Then and Now: Sheena Lambert, author of ‘Alberta Clipper’


This month, as part of my regular feature to share and celebrate author success stories, I’m delighted to welcome Sheena Lambert to Whims & Tonic. Sheena recently took the plunge and self published her debut novel Alberta Clipper. Sheena will be speaking about her self publishing journey at Waterford Writer’s Weekend on Friday 22nd March. See website for full details, but here’s a sneak preview of her self publishing success!

Where you were at with your writing this time last year?

I finished my novel ALBERTA CLIPPER before Christmas 2011. By March 2012, I had set it aside for two months, and was back editing it helped by questionnaires I had sent my BETA readers in January. These questionnaires were very helpful, in particular where they revealed issues common to all the readers. During March, I also was fortunate enough to have Chris Binchy, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Writer-in-Residence look over my work, and his feedback further helped me with my edits. I hadn’t as yet contacted any publishers in any serious way, although I had made a few early enquiries with agents.

What was causing you the greatest challenge with your writing?

Actually, there was one particular chapter which was driving me crazy. When I ‘finished’ the novel in 2011, I knew that this chapter had to be improved on, but I really didn’t know how, and the harder I worked at it, the harder it was to see clearly what needed to be done. Two things helped me resolve the issue; the first was a chat with Vanessa O’Loughlin of who in a couple
of sentences helped me see the major problem with the chapter, the second was the BETA reader questionnaires which also helped me realise what was wrong with the passage in question.

What important decisions did you make in the last 12 months?

The decision to self-publish was, of course, huge. My novel could still be an undiscovered pile of A4 pages stacked beside me on the kitchen table, instead of being in every major Irish bookstore and on Amazon for kindle. I can now read 5-star reviews of Alberta Clipper from book reviewers in the USA I have never met nor heard of, something that would have not happened had I not self-published.

What was the pivotal moment for you in the last 12 months?

Deciding to self-publish was certainly pivotal. Having had very positive feedback from a couple of publishers who nonetheless were not prepared to take on ALBERTA CLIPPER, I decided that based on the outcome of one last submission, I would self-publish or not. When this particular publisher
turned ALBERTA CLIPPER down, and yet encouraged me, based on the book’s quality, to self-publish it, I took it as a sign.

The second important moment for me was getting my book distributed by Easons in Ireland. Having them decide, independently, that ALBERTA CLIPPER was good enough to sell in their shops and to distribute to other bookshops was a great moment for me. Self-publishing is a lonely business, and some positive affirmation is always welcome!

What were the high points of the last twelve months?

I’ve been on the radio and TV since publishing ALBERTA CLIPPER, but having my book stocked by Bookstation and then Easons were definitely two of my highest points. My first independent book review was exciting too, especially as the reviewer was very complimentary about the book. Getting through to the quarter-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award has been great – watch this space for any news of the semis! And of course, getting my first paperback proofs in the post from Createspace. That was nice.

What is the most important thing you have learnt about your writing during the last twelve months?

That I can write. I have had newspaper feature articles published very successfully before, but I wasn’t sure that I could write a novel. Now I know I can.

What are your hopes for the next twelve months?

I have two main aspirations for 2013. The first is to improve my kindle sales – I will work hard to emulate the success I have had in paperback in my ebook, and the second is to complete and publish my second novel. Whether I self-publish it or not remains to be seen…

Any other good news, inspirational or positive experiences to take away from the last twelve months?

I finished a novel, self-published it, and got it onto the shelves of every major bookstore in Ireland. I’m exhausted. That’ll do for one calendar year!

About the author

Sheena Lambert pic

It took ten years working as an engineer on a landfill site, five years running a fashion boutique and one year lecturing in waste management and recycling before 38 year old Sheena Lambert from Dublin, Ireland, realised she was supposed to have been a writer all along. Her first novel, ALBERTA CLIPPER, was published in November 2012.

Now, in addition to raising two boys and making the dinner every day, she writes feature articles for a living, and is working on her second novel.

Sheena lives in Dublin, Ireland for the moment, but if she wins the lottery, you will find her in a little village somewhere in the south of France, making red wine.

ALBERTA CLIPPER IS AVAILABLE IN EASONS, DUBRAYS, BOOKSTATION and all good indie BOOKSTORES ACROSS Ireland and on Amazon at the following links: and

Contact Sheena at or


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. carolannwrites
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 09:22:20

    Reading stories like yours, Sheena and Hazel, is what keeps the rest of us pushing on… Enjoyed listening to you both on tv3 and best of luck with the book sales.


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