Ann Widdecombe has self-published her first detective novel via Amazon's KDP and CreateSpace platforms, saying there is “a lot higher royalty on the Kindle edition than any author is going to get in publishing”.
The former politician and one-time "Strictly Come Dancing" star released The Dancing Detective, described as a “traditional detective novel set in contemporary Britain”, last month (15th July, £6.99 in e-book and paperback editions).
Widdecombe’s novel is set in the world of competitive dance, with the central murder committed backstage on a popular TV dance show.
The description reads: “As events escalate and it seems that the murderer may strike again, the crime-solving efforts of the police are supplemented with those of a mysterious dancing detective in a desperate race to discover whodunit.”
Widdecombe told the Torquay Herald Express that she had been thinking about writing the novel after her turn on "Strictly Come Dancing", “but had to stop writing it because the publishers wanted my autobiography done first”.
Strictly Ann: The Autobiography was released by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in June last year and has sold 10,875 copies through Nielsen BookScan across two editions.
Widdecombe has planned for The Dancing Detective to be part of a series, and on publishing via Amazon she said: "The great joy is you can put it up on Amazon in six months. If you give it to a publisher it's nine months before it comes out and nine months before the next one. With Amazon you can put them up whenever you like and there's a lot higher royalty on the Kindle edition than any author is going to get in publishing."
She said she tended “to write quite completely the first time around” and did not “go through draft after draft”.
Image by Poppy Berry
"I get to the end and then make a few changes, but it won't be an extensive rewrite,” she said. “Unlike a conventional publisher, Amazon don't supply a copy editor so you have to check your own copy and make sure every comma is in the right place. Saying that, I've found the odd error in my published works before."
Widdecombe, who has named a character in her new novel after her "Strictly Come Dancing" partner Anton Du Beke, has previously written historical fiction and family dramas. She said: "Most authors fancy turning their hand to something different. There are certain things I don't think I could do, like write a thriller or be a children's author but I often wonder what other disciplines I could offer. I like detective novels and I like the challenge. It's the reverse of how I normally write.
"I normally start the book and don't know what's going to happen, I let the characters decide that. With a detective novel you have to know whodunnit? where and how. Otherwise you can't lay out the clues."
Widdecombe said she hoped The Dancing Detective could be made into a television programme, adding: “Bearing in mind it's based on Strictly, I hope it would be good for TV and it might get picked up.”
Widdecombe’s books have sold 68,303 copies in the Nielsen BookScan era for a combined value of £561,567.
Her literary agent is Carolyn Dawnay.