Another short but poignant #wednesdaywords today. I am loving all of the wonderful things that have been happening since I self-published, but promoting yourself is hard work! This quote, seen on Facebook earlier in the week, just summed it all up!
A MONSTER ATE MY MUM
Written by Jen Faulkner
A children’s book, written in rhyme, looking at Post Natal Depression from a child’s perspective.
First Edition, published on 18th October 2013
Print version: £7.49
An important subject, and one that can be tricky to talk about, is Post Natal Depression, which affects between 10% and 15% of new mothers. To highlight this important issue and to facilitate its discussion comes the story ‘A Monster Ate my Mum’ by Jen Faulkner.
As a sufferer of Post-Natal depression herself, Jen knows how debilitating this illness can be and just how much it affects the whole family, especially siblings. Watching her older children see her suffer and finding it hard to find the right words to explain to them what was happening to their mum, Jen took to something she knows well, her love of writing.
She wrote a rhyming story talking about PND, as seen through the eyes of a child, to help her children understand what was happening to her. She hopes to help other families affected by the illness with the book. The central character, a young boy, goes on a hunt to look for the monsters that have taken different parts of his mum. He looks for her smile, her laugh, her spark.
“Excuse me but have you eaten my mum?
I want her back I want some fun.
I want to see her smile, my mum.
Is she in your big round tum?”
The boy learns that they didn’t mean to eat his mum and that in time, all of the things they have taken will be returned.
“No she’s not here I just ate her smile.
I’ll give it back after a while.
I’m sorry I was hungry you see.
I don’t know where your mum could be.”
Aimed at children across the age range from 2 right through to 12, the initial response from the first appearance of the story on her blog instinctivemum.com has been amazing, and included an invitation to read it aloud on BBC Radio Bristol during Dr Phil Hammond’s Saturday Surgery show. More information can be found on the blog: http://amonsteratemymum.wordpress.com
Currently available through this link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/jen-faulkner/a-monster-ate-my-mum/paperback/product-21257893.html
Jen Faulkner is available to discuss her PND journey and the story it helped to create.
For further information please contact Jen Faulkner: email@example.com or @MonsterAteMyMum
I am so excited to be writing this post to let you know that I did it…and that I am officially a self-published author (even though no-one has actually purchased the book yet lol!) My last post detailed how I was planning to spend all day Friday tackling the self-publishing technological minefield until the book was for sale. I was very nervous as I’m not at all IT trained, and have learnt most of my skills through blogging and being self hosted. I was however, determined not to be beaten.
The day started with a visit to my oldest friend who has just given birth to her first child, a beautiful baby boy, and so the publishing had to wait. It was so worth it though as he was absolutely gorgeous and cuddling newborns is always so wonderful. We chatted childbirth, breastfeeding and nappies before I left them to feed and nap.
Having spent most of the day before in email contact with Helen Braid, my illustrator, I felt confident that I had all of the correct files I needed, and in the correct format. I had the front and back covers as separate files, as well as the inside of the book, all in PDF format and in high resolution. If you ever need to send someone a file that is too big for an email then I can highly recommend using mailbigfile which is just amazing. You can email large files and the recipient can easily download them via the link. Brilliant! It was perfect for us on Thursday as the files did need to be adjusted and then resent. Helen was amazing! I think it was a learning curve for the both of us.
So, down at my desk I sat. I had already set up an account with Lulu and had chosen the size of the book (21.59X21.59), the binding (saddle stitch, only option for a small book), full colour, and for it to be printed on basic grade paper. This last option disappointed me a bit, but because I haven’t yet got an ISBN I had no choice. Lulu do offer free ISBNs but Lulu then become the publisher and I wasn’t prepared to hand that over! So I decided (with the awesome help of @wombat37 again!) that as this was my first project it was better to start small and work on it. Once my ISBN comes through I can then add it to the book and distribute widely through Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as the Lulu marketplace. I clicked on ‘choose file’ (at this point just the inside of the book) and then clicked ‘upload.’ I sat nervously staring at the screen whilst it uploaded. It began by saying it was going to take 15 hours which I thought was a bit excessive, but in the end it only took 20 minutes or so!
The next challenge was the cover and this is where I first stumbled. Lulu do let you upload and add your own covers, however they also make a cover for you which you have to change if you don’t like it. I went to ‘browse files’ and tried to upload the PDFs of the front and back covers. It wouldn’t let me. I clicked and clicked and nothing worked. On quickly reading the help files (would’ve been handy if these files had been available to read sooner!) I discovered that the front and back covers needed to be in JPEG form and not PDF. These I had, but on uploading them it became apparent that they were not in a high enough resolution. I knew it was Helen’s son’s birthday and really didn’t want to have to interrupt the celebrations, but I had no choice, we needed those JPEGs to be in a higher resolution or I couldn’t continue. Helen, as always, was just amazing and it didn’t take long for my phone to ping with an email containing the covers in high resolution JPEGs. One quick and easy upload later and the cover was complete. And then, with a couple more clicks this message appeared…
Now I’m not ashamed to say that at this point I did sit at my laptop and have a little cry. I couldn’t explain how I felt; I felt such a amazing sense of achievement mixed in with feelings of luck and joy that I was better and had been able to have the drive and commitment to see this book through. I’ve never really felt as proud of myself as I did in that moment. I’ve always been very determined, especially when I believe in something, and I believe in this book so very much.
The next thing I had to do was set a price, based on what it was going to cost Lulu to print the book. I found this very difficult as I always undersell myself, so I have taken a lot of advice on the price, and I think I’ve got it right! I ordered myself a copy and paid a stupid amount of money so it comes as quickly as possible, I will not believe it’s actually published until I hold a copy in my hands. (and see that the paper isn’t as bad as I think it might be) Today’s post hasn’t arrived yet, but I think I’m being optimistic in thinking it will be today; I’m hoping for it to be here by the end of the week. And when it does arrive, and I can see for myself how it looks and feels, I can spread the word and start marketing and publicising the book. I’ve already got several brilliant bloggers who have said they would love to review the book, and Netmums would like to feature it on their blog and website with a giveaway. It is PND awareness week in November and I hope that my press release (hopefully writing this today, do not know where to start as always!) will be available so that everything is good to go to coincide with that week. As I have said before, I’m not very good at ‘bigging myself up,’ but I hope A Monster Ate My Mum will help families who have been affected by Post-Natal Depression, and that in itself is motivation enough to shout about the book from the rooftops.
So many people have supported me in this process and I am so thankful, I couldn’t have done it on my own. Once I have my copy and have checked it’s perfect I’ll let you all know…and then, if you’d like to buy the book, you can here…
The next jobs I have now are to write that press release…and to upload the book onto Kindle Direct Publishing as an ebook, which hopefully I can do this week! If you’d like to keep up to date with everything please follow me on Twitter @MonsterAteMyMum 😉
For those of you who have read my blog from the very beginning, know me well or follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I have suffered, more than once, from post-natal depression. It’s a debilitating illness that affects the entire family and I was painfully aware of this after the birth of my third child when I was at my most ill. I witnessed my older children, then three and eleven, look at me with confusion when I was crying again and asked me why I was so sad. I saw them shy away from me when I was irritable and tip-toe around me when I was locked in my own anxiety ridden hell. It wasn’t their fault, it wasn’t anything they’d done, yet I know they were affected by it. I know they were confused by what was happening to their mum who was once such a confident and lively person.
Reaching out to them, and anyone in fact, when I was ill was hard. I hate asking for help and for a while battled with the reality of the illness, refusing to believe it had taken me in it’s grasp. Yet I did want to reach out to them, I did want to explain what was happening to me and that it wouldn’t be like this forever. So I wrote the poem A Monster Ate My Mum which looks at post natal depression through the eyes of a child, and initially illustrated it as a PowerPoint presentation on my iPad. My children loved the story and it prompted some very honest and open discussions about the illness. It helped us so much and even my husband understood a little bit more about what I was going through after reading the poem. Here is a little bit from the poem;
“Excuse me, but have you eaten my mum?
I want her back I want some fun,
I want to see her smile, my mum,
Is she in your big, round tum?”
“No she’s not here I just ate her smile,
I’ll give it back after a while,
I’m sorry I was hungry you see,
I don’t know where your mum could be.”
When I first published the poem on my blog the response was overwhelming. It seemed there was nothing like this out there to help children and families and that’s when I first thought about contacting publishers and agents in the hope that the book would be real, would be in my hands and in those hands of many other sufferers. I met a literary agent this year at Britmums Live and she was wonderfully supportive. We’ve been in touch ever since and she has encouraged me to self-publish the book, as generally children’s publishers like books on slightly happier topics. (frustrating much?!) She believed the book to be a brilliant one and very well written and gave me the encouragement I needed to self-publish.
The next step was to find an illustrator; someone who believed in the book as much as I did; and someone who would be able to draw some monsters that weren’t too scary (it was for children after all!) I needed someone I could trust and when I saw Helen Braid from allatseascotland.blogspot.co.uk advertise her services as a graphic designer I knew she would be the lady to ask. She is so wonderfully talented and has exceeded all of my expectations for the illustrations. They are stunning and I’m so honoured that she agreed to work with me. The print-ready CD arrived in my hands this week and now it’s down to me.
I have extensively researched self-publishing, to the point where I thought my head would explode. It is an absolute minefield and for several days I felt totally overwhelmed. Should I employ the services of a company? Should it be published as an ebook or in print? And if I did decide to go down the DIY route what company should I use to do this? Thankfully, as if often the case, Twitter came to rescue along with some lovely people at the writing club I’ve recently joined. It would seem both ebooks and printed books are the way to go as then you get the best of both worlds. Kindle Direct Publishing was recommended to me by almost everyone I asked, however many have said that actually uploading the book onto the site is very challenging, even for the technically able. So this scares me a lot, I’m not the best technically, however since blogging and going self-hosted I have learnt so very much, but I’m far from being an expert.
With regards to print on demand books this was slightly more complicated. I downloaded ‘Choosing a Self-Publishing Service’ by The Alliance of Independent Authors, and so far it has proved very useful. It recommends several companies, but mainly CreateSpace and Lightening Source. The third it recommends is Lulu. These are all companies where you again upload the book yourself, order yourself a copy as a proof, and then when you’re happy scream about it from the rooftops! On chatting to the brilliantly helpful @wombat37 who has self published more than once, Lulu seemed like the best option as they print and distribute in the UK and many of the others do not, which could prove more costly.
So now I have decided which companies to go with the next step is to actually do it! Eeeeek! I have planned for this Friday to be completely child free all day and am intending to sit at my laptop and not move until the book has been uploaded on both Kindle Direct Publishing and Lulu. (or at least one of them!) If you would like to keep up to date with how I am getting on please follow me on Twitter as @MonsterAteMyMum and hopefully there will champagne corks popping and excited tweets on Friday at some point, celebrating that I’ve successfully self-published!