“How’s the book going?”

Thank you cards

“Hey, how’s the book going?”

If had a pound for every time someone has asked me THAT question over the last 9 months, I’d be more than financially able to fund the printing of my second book! Unfortunately, I don’t get paid when I get asked that question, however, I have often thought that perhaps I should start charging people a pound if they would like to hear the answer to THAT question.

So how is my book – The Tickle Monster – going? Well… no one ever said it was going to be easy is how I should begin my answer. Self-publishing is tough. Not tougher than I expected but tough all the same. It’s lots of fun – if you have the time, money and oodles of energy – but if those elements are lacking in abundance then get ready for a rough ride.

Back in February, I decided to bulk order over three-thousand copies of The Tickle Monster. It’s a very risky manoeuvre in the realms of self-publishing and many SP authors turn their backs on this route due to huge financial implications*; instead, preferring to print-on-demand. Although POD is an extremely popular way of printing copies of ones book, you are not afforded the quality that you get when using a professional printing company that understands the intricacies of colour, style and quality. In my mind, most consumers appreciate a quality product.

I started the year with a plan and that plan was to self-promote my book; starting off small by visiting local bookshops selling five books a go for starters, visiting local schools to read the book, blogging, using social media, whilst slowly infiltrating the ‘bigger’ bookshops before starting on the second book. It was a big plan and lot of work for little old me, especially as I was still working full time!

Fast forward to April and I’d cut down to working three days a week, giving me two days to focus on the book. I sent out emails to all the local schools and slowly but surely began to receive responses asking me to come in to do readings of the book, with some schools asking me to facilitate writing workshops. I’d also visited three of my local Waterstones branches and two of them agreed to buy 5 copies each of the book, as I’d hoped. The book was on the move!

From April until July, I think I visited over twenty primary schools, pre-schools and nurseries! I was very lucky that someone truly wonderful and talented made me my very own Tickle Monster toy to take with me on my visits. The response from the children, teachers and parents has been overwhelming. Every school was a fantastic and unique experience and I so enjoy encouraging children to use their imaginations! Sales of the book were not always as consistent as I’d hoped they’d be, but where one week I would sell one book, the next week I might sell ten.

Once the schools started winding down for the Summer term, I’d planned on taking some time off, whilst also swapping my focus to getting more copies of The Tickle Monster into bookshops. Without a doubt, this has been the most difficult part of the process and the only thing that has made me break-down in tears – for feeling like a failure. Trying to sell to bookshops is tricky. Trying to get distributors to agree to stocking your book is even trickier. Trying to talk to the same person on the phone is impossible! Many promises have been made to me over the last nine months about stocking and buying my book, however, none have come to fruition as yet. I’m a tiny SP fish in a hugely competitive publishing pond. I now understand that where I may sound like a good idea to one person, another may disagree, or someone more well known will come along and me and my book are long forgotten. Unfortunately, this is the lament of many SP authors, however, I am told that I must keep going because it is only determination and a good quality picture book that will eventually win through!

I have to be honest and say that August has been the lowest point of this adventure but a learning curve all the same. Unfortunately, I find myself working full time again until October half term. After that, I can get on with more school visits, selling more books and printing the second book of the series! Most of all, I’m continuing to learn that this business has it’s ups and downs, and that unless I’m some celebrity’s dog with a fine publishing contract (damn you Miranda Hart and Peggy!), I’m just going to have to keep plugging away and being patient.

Thank you to all those family and friends who have continued to ask me how it’s all going. Your support is always appreciated!

I hope that answers THAT question. X

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