The past three years has been amazing time for me. I’ve sold over 300,000 copies of my self-published suspense mysteries, topped charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and landed a three book publishing deal with Hodder and Stoughton.

I’d been writing regularly for twelve years, sending off submissions to agents and publishers, without success. After the dreaded standard rejection letters, I started to make progress, and made some contacts in the publishing industry who liked my writing. But I decided to focus on enjoying writing, and didn’t approach agents or publishers for a few years.

I chose to self-publish in 2011, after receiving a Kindle for my birthday. I realised that there were self-published books doing well in the charts, and investigated how to publish on Kindle and other formats. When I found success through self-publishing, I was approached by a number of agents and publishers.

It was off the back of my self-publishing success that I signed a three book deal with Hodder and Stoughton for my Emma Holden trilogy. The trilogy follows lead character Emma Holden, whose fiancé disappears one week before their wedding. I thought hard about whether to sign with a publisher, and give up my rights for titles that were still selling really well through self-publishing. But I decided it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. It offered a chance to develop my writing, working with a professional team at Hodder. And it had the potential to take my writing career to a new level, reaching readers through a presence in bookstores.

I really enjoyed my experiences during 2014, which saw the publication of all three novels in the trilogy. It was a thrill to see my books on shelves alongside famous authors such as JK Rowling and Jeffrey Deaver. I was also delighted when the first novel, The One You Love, reached number one in the official UK Heatseekers chart. The writing and editing process was very enjoyable, and I had a great relationship with my editor and his team. I was challenged to improve my writing, which resulted in a much better finished product. I’m very proud of what I produced.

For me, the best thing about my experiences is the connections I’ve made with readers from across the world. Through Facebook, twitter, and email, it gives me huge satisfaction to get messages from people who have read and enjoyed my work. It makes all the hard work worth it. You should treat your readers with respect, and engaging with them is the least you can do when they pay money to read your books and take the time to get in touch.

As long as I continue to enjoy writing, I will continue to write. Back in 2011, I would never have believed what I would experience in the coming years. I hope it continues, but I certainly don’t take things for granted. I’m just glad that three years ago I took the chance to achieve my dream.

Paul Pilkington’s The One You Trust is published by Hodder & Stoughton

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