About Joyce Sandilands

Robert and Joyce worked tirelessly for 20 years collaborating as authors and Indie-Publishers of 11 novels, 2 children's books and four audio products. Joyce was also editor of all their books and produced all the audio products for her husband, 3x bestselling novelist, J. Robert Whittle. Joyce is also an award-winning Indie-publisher and they shared Two Independent Publisher Gold Medals in 2007 and 2008. Robert passed away in August 2017, at the age of 84 after suffering for many years with Coal miner's Black Lung. He worked in the coalmines for 20 years beginning at the age of 14 and at 24 began leading a First Response Rescue Team in UK and Europe for his remaining 10 years as a Mining Engineer. His widow, Joyce Sandilands-Whittle, plans to continue writing and selling their books both on their website https://jrobertwhittle.com and possibly at some local summer markets and Craft Shows in 2019. She will post News under Events and on Facebook.

Silent Destiny: An ancient Scottish mystery/prophecy

Silent DestinyAn ancient legend and a 700-year-old prophecy join to tell the story of William Wallace, his family and some missing relics, in our latest novel, Silent Destiny. Purchase your own copy here at our online STORE … there’s also an option to pay online and then pick up your copy from our office, if you live near Victoria BC!

This is a novel of Scotland and two of it’s most devastating historical failures … the horrendous loss of a great patriot and hero, William Wallace, and the ancient story of the missing Scottish Royal Regalia last possessed by Alexander III. This king’s untimely and accidental death, when his horse strayed off a cliff in the darkness as the King hurried home to see his new bride, was unfortunate in so many ways. Scotland was immediately thrown into turmoil as it tried desperately to find an heir. but war ensued and lasted for many years. Through this period known as the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Royal crown and other artifacts were nowhere to be found. There were suspicions about who held them, but that was merely hearsay and despite many searches over the next 700 years, they were not found.

Fast forward to 2006 … 700 years later when our main character, a Canadian English Professor, Emma Walters, is summoned to Scotland to learn details of an ancient title and estate she is purported to have inherited through her deceased father … the father who rarely even spoke of his Scottish past.  Emma’s story, for our purposes, begins that fateful morning in November 2006 when a Scottish solicitor telephone and informs her she must hurry to Scotland if she wishes to claim her Scottish birthright. She is shocked but curious and decides to at least check it out. She will soon discover that many mysteries surround this old estate. But the information which interests her the most is that of the missing artifacts … the Scottish Royal Regalia last held by William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace after he defeated the English at Stirling Bridge and was bestowed with the title of Guardian. Miss Walters has only days to make up her mind and her new ‘assistant’ Alex Wallace only adds to her confusion when she discovers he is holding back information and seems to have an unexplained personal interest in the estate.

More information on our Silent Destiny page and our Facebook Page.

Check our Stores Tab above for locations in the Victoria area which carry our books or order direct from our Store where the authors receive all of the funds from their sales.

The authors will be selling all their books at Summer Markets in 2015 … go to the Events Tab for dates and schedules.

Find YOUR Niche Market – Part 1

So much has happened since we began this amazing and wonderful journey of writing and publishing books. In 1998, when I published my husband’s first novel, I had no clue what publishing or marketing was all about and my self-confidence level was pretty low. All that changed pretty quickly as we found the best way to sell our book(s). This post tells you what our experience has been; I hope it helps to give you some ideas. Relate it to your circumstances and never hesitate to ask your friends or family if they would like to help. Ask them if they would like to read your new book while you’re in the later editing process. We rarely had time to do this but it could be vitally important to your success. Later, you may find someone to help you with markets/shows or webpages etc.

Today we’re in the 16th year of the life of our micro-publishing company, Whitlands Publishing, and I still need to assure myself that yes, we have written and published 12 novels, of which I am author/coauthor of 5 of them. I have also produced 4 audio books (2 of which I narrated).  Three of these novels are Canadian bestsellers (my husband’s) and in 2007 and 2008 we won IPPY (Independent Publisher) Gold Medal Awards for our region of Canada West (half of Canada). This is not only a writing award but a publishing award as well and important enough to enter. Now, many people in the industry tell me that all this makes me an expert in the field!

Our niche in books is mainly historical adventure but the marketing niche we developed was, and still is, a not-often-used method … by virtually standing on the street at outdoor markets and/or indoors craft/info or trade shows. We merely talk our fool heads off about our great books and attempt to persuade people to buy them.

“Who has time to do this?” You ask. Writers need to spend all their spare time writing, after all you are a writer not a marketer. Well, in our case, that’s where I came in because I was able to sell at some of the small markets and have time to do all the rest of it … editing, publishing, website, retail, online and other marketing. Farmer’s Markets and summer markets have been so successful for us, they became our ‘niche market’ and it was more lucrative than the uncertainty and short season of retail sales. We live in a tourist city and, although the early years were somewhat better for us prior to the recent years of worldwide economic problems, these summer/winter markets and shows remain our best avenue for sales. It became obvious that Robert had the necessary personality for this … he is confident, outgoing and pleasant, enjoying talking about his books and history to anyone who will listen. He is also probably his own greatest fan having read each of his own books numerous times since they were published!

In the early years, it got easier with each new book, now it often takes too long to talk about all of them. Winning an award really helped too. It was easy for Robert to talk about history, he’d lived it in England for the first 35 years of his life, for me it didn’t come as easily. After 14 years I still have to force myself to relax and just enjoy talking to people. I’m not as good at it as Robert, never will be, but then he’s The Man! A Tip: Don’t think too hard on ‘selling,’  just enjoy the conversation and then ask if you can sign a copy for them. Many will be surprised because it hasn’t sunk in that you are the actual author, then they usually become more interested!

Another way to look at your Niche Market is … who is going to buy your book? Is it male, female, boy, girl, young, old. The trick is then getting to them. For us, markets enabled us to have contact with some youngsters but mainly adults of all ages. They liked the books and realized they would be good for the younger members of the family partly due to their lack of gratuitous sex and violence.

I haven’t mentioned our schedule of markets/shows, but we do a lot of them. When you find something that works for you, you need to milk it and we did just that. Robert now regularly has his photo taken with the people who buy his books. You will be wondering when Robert has time to write. For the first few years he became prolific, writing quickly, and selling days were minimal. Then it got busier with a spring/summer market (Bastion Square) that went from April-October. By the end of the first summer, we knew this NICHE of summer markets was working for us despite having only one book. A few years later our schedule got busier and Robert only had 3 months of undisturbed writing in a year, but somehow he managed to churn out enough books for me to edit and publish year after year. When fans want something you make every effort to get it for them, if it is at all possible … after all this is a business.

Who would have thought it possible and, personally, I think a lot of people (friends and family) were afraid to encourage us because they thought we were going to fall flat on our faces. But they didn’t count on the talent, love and support of the one person that mattered … my husband, author J. Robert Whittle. Writing his first novel in his early 60s after never even thinking about writing, was the first miracle, that he was good at it was the second, and my interest was the third! After publishing his third novel in 1998 (the first 2 are not published yet), together we have managed to survive in this tough business for 15 years so far! (many more details on his Bio Page)

This blog entry is already feeling like a therapy session, but I want to illustrate that it really doesn’t take a lot of money, knowledge or support from those we know and love. We had only enough money to print the first book … but it was enough to get us started. In 1998, with the Internet in its early days, we had little knowledge, but we sure learned fast once people started buying that first book! We don’t recommend being as ill-prepared as we were, things have changed and there’s a lot more competition and information now. All the early support came from each other … and that turned out to be enough too because our fans soon became very encouraging, even demanding! If I can do it in my 50s and 60s, anyone can tackle writing and marketing a book. There are so many instructional websites, forums and groups on the internet today … check out Facebook and LinkedIn as well … or Google it!

Now don’t get me wrong, many people think that we’re making a ton of money because we’re so successful. How we wish! Sales have been great but self-publishing means you pay all your own expenses. With all our printing (no ebooks until recently), show registrations, two vans and travel expenses (many are away and we live on an island), this became a labour of love that gave us something to look forward to everyday – more than many people can say. Today we are very close to retirement but we’ll still keep boxes of books handy and do smaller markets as we’re able. We’ll also never stop enjoying the comments our readers tell us about how much enjoyment we’ve brought to their lives.

But back to writing and publishing. “Don’t quit your day job” is a popular expression told to writers and we feel that it continues to be very sensible advice.

So GOOD LUCK until next time. (Part 2 will follow soon).


Non-US Self-Publishers need to register

If you are a self-publisher using Amazon/Kindle or Smashwords and DON’T reside in the USA … LISTEN UP!!

01TrYou must register with the US IRS to find out whether you will need to pay taxes on your book sales or if you are exempt.

This is one of those annoying jobs that is very easy to forget because most of us hate government forms and have a fear of filling them our incorrectly and paying the consequences.

If like us, you reside in Canada where we are apparently (unofficially apparently) exempt from these US taxes, you still must deal with this situation and the sooner the better.

I found this article … a very helpful and well-described blogpost by “Catherine, Decaffinated” … here is the link.

Here’s a sample: She uses the example of an Irish author named David who actually got his EIN within minutes … over the phone!”

Here in part is his tale: “As many of you will know, Amazon and Smashwords are required by law to withhold 30% of the royalties earned by non-US authors until they settle their tax status. The commonly accepted method of doing so was going through the laborious process of getting an International Tax Identification Number (ITIN), which necessitates arcane form-filling, notarized copies of passports, embassy trips, fees, and inexplicable rejection (writers should at least be used to the last part). And indeed, this was the path I was on myself, up until yesterday. Use above link to read the whole story.

Good luck.

‘Lizzie Series’ still popular

LizzieSrs_white bgFans of bestselling Victoria BC author, J. Robert Whittle, who have read his Victoria Chronicles Trilogy and his single novels, often don’t realize he wrote an earlier popular series, Lizzie. Looking for more reading material while they wait for Robert to write another book, many discovered the Lizzie Series set in early 19th century England during the trying and sad years of the Napoleonic Wars. Within 5 years of the arrival of the first book in the Victoria Chronicles, Lizzie was overshadowed by the author’s trilogy full of real local history.  Then with 10 novels out by 2010, thankfully, we saw the beginning of a resurgence in Lizzie’s popularity. In recent years, due to Robert’s health and realizing we had too large a stock of some books, we later temporarily reduced the price to $15 ea. (including GST). Even today, there are many readers who still ask Robert to write more books in the series because they love the antics of the main characters so much.

The Lizzie Series has seen popularity with both adults and teens (or younger), male as well as female). It is also a  little-known fact that the character of Lizzie, a spunky pre-teen, possesses a personality which closely mirrors that of the author as a child when he too, was a young  entrepreneur. Just look into his bright blue eyes and you’ll still see the sparkle of that childhood innocence!!

We are told that first-time authors often write about their own experiences … did this author follow that pattern? Friends and readers who get to know him, will admit that Robert definitely possesses a strong personality, has an answer for everyone, and lets absolutely nothing intimidate him, just like Lizzie … and we still often see whispers of that young-at-heart man in the still-cheeky 83-year-old!

If this sounds like the type of main character you love to read about, then you will love the Lizzie Series. So go and check out Lizzie’s webpage right now before you forget!

* The Lizzie Series is available in paperback on this website, on Amazon, Kindle and in all other ebook formats at  Smashwords.com.

Women are the Power eReaders

chart-of-the-day-women-gadgets-aug-2011I found this very interesting article today … entitled:  “Who Loves E-Readers? Your Mom?” The link is now paid content (Aug/15) but the gist of it was that more women over 55 are using ereaders than men or any other age group of women.This fascinated me and I couldn’t resist reading it. I also have some knowledge of the subject because I am one of those female power readers. It seems that, “A new study from Nielsen finds that 61 percent of e-reader owners are now female, compared to 46 percent in the third quarter of 2010. And, the company says, 30 percent of e-reader owners are over the age of 55.”

Ever since I purchased my first ereader, I have found myself recommending them to women at shows where we sell our own books. Three years ago (or was it four!) I was eager to get our books onto Amazon’s Kindle ebook format. Soon after, I discovered Smashwords which allowed us to cover all the ebook formats. This put us ahead of many of the self-published authors in joining the new technology. By Christmas 2012, Robert and I had 3 ebook readers between us plus my smartphone. I have not been without reading material again and it was wonderful to find time to read again, even if in small snatches.

When I recommend ereaders, it is usually because they don’t want to buy our print books because they have too many books in their homes and are downsizing or have vision issues. When I explained the benefits of reading ebooks, they were usually amazed. By the end of 2012, many more women had their own ereader or was hoping to receive one that Christmas. I’m thrilled that many of those readers are now purchasing our ebooks and, yes, many of them are older women. If our own ebooks can continue to be available after we retire from markets and craft shows, Robert and I are all for it!

When writing and publishing your own books, keep these stats in mind. If you slant your content to women of this age group this could assist your sales greatly.

‘Till next time.

Joyce Sandilands

Be Precise, Say it Simply: Seven Ways to Avoid Overwriting

This is the title of a blog entry on Goodreads.com by Emily Craven. Emily is a witty, enthusiastic, and talented self-published author from Australia whom I adored the first time I heard her speak. Her talents include writing informative and humourous blogs and being the author of fantasy and YA fiction.

Thanks Emily.

Emily’s Blog
Emily’s Books

See you next time.


NB: previously posted at joycesandilands.com

What is happening to eBooks?

Smashwords - Ebooks in ALL formats Kindle - Ebooks
What is happening to eBooks?


– Apparently, they are selling more ebooks at Amazon than paper books – not surprising when you hear that they have made a special arrangement with authors to offer their books FREE for 5 days within a 90 day period. Yes, Amazon has put a special pot of 600,000 together for their latest play to get authors on this program … all at the expense of a possible loss of sales to all other ebook stores online.

– Amazing apps are becoming available that make ebooks interactive … not just kid’s books but adult books too, complete with the sound of railways and screams in the proper places. Pretty cool if you ask me!

In case you didn’t know, all books by J. Robert Whittle and Joyce Sandilands are available in all formats as ebooks.

Using Drop Caps in your ePub and Kindle eBooks

I just discovered the Tips website of fellow member of LinkedIn and wanted to share … how to go that extra mile in formatting your book for ePub and Kindle. I have not tried this yet, but I’ve thought about it often and seen many old ebooks with this feature not working! I use MSWord so it may be a challenge. I’ll keep you posted 🙂  Link for Drop Caps Also check out Marks’s website for other great tips. I’ve registered to “follow” him so I don’t miss anything! An additional tip on same subject from Cathryn Isakson on LinkedIn: “If you fiddle around with the font size in the dropcap definition, you can get the baseline of the dropcap to align with the baseline of your paragraph text. In my last ebook, I also added a subtle colour to the dropcap and it came up well.”