Why did you choose self-publishing instead of a traditional publisher?
It took me six months to write the first book and when I got to the end of my scribbled pages, I sat there with an enormous pile of papers and wondered what do I do next? If I want it to be presented in the best possible way, then maybe I should create a finished book. I still had a long way to go developing the characters, bringing them to life through illustrations and putting the series together from hundreds of muddled up pages so I decided to work with an indie-publishing company to bring the ‘Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key’ to life.
What made you decide to indie-publish? Did you enjoy the process?
Publishing a book is very hard work and I now hold great respect for traditional publishing houses and the process a book goes through from a manuscript to the finished book on a shop shelf. I naively thought it was easy – not! To create twenty-four illustrations for the book I had to go into exquisite details to help animate the Bugglepuff characters. My husband and I managed to miss this fun but my children very kindly dressed up as the Bugglepuff children with their own pets from the book and acted out silly Bugglepuff poses until I got the right photos for the first illustrations!
This was a lot of chaos, chasing chickens around the garden and getting our pig to carry a basket without eating it, was tremendously entertaining. Then I had to sketch out the basic illustrations, with other pictures and wait and wait and wait some more. When I got the first email saying the first few illustrations were ready to view I was so deliriously excited I nearly cried, in fact I think I did. The illustrator at Lulu captured my family and their personalities. I chose black and white sketches for the interior because I love the simplicity of them and they’re so deliciously crisp and timeless.
The editing process was a long, complicated and sometimes frustrating time but I was well supported throughout by Lulu Publishing. It took eight months from August 2013 to April 2014 to complete but I know it was all worth it when I finally got to hold my first ‘Bugglepuff and the Magic Key’ on the 10th April 2014 – my animated family was in print – yippee!
As an author is your job done after you finish the book?
Goodness me no. There is a slight breather when you feel complete holding the first copy of your first book. A sparkle of pride and something inside shouts, “YES!” but then the hard work really starts. Some writers write for the sheer personal pleasure but if you want to reach a wider audience you must look at the readers your targeting. Their age, interests and social media is a massive portal to share your book all over the world. Make sure your up to speed or have an indie-publisher like Lulu on hand to give you marketing guidance. Share the book in the local community and shops. The stigma that used to go with a self-published book in the retail world is getting less biased. If your books are good enough and they catch a retailer’s eye you may be able to launch your book in a bookshop. Online booksellers, including Lulu’s own online shop, are very fast to deliver your books whether you live in China, Europe or the US.
To be a successful and happy writer you need to be able to have a passion for writing, marketing and understand that it takes time and patience to get people to turn the pages of your books. But if you believe in your books worth then so may many other readers – good luck!
Do you suffer with ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it?
Writer’s block for me only came with lack of time in the day to write between juggling everything else. If I felt I needed inspiration I would go for a walk by the sea. I always carry a camera with me to take photos of scenery, a crooked doorway, a curious animal or the ever-changing colours in the sky. Never miss an opportunity to write if an idea pops into your head so always carry a pen and paper to capture that spark. Ideas when they are fresh are the most original and alive in a writer’s imagination.
Did you know?
The great children’s writer Roald Dahl used to keep exercise books called ‘ideas books’ to write down even the smallest of ideas which could potentially become stories. The BFG started with one such sentence scribbled in one of his ideas books. Today, children visiting the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire are still presented with an ideas book to help them capture ideas for their stories. Brilliant!