About 6 months in, I kept being asked asked by friends and colleagues for tips on what outdoorsy things to do at different times of the year, and decided that a handbook might be just what they needed. It would be jam packed with ideas, themed according to the season, and would also be a fun, escapist read.
I never really considered anything other than self-publishing, maybe I was too impatient! I initially got feedback from Kirsty McLachlan on how the self-publishing industry worked and whether my idea was worth pursuing, and with her support I started.
Juggling the writing with a job and running the website was pretty challenging, and it took a couple of months longer than I had expected. I also got editorial notes from Kirsty after the first draft was completed, which were incredibly helpful even though it meant I had to rethink the whole structure! A fresh pair of eyes was essential for the final proof read, as it’s easy to miss typos when it’s your own work, so my mum’s teaching background came in very handy at that point!
I don’t know how to use any design software, and wanted to the book to look professional, so I employed a book designer who had done books and ebooks for many small businesses and he was able to give lots of advice about what images and colours would work best on my budget. He also had invaluable advice about which self publishing platform to go with. It was a close call between Lulu.com and Lightning Source, but in the end Lulu.com was the simplest option for me. He submitted the manuscript to Lulu for me as well, as apparently it can be quite tricky regarding page sizes, spine sizes etc.
With most of my budget gone on the design, I had to do the marketing on a shoestring. However, having an existing blog and network of contacts via social media has proved invaluable. I’ve leveraged my newsletter subscriber list and twitter and facebook contacts to the max, and had a few media requests to review the book as a result. I have also responded to journalist requests on twitter on various topics, which gets my website highlighted in the media and which will hopefully boost book sales as well.
Top 3 tips:
Don’t try and do it on your own. There’s lots of advice and support available out there. Knowing I had Kirsty behind me made all the difference whenever I felt daunted by the whole process.
-Make sure the design looks professional and get it proof read properly. Nothing looks more amateur than a self published book full of typos.
-Go for it! Seeing my book finally in print was a fantastic moment, definitely a lifelong ambition achieved.