Last week I had an idea. (Dangerous, I know.) There’d been a lot of Me, Me, Me thanks to Mousetrapped’s birthday week (I know it’s my blog, but still) but yet everyone seemed pretty interested in e-books. So why not get some other self-published e-book authors to talk about their experiences, their books and their success? A few e-mails and it was all arranged: an e-book themed Special Guest Star week. Today our guest poster is Hazel Gaynor (also known as Hot Cross Mum) who after getting painfully close to seeing her non-fiction traditionally published, decided to self-publish it instead. This is a great piece for writers who feel they don’t have the tech savvy to do the formatting, etc. themselves – as Hazel shows, you can find someone else to do the tricky bits for you and still get your e-book out there…
Why an ebook?
Two years ago, I didn’t know what an ebook was, or a blog for that matter! I started my blog ‘Hot Cross Mum’ as a platform for developing a writing career after I was made redundant and decided to become a Stay At Home Mum. I started blogging just at the point when the ‘mummy blogging’ community was exploding in the UK and Ireland and I quickly became part of an influential community of blogging parents.
After being interviewed for ‘The Sunday Times Magazine’ in January 2010 about the transition from corporate to domestic life, my blog was noticed by a literary agent. She enquired whether I’d considered developing a book based on the blog. I hadn’t, but I started to work on it the very next day!
When it was submitted, the book received praise from publishers in Ireland and the UK and was very nearly commissioned for publication by a UK publisher; but unfortunately didn’t make the final hurdle. That book has sat on my PC ever since; nagging at me! As ebooks became more and more popular, I started to think about putting ‘Hot Cross Mum: Bitesize Slices of Motherhood’ out in an ebook format.
The ebook market expands on a daily basis and 2011 certainly seems to be the year when, as predicted by publishers and those in the industry, ebooks will firmly establish themselves in the global marketplace – so it’s a really exciting time to be launching myself into all of that!
Initially, I planned to do everything myself; sourcing a cover designer, formatting the book for the various ebook distribution channels and managing all the uploading., but with two young children to look after and a part-time freelance writing job to hold down, I just simply didn’t have the time – or probably the technical capacity if I’m honest – to do this! So, I decided to use the expertise of a self-publishing company, Original Writing. They created the cover (using my carefully crafted spaghetti letters image!), formatted the text and have managed all the technical aspects of uploading etc. It still took a lot longer, and more work, than I’d anticipated – to get the cover looking right and to proof the formatted PDF for errors, pagination etc. But it certainly got the job done and I can guarantee the book would be floundering somewhere in cyberspace without that external input.
Having put so much time and energy into writing the book, I feel extremely protective of it! Also, this isn’t fiction, this is real, honest stuff about my life and my family and I think that makes it all the more important to me. Now it is out there and available for public consumption, I just hope that it is well received. I guess that’s the leap of faith any writer takes when their carefully crafted words are let loose on the general public!
Promoting a book is hugely important – especially for an unpublished author who is self-publishing. Fortunately, through my blog and social media such as Twitter, I am connected into a great network of other bloggers and writers who I have been in contact with. A number of people who have seen a preview of the book are kindly doing reviews and guest posts on their sites. I also approached a number of successful, established authors and parenting magazine and website editors who have given me some lovely review comments to include with my promotional material. Having their endorsement was really important to me. I’m also working closely with Irish-based site www.directebooks.com to generate a publicity campaign for the book. This will include the book being featured on their blog and being promoted as their recommended read. I will also be running a competition, sponsored by directebooks, to win a Sony e-Reader and credit for their ebookstore.
I think that the key to creating a successful ebook is probably the same as creating a successful book in any format; it ultimately has to be the writing which engages the reader and wants them to keep turning the page – or sliding their finger across the screen in this case! From seeing other writer’s experience of publishing an ebook, it seems to take a period of about 12 months for the word to get out there, for reviews to start coming in and for the sales to really start to increase. I am at the very start of my ebook journey. It’s a daunting but exciting prospect ; who knows where I might be in 12 months’ time. As they say, watch this space!