One friend in particular reassures me in the doubting moments. Without these friendships I would be struggling now.

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