After more than 18 months, my new book glows out of the monitor. I rub a pair of sore eyes to generate moisture that’s been robbed by four hours of screen time. The sense of achievement is overwhelming and I smile, followed by a sigh of relief. I did it … again … I’ve finally completed another book. Hit print! Let’s go! I’m about to make history, and maybe along the way – some money! Unfortunately, it’s not that simple; now is when the hard work really begins.
‘Wow! You’re a published author?’ someone says to me.‘I saw your book in the local bookstore. You must be rich!’
That one always makes me laugh.
If the writing, editing, illustrating, proofreading, more editing, laying-up, reformatting, more editing, more proofreading, getting quotes, cover design, lay-out, etc … isn’t enough, then the endless publishing and promotional tasks that follow might just be. The journey of an indie (independant) author starts with a bestselling idea but does not end with a book in your hand. In fact, writing your bestseller is about 20% of the equation needed for success. The other 80% is spent trying to reach your target audience, assuming you have one, and build up your profile as an author.
Being a designer helps because, with a background in 2D and 3D graphics, I’ve been able to develop artwork and promotional material including book covers, logos, stationary, websites, pull-up banners and promotional videos. Although having these skills is an advantage, it is also a massive distraction from your creative pursuits; but this is the life of a self-published author. Along with being the author, you’re expected to wear the hats of an editor, a publisher, marketing guru, distributor, booking agent, web developer, brand manager and PR manager. That task list goes on and on and you need to start ticking many of those boxes even before you put pen to paper.
So why did I choose to self-publish rather than knock on the doors of literacy agents or publishers with manuscripts in hand? The answer to that lies partly in how I started as a writer. My first book – ‘The Iddly Widdly Fiddly Poo!’ – was created to help raise money for the Royal Children’s Hospital via the Elise Sneddon Foundation, which was established by close friends in memory of their daughter. That lead me down the path of self-publishing, and I couldn’t stop. The experience of entertaining kids with live sketching sessions and school visits was so rewarding!
I remember thinking, Maybe I can make this work. Maybe people actually want to listen to my stories and look at my scrappy pictures!
So I couldn’t sit and wait, in the hope a publisher would get back to me 6 months after submitting a manuscript; I wanted to get out there! I was working on the next book even before the first shipment of Poo books arrived! I felt in control and alive. The response from parents, schools, friends and family kept me inspired to do more.
I feel like I have learnt so much and come so far with four books published, another out soon, two iPad apps and a YouTube channel. Yep, I’m patting myself on the back a bit … but I think I deserve a little bit of self-gratification after so many years of hard work, and so many more to come.
Do I have more books in the pipeline? Yep!
Do I have more apps on the horizon? Yep!
Would I take an offer from a publisher if they came knocking? Absolutely!