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Self-Publishing Advice Conference Highlights: How To Help A Loved One Write A Book, With Claire Scobie

Self-Publishing Advice Conference Highlights: How to Help A Loved One Write a Book, with Claire Scobie

In this presentation, Claire Scobie shares her journey of co-authoring a memoir with her mum, Patricia Scobie. Together, they published A Baboon in the Bedroom about an amazing journey across Africa in 2017.

Claire shares the experience of collaborating long-distance with a family member (Claire lives in Australia, her mum in the UK) and the power of books to uplift after grief and loss.

This segment will help you see how writing and indie-publishing a book with a loved one can bring you closer and give the loved one a new indie author career.

This podcast is part of Self-Publishing Advice Conference, an online author conference that showcases the best self-publishing advice and education for authors across the world — harnessing the global reach of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ network. Our self-publishing conference, which runs fringe to Digital Book World, features well-known indie authors and advisors, for 24 sessions over 24-hours, in a one-day extravaganza of self-publishing expertise straight to your email inbox.

The AskALLi podcasts are sponsored by Damonza: Books Made Awesome.

If you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

Now, go write and publish!

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Hello, everyone. My name is Claire Scobie and it’s a great pleasure to be here today as part of the Alliance of Independent Authors Self-Publishing Advice Conference 2018. I’m going to be speaking on how to publish a book with a family member, specifically I wrote a book with my mom, Patricia Scobie. And this is part of the self-publishing pleasure and profit theme. So, I thought I’d break it down into 5 sections, 5 steps which I hope will be easy for you to follow and you’ll gain lots of tips and tricks on how to write your own book with a family member, perhaps your mom, perhaps an aunt, perhaps a sibling. So the steps are as follows.
First of all: your motivation. Secondly, getting started. Thirdly, the writing process. Fourthly, revision and finishing. And fifthly, the indie publishing process. I’m going to be sharing my screen occasionally and I”ve put those five steps into a document so I will show you and remind you periodically through the presentation.
So, why motivation to start? I’ve mentored writers over the years, I’ve also taught hundreds and hundreds of writers at different writing courses over the years and I think motivation is one of those things that people underestimate because motivation is really important because if you know why you’re writing a book, why you’re embarking on a really big project like this that may take years, it can really help you, particularly during the tough times and I always think there are three different phases when writing, you’ve got the beginning phase which is when everything’s possible, you feel very excited, it’s that spring energy.
Then you’ve got the middle phase of writing when you’re in the grind, when you’re lost in the woods and during those time you really need to keep reminding yourself why it is you’ve actually embarked on this big project, what was your motivation and then you’ve got the finishing phase which is when you’re climbing to the top of the mountain and every time you think you’re there, there’s yet another peak to climb. And again, reminding yourself why you’re doing it is really important during that phase.
So before you even start on your project, or even if you’re writing, or co-writing a book with a family member, just stop to think about and have a conversation with your co-writer about why it is you’re doing it. What do you want to get out of it. Some people want to write something for their children as a legacy piece. Some people do want to write something that’s going to make them money. Other people are doing it because they want to explore a subject. Or maybe you’re doing it with an elderly parent in order to capture memories about that person while those memories are still fresh.
So come back to your motivation and be clear on it when you start. So why did my mom and I decide to write our book? Our book is called A Baboon In the Bedroom and it’s a travel memoir about my parent’s journeys across Africa. In 1919, my parents Tony and Patricia Scobie, set off in a Landrover called Stan from London and drove to Cape Town. IT was the eve of the Gulf War and ahead of them lay the entire African continent. But that actually isn’t why mom and I decided to write the book. In 2012, my dad wasn’t well and at that time, as a way to keep him looking forward and keep him staying positive I thought it would be a good idea if he and I started to write his journals, started to write his memoirs. Sadly, he passed away in July 2012.
So mom and I decided to work on the book together after that. I’m English but I live in Sydney and my mom lives near Oxford, in the UK, so in a way, it was also a way for me to stay connected to her when I came back to Australia and it helped us both, particularly her, though the grieving process. So there were many different reasons why we decided to write the book and at the beginning I didn’t know whether if it would eventually be published.
I just knew that it would be a lovely project for us to work on together and I would learn more about her and about my parents and their amazing adventures and that was one of the benefits that came out of working on the book with her because I learned about my parents in quite a different way, through her eyes.
And during the months and those initials years after my dad passed away it was a really beautiful thing to do together because I’m in Australia and she’s in the UK, we actually did a lot of our work by Skype, so my evening or her mornings would be spent going through the book and talking about the process and it certainly brought us closer. So that was one of the main motivations for us writing the book, although I’m not sure we knew it at the beginning stage.
So getting started, how do you begin? I think at the beginning you want to do a mind map or a scoping exercise to workout out it is you’re actually writing. I can imagine many of you might be working a family memoir of some sort, or maybe you’re doing a memoir which involves genealogy research, or memoir.
So I think at the beginning you really want to work out what is going to be in your story, and that can take some time. Certainly, we put together a big spreadsheet of all the journeys that my parents have done in Stanley, the Land Rover and we filled that spreadsheet. And in the beginning, that fantastic beginning energy, when anything seems possible. We thought we would write a whole series of books about my parents travels, and in fact, it’s taken us four years to just write one of them, which was the first big journey from London to Cape Town. But at least it gave us a sense of the landscape and what areas we wanted to focus on.
And I think at the beginning it’s a good idea to cast your net wide and think about all the areas you could write about and then focus in on one or two. So how do you focus in? Whenever I teach memoir or travel memoir I like to talk about the thread of the story. This is also known as the through line or the spine of the story.
I like to ask people to imagine opening their wardrobe, you open your wardrobe and there’s a metal bar and on that metal bar are all these hangers and your clothes hang on these hangers. But that metal bar is like the spine or thread and it literally like a thread pulls you through the narrative. The clearer you are on your thread at the beginning of writing a narrative nonfiction book, the easier it is to write because if you know what the thread of your story is, you start to know what to bring to the foreground and what to leave in the background and people often ask me, “I don’t know what my thread is, should I start writing anyways?”
The answer is “Yes” however I think you need to keep coming back and asking yourself, “What is the strongest storyline here?” And then easy way to do that, or an easier way, is to turn it into a question. So in fiction there’s something called the MDQ, or the major dramatic question and that is the question that your protagonist essentially starts with this question by the end of the story, that question has been answered. So very simply, in fiction, this could be, “Does the boy get the girl?” That’s a romantic book or romantic movie. By the end of the book or story, we know whether the boy gets the girl. So you can also do this with narrative non-fiction or memoir.
So in the case of my parents journeys, it did take quite a bit of time before we figured out what our major dramatic question was and it really came down to, “Did my parents succeed in driving from London to Capetown in their Landrover called Stan and did they flourish in their relationship and what was the impact of that journey on them as a couple?” So as you can see, there’s sort of three parts to that major dramatic question and you can simplify it for sure.
So when you’re beginning, think about what the through line is, or what the major dramatic question and it may not come immediately but if you keep coming back  it it will help you figure out what needs to go into the story and actually what doesn’t need to go into the story.
I think the other really useful thing to do in the beginning is just actually write out your chapter headings, particularly for narrative non-fiction or non-fiction in general. It’s quite easy to plan out what your chapter headings are going to be ahead of time and then again you’ve got a bit of a roadmap.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about how you work with a family member. So I think one person has to be in the driving seat, as it were, and that’s mainly because if one person directs the project it actually is easier. So because I’m a professional writer and writing is what I do, my mom isn’t a writer although she has kept journals all her life, it was obvious that it was going to me who was going to be driving the project. I think it’s easier that way.
Of course you can do everything together, and I do know of writers who’ve co-authored books together where one person has written one chapter and the other person has written the other chapter. So do you do alternate chapters, that’s one way to do it.
Another way to do it is to have one main voice and then the other person writes sections but ultimately it is all told through one singular voice. Again, those are the sorts of questions you want to have at the beginning and sure it might evolve as you go, but I think the clearer you are at the beginning about that sort of thing the easier during the actual process of writing.
And also, at the beginning you want to think about how you’re going to divide the work up. Is one person going to do more of the research and the other person the writing? Are you going to try and keep it half-half, etc, that sort of thing. And, it might simply be, say if you’re working with an elderly family member and you’re collecting his or her memories then it’s likely going to be one person just driving the story, doing all the research process and then writing it and the other person is the person who’s being interviewed.
If you’re doing it with a family member who isn’t a writer I think it’s also really important to make sure they feel involved so with my mom, she did a lot of the smaller bits of research that we needed for the story about different countries in Africa, the politics during the time that she and my Dad, Tony, travelled through Africa.
So she did a lot of that side of things. She also collected the photos because photos were part of the final book. And she spoke to other members of the family about him, other friends who were part of some oath trips that thy made and so she did different aspects to the writing than I did however I always made sure that anything I changed or anything I wrote she always checked and she was happy with and so many of the sections we did together but some sections I just wrote myself. But always with her guidance or her checking. So that’s the first part.
So you’ve got motivation, and then getting started. And I thought now it might be nice if you’d like to see a photo of my mom so you can identify with her so I’m just going to share my screen and show you a picture of her and then a picture of us. Because I think it’s always nice to actually see the person and I might just have to come back to that. Here you go, hopefully you can see this, it’s a picture of my mom in a beautiful colourful outfit. And so her name’s Patricia but actually in the book, she’s known as Wink, Wink’s her nickname so I’ll probably refer to her as Wink.
Okay, so you’ve got started, you’ve got a bit of a rhythm going. What happens next? The actual writing begins. So in the case of my mom we were really lucky as I mentioned because she’s written journals all her life and during their travels in Africa she wrote every evening and so we had those journals essentially as a first draft. And for any of you who are writing about your ancestors and you’ve got some letters perhaps or you’ve been researching genealogy those are often going to be your first draft of whatever it is you’re writing.
Now my mom’s writing is notoriously difficult to read and I’m just going to show you what it actually looks like. There you go, I hope you can see that. As you can see, it’s a particular style, and in the end, the process that we went through and this was a time, this did take time, but, in the end it really paid off was I had photocopies of all the journals and when I went back to Australia, via Skype, she actually read the journals out to me and I transcribed them on the screen as she was talking I was typing. So, yes,that did take time, however three really lovely things came out of it.
First of all, it was a process of understanding her journey in her words. Secondly, it gave me insight into how she thought and how she writes and how she thinks which was really useful in the writing process and lastly, it actually bought us closer, I think and often when we were doing this process we would be in fits of laughter. It was very funny and even though I was always conscious of the fact that she was talking about my dad and my dad had recently passed away and I would often check in with her that she was fine to talk about that we really had a lot of fun doing it.
So once we had transcribed the sections of the journal that we knew would be relevant and we knew that because we were clear on what our thread was or our major dramatic question, so some bits of the journal we knew we wouldn’t need so there was no point in transcribing them. So again, this goes back to the clearer you are on what the thread is, the easier it is to pull together the entire non-fiction book.
Once we got a first draft together we then started working out how to turn it into a narrative and once of the big issues when you’re writing memoir or travel memoir is that there’s a lot of narration. If you think about how you write a journal you simply just write what happened. You don’t write it as scenes. And there’s tendency to have writing which sounds a bit like this “And then I woke and then we set off and then we drove and then and then and then.” Now, that’s not very interesting for a reader. So, at that point, I think it’s really helpful to think about what are the key moments in your story what are the key turning points in your narrative.
Is there an obvious climax and for this you can use very usefully something like the three act structure, the dramatic structure where you have an obvious peaks and troughs in the narrative and you can look at someone like Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, he talks a lot about this arc type of story that has been used again and again in fiction but actually works quite well in narrative non-fiction and memoir. And I think the most important thing to remember at this point is “What’s your thread? What’s going to keep the reader reading?”
Inevitably it means that sections of the story that my mom really enjoyed actually had to go because they were too repetitive. And that was probably one of the hardest things I think for her to accept and I totally understand that because my first travel memoir called Last Seen in Lhasa I was exactly the same. When my editor came back t me and said I had to cut out sections of my journey, I remember thinking “No, no, I’ve got to have everything in there, the reader’s got to know everything”
And of course, the reader doesn’t have to know everything. The most important thing is to keep the reader turning the pages. If you can do that, then you’re going to have a happy reader. So, when you take the narrative from first draft to second draft and then to third draft, you’re really looking at tightening, at shortening, and most importantly, you’re thinking about where the big scenes are. Where are the big moments that you need to show in a moment by moment experience for your reader.
And this is essentially where you’re moving between narration which is telling, into showing which of the scenes and I’m sure all of you are very familiar with “Show not tell.” However, if you’re working with a family member who isn’t so familiar with that, again, that’s a bit of a learning curve and so working with my mom I needed to keep reminding her about, “What did this moment look like? What did it feel like? What was going through your mind at this point? Were your hands clammy? Were you nervous?”
And my mom and dad, pretty stoic, they’ve travelled across Africa, they’ve had guns waved in their faces, and my mom just kind of kept going with a smile and when I’d say to her, “Were you nervous?” She’d laugh and say, “Well, I was a bit nervous, but I don’t really talk about that stuff.” And I’d say, “But for a reader to experience that you were a bit nervous that’s important, they need to kind of feel that what was going on for you, even if it’s only once in the story and it’s a few more times than just once.”
So I think if you’re working with a family member who’s not used to talking about their feelings perhaps , or not used to describing them in a way that you need to, on the page, you’ll probably find you need to try different methods of getting them to think about it like that and for me, it was always coming back to, “So what did that feel like for you? Remember we’ve got to show the reader moment by moment what it was like as you approached the first big bog hole as it as Zaire” and this bog hole was the length of three double decker buses end to end and they had to drive their Landrover through it. And they had no idea whether they’d get to the other end.
So at this point, in a way, if you’re driving the project, you’re probably likely to be a bit of a coach to your family member unless they are also writers themselves. So I think you just want to remember that. The other thing that really helped for us was thinking about dialogue. So again, even though the journals provided an excellent first draft of the story, they’re all written in narration, they didn’t have dialogue in them, so we needed to recreate that dialogue so I would always be asking my mom, “What did you say at that point? What did my dad say? Can you remember how he might have acted?”
Of course I know his gestures but she and him had their own gestures that they would do together so really you’re also trying to recreate that relationship in a way that’s very vivid and lifelike on the page. So we did this process via Skype because I’m in Australia and she’s in the UK. And then we also had bursts of time when I was over in the UK and she came over to Australia about two years into the project and where we actually sat next to each other and worked through sections.
Now I think if we had been living next door to each other we probably would have finished the book in less time, but there you go. This is the reality for us. So, I think if you do live close to your family member then it’s really helpful if you just try and keep up the momentum. And inevitably, there’s going to be peaks and troughs where life gets in the way or perhaps you’re working on other projects but the more you can keep going with it once a week, twice a week, it just keeps put that momentum and I think that really helped us.
At this point, when you’re in the process, so this is the middle stage of writing it can be really helpful to get help from other family members so once we’re done a couple of drafts and we felt that it was actually going somewhere as a book, I gave it to my sisters, I’ve got two older sisters, jane and sarah and I gave it to their husbands and they read the manuscript for us and they helped give advice on which bits they thought worked, they just didn’t sound right, they were particularly helpful with the dialogue, where they thought the dialogue sounded a bit fake, or the dialogue just didn’t have that same flow.
They were really helpful with that sort of thing. And also, in making suggestions about “Let’s have a bit more of this, a bit more drama here, or we want to know what they were actually feeling when the police shined a torch in their eyes, that sort of thing. So you definitely want to involve other family members because they are then part of the project and I think that’s important particularly when it gets to the point where you’re not sure if you can ever finish it and I’m sure any of you have written a book before, you’ve gotten to that point before.
The other helpful strategy at this point is to get somebody who’s not connected to the book to read it as well. I’ve actually got a friend who’s a writer, and a former newspaper editor to read it. And he made some really helpful suggestions. He suggested that we start the book in a more dramatic moment than where we had started it. We started it as they were leaving Marseilles on the boat to Algiers in Africa and he suggested, why don’t we actually start it when they were in the Sahara, which totally makes sense, you want to start in media res or in the middle of the dramatic action. And he also made some other really good suggestions and he said that the last third of the book really lost its way and if we were serious about trying to get this published then we really needed to work on that.
And for me that was a bit of a wake up call. Because by that point we’d been working on it for quite a while. I really felt that it was a great story and I really felt people would enjoy reading about this story but I knew then that in order to get it to a level that I felt happy with and to a professional level it would require a considerable amount more work. And I”ll be honest with you, at this point I had several projects on the go, I was starting a new business, I was writing my second novel and this project with my mom even though I was totally enjoying it and loving it, I kept finding it kept slipping to the bottom of the list and I felt guilty about this.
And that’s the other thing that you need to remember if you’re working with a family member, it’s not just going to be that professional contract that you have with other people. There’s always going to be the emotions involved. And I knew that mom was feeling a bit frustrated because we weren’t getting onto it as quickly as she’d hoped and I kept saying I was going to do things on it and then not doing things and then I felt worse, so one day, I decided, okay, I just need to treat it like another job and at this point, probably getting a contract or coming up with a simple contract with the family member would be a really good idea and I know that the wonderful Joanna Penn has talked about this because she’s written a series of romance novels with her mom and I haven’t got a contract with my mom for this book, but it is something that we’ve talked about and I am going to do one with her even though the book is finished.
So, at this point I would encourage you all to just think about that side of things as well Just because then it’s down in writing whatever you decide you’re going to do, however you’re going to work it. But for me at that point, I said to her, look, I need to treat it as a job, and I’m wondering if you can pay me to do some hours on it just as my other clients, my mentor clients pay me and that was really hard for me to ask her. Now in the end, she never actually pay me, because I didn’t actually want the money, I just wanted to trick myself almost to have that carrot and stick approach in order to keep working on it. And so I kept telling her that I was making a note of all the hours that I was spending on it and in the end she didn’t actually pay me any money, she paid me in kind.
And I think that was a really good solution because it just meant that it alway stayed at the top of my list. So if you’re finding that I think you just need to find creative ways to work around it, to know that you’ve got to keep writing to get to the end. So during a middle phase of writing it can be hard to maintain that momentum. So I think that carrot and stick approach is very helpful. And at then end of this presentation I’m going to share a few photographs of my mom and I at different phases in the writing process.
So, by this time we were into draft 3, we’d had some input from other people and remember that if you have input from other people it is really helpful and you do need to take the time for that to happen so if you are going to get other family members to read your memoir or whatever you’re working on, make sure you include how long that’s going to take you. You need to give people a month normally in order to read a manuscript. So, there’s quite a few other things you want to be thinking about at this stage.
You’re into stage 3, perhaps into draft 4 and now you’re starting to think about the title and the cover and editing and that sort of thing. So you do feel like you’re getting towards the end. I think at this point it’s also really helpful to think about somebody you can ask who is an expert in the area.
So for us, we wanted someone who is a real expert in Africa and we were very lucky to get Mark Doyle who is the former BBC correspondent for Africa to read the manuscript and to give us some really expert advice on and tweak things where we hadn’t got it quite right. And again, I’d really encourage you, if you’re going to get someone involved whether it’s a historian or whatever you need in order to make sure the book is accurate, get them involved early because we probably got Mark involved a bit too close to the end when we thought we’d finished and in fact, he went through and gave us the most rigorous edit I’d ever had on anything I’d ever written and at that point, I really thought I was going to lose my mind because I thought we had nearly finished and yet we hadn’t got to the top of the mountain.
And I’m just going to find a photograph of that so you can see us in a slightly unguarded moment. So, at this point, you want to be thinking about how you can really, here we go, this is us, my mom had come to Australia to come on holiday for about three weeks over Christmas and I’d rented a cottage for us to finish the book and here we were finishing the last edits from our expert reader, Mark Doyle and as you can see I’d slightly lost it by that point but you know it is important to get that sort of advice because if you do get that sort of advice from someone it just makes the whole book that much stronger and I’m just going to show you another picture of us as we were going through the pages, page by page and at this point we were really were into the final edits and both of us looking slightly punch drunk there even though we were just drinking cups of tea.
So I think it’s important to keep them momentum at this point and I’m always saying to writers, you know you do almost have to trick yourself to keep going to the end whether it’s cake, whether you book yourself a little holiday. The other thing that can really help is booking 2 or 3 nights away in a B & B somewhere, we spent a few weekends at my sister’s house in Norfolk and I just think going away and immersing yourself in the project is often really effective because you actually get right into the story line and we certainly got a lot of work done by doing that and we did that quite a few times, every few months whenever we could and I was over in the UK.
So this point we’re getting to the stage of finishing it, we’re going through those drafts. Remember it’s going to take a bit longer than you think. And we’re starting to get covers drawn up. So we used a cover designer in the UK called Bernie Stevens who did some covers for us and I’ll show you them in a minute and at this point also I hired a professional copy editor to go through it, somebody who had actually worked on my first book, Last Seen in Lhasa, so it was a copyeditor I knew and I think it’s important to get a copy editor that you feel comfortable with.
And you might need to interview 2 or 3 to find someone that really works for you because everybody’s got a particular style and similarly we also got a proofreader who I’d worked with previously and she was fantastic. Both English because the book’s very much an English voice, and even though I’m in Australia I wanted to use English editors. It’s the nuances that are really important here when you come down to the editing process.
So we had it professionally copyedited, we paid for that process, same with the proofreading process. And then we were thinking about design and how to do the self publishing. So I hadn’t self-published before because my books had been traditionally published, so rather than do it ourselves, which is obviously one option, I decided to go with a publishing company in the city called Longville Publishing, and they did all the typesetting for us and I thought that was a really good move because it meant that we didn’t have to worry about all of those decisions and to be honest, I felt like at this point it was just this massive project that we just needed to get to the end I was really happy to hand over that sort of process to somebody else but obviously you do need a budget for that. If you don’t want to do that there are many options.
You can do things like Vellum, that can be a way to typeset your pages or createspace so lots of different options there but we decided to go with a company to do that and in order to get some feedback and to get some interest in the book, and this, we’re now into the final stage, we’re now into the finishing and getting published stage, I think it’s a great idea to harness through your social media networks, so we put our different cover designs on my author Facebook page and I also showed among friends and we got loads of people interested that way. I think it was a really good way to do pre-publicity.
We also crowdsourced the title of the book, the Baboon in the Bedroom and the full title is Across Africa In A Land Rover Called Stan, so again, it was partly to get people to get people involved but it was also to get a wider team together and for my mom, this was really exciting because even though she’s not actually on Facebook, so I was doing all of this, it was exciting for her to feel like we were getting to the end and there was all this interest in the book.
So in the end, we decided to get it printed in the UK and we used a lovely printer that’s been around since the 1890s in Wales called Goma and we decided to do that because it was actually cheaper to get the book traditionally printed, like not traditionally printed but as a paperback version in the UK, it was cheaper to do that than in Australia and they did a beautiful job and they bound it and they included the photos and even that in itself was quite a big project to manage and luckily our proofreader, a wonderful woman called Sarah Able sort of shepherded it through that process, the printing process to make sure that everything was as it should be.
So at this point you want to remind yourself that writing a book, co-authoring a book, with a family member is one part of the puzzle, I guess, but actually to get it to completion, particularly if you’re going to do a print version, not just an ebook version, you are likely to enlist other people’s help and if you’re good at project managing then that’s great, but if you’re not then it’s certainly helpful to bring in someone who knows about this sort of stuff. So, I’m going to wrap up soon but I wanted to just talk a bit about a few of the pitfalls and potholes and then the benefits that can come out of this sort of process.
So a couple of pitfalls is just remember when you’re working with a, it’s not really a pitfall but it’s something to be aware of. When you’re working with a family member, you are likely to have very different working styles. I tend to be quite fast, I write all the time and so for my mom, sometimes it was too much. There was this kind of disconnect really between how I would go about things and how she would like to go about things. And I think you just need to be aware of that and moderate your own pace perhaps if it doesn’t suit the family member who you are working with.
The second thing is just to keep communicating. Even if things aren’t going well, especially if things aren’t going well, it’s just important to talk about things as they come up rather than leave things to fester. We never did that but I could see that it is the sort of thing that could trip you up.
I think, thirdly, it’s about not just making it about you and that family member if you can, getting other people involved because particularly towards the end you need that support from other people because that’s what will help you get over the line.  I am a great believe that people who actually finish books are those who have a community behind them. With many of the authors that I’ve worked with that’s often been the difference between failure and success. The ones who don’t have that support are the ones often who don’t actually finish.
So, I now just want to talk about the wonderful things that have come out of this book and I think you must never underestimate the impact that a book can have to someone’s life. Because a book is like a platform, a book is a doorway, a book gives incredible sense of pride to people. And whether that book is actually published independently or whether you just do a 50 print run for your family. It really does give a real uplift to people.
Since the book was published, and I will share at the end some photographs of my mom during her book launch, we had a lovely book launch at home, she’s gone on to speak at a literary festival in Thames, and she’s sold books like that. She’s done various talks and that’s something that we’re working on together to expand. The book’s now on Amazon so even though it’s not selling hugely, it is getting out there and every so often she gets emails from readers who really enjoy it and probably that side of the process I need to do more on, I’ll be completely frank about that but it’s really given her a new sense of self I think. She’s got a card with her name and the book on it and the title author, sometimes when she’s in the village or she’s going about her business doing the shopping she’ll meet someone who’s read the book and I can just see how much joy that gives her.
And then the other measure of success and at the end I think you really need to ask yourself, what is the measure of success here? Is it about trying to sell 500 copies and really, for her, her biggest measure of success is sharing this story with her family, with her grandchildren, and then learning new things about there and my dad and also, really celebrating my dad’s life, and he was an extraordinary man. So I think from all of those points of view the book’s really been fulfilling. So that’s very much the pleasure side.
From the profit side, we haven’t made our return yet and the publicity in that side of things I think is another whole step of really making the most of it, we certainly use Facebook, I drive a lot of that, we also put together a reader magnet which is a photo essay of pictures from the Serengeti in Tanzania that we offer to readers and we share with readers to say thank you to anybody who’s posted a review on Amazon, but the publicity side, I admit, I’ve sorted of been distracted again by finishing this other project now and it’s something that I’m going to get back to.
So I really hope that this has been useful. It took us 4 years, I think it could have taken us less, however, I think like anything, it had its times when it was more than just a creative project. It was about connection, it was about understanding, and I just feel so much closer to her and I feel this incredible sense of knowing more about my parents and their marriage and their love and I think that the whole book is infused with that.
So whatever book you’re going to be working on with your family member, really enjoy the process and be prepared for the wild ride, it probably will be a bit of a ride and I hope you enjoy the process and you get as much satisfaction out of it as my mom, Patricia Scobie, and I have.
Thank you so much, any questions please email me. All my details will be with the presentation or please share anything about the book on social media and I’m now going to show you, of course, the final version, A Baboon in the Bedroom and I’ll also share with you some of the different covers we went through and that sort of thing so you can kind of get a sense of the process. Thank you so much.


Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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