Wednesday, 27 February 2013

#ReadItMD13 - Fiona Woodhead, author of 'Once Upon a Slime" on self publishing, and how the slimy story started.

 We're very fortunate to be able to host a guest blog post from Fiona Woodhead, author of "Once Upon a Slime" as part of our #ReadItMD13 campaign theme week - "Self Publishing / Independent Publishing" - So over to you Fiona!

Since self-publishing my first children picture book in November (2012) I have lost count of how many people have said that it is has always been a dream of theirs to write a children's book. Randomly this dream had never even entered my head. Being a designer of nursery products my dream was more along the lines of designing a baby changing bag that Posh Spice got snapped using in 'Heat' magazine.

Whilst I was on maternity leave with my second small human in 2010 I had a brilliant idea for my lovely dad Howard for Christmas.

My dad is a father of four and it was his role to tuck us all up in bed and tell us a bedtime story. It was either a Richard Scarry book or a made up story about three gruesome and funny slimy slugs. These stories used to make us roll in bed with laughter when the slugs carried out such horrid adventures that mainly focused around dog or cow poo!

So I set about writing and illustrating a picture book for my dad's ultimate christmas present. The story was a long way from what the book is now but the characters of the slugs remained consistent (slimy and gross).

After sending a few copies off to publishers and agents and receiving very complimentary letters about the book, they were all obviously rejections. My dad and I pondered for some months about what to do. It seems a far fetched idea to actually get a book printed and into retailers.

It came to October and it was my birthday and just suddenly had a feeling of: "stop faffing and just go for it". What is the harm of getting a small print run made to show to shops and schools? I knew it was going to cost a couple of hundred pounds, but thought what the hell and decided to go for it.

I contacted a couple of local printing companies and searched on Google and found a printer that wasn't going to break the bank. I did have to set up my own Publishing Company to obtain ISBN barcodes, but it is only a few simple forms (just like filling in to join a doctors!).

It took just three weeks from making that decision to then sit looking at 250 copies of the 'Once-upon-a-slime… a garden tale about Max and three slugs" books. It is was brilliant! The smell of the books was delicious and I couldn't believe how real they looked! So I quickly set up my website (using moonfruit as its free and the once-upon-a-slime Facebook page)

Slitter Slug, slimy superhero!

Within two months (Christmas did help) all the first print run had been sold and I now sit looking in the hallway at 1000 books (the husband isn't as impressed with our new furniture in the hall of 10 brown boxes) but I am hoping that they may one day be sold and living instead in small peoples bedrooms.

It is scary thinking of spending money on what could potentially be a disaster. But it's so true: you don't know until you try. Until you get some books in your hands and pop into your local shops, you don't know what will happen. The first shop I went into is my favourite shop of all time. A little gift shop on the outskirts of Halifax, Gallery 339. This is where I go often to buy presents and I basically rambled onto the owner about how I love her shop and would love her to stock my book. I don't think I even made any sense and I left the shop feeling like a sweaty fool who had just talked the nice lady to death about stupid slugs and my dad?! I'm not sure this is the best selling technique however the owner did ring me and place an order for the book! And every time we drive past the shop, myself and my two small people wave to the slugs.

Now my dreams have changed. Rather than Posh spice carrying one of my baby changing bags, I would now love to see her photo in Heat Magazine reading a slimy slug book to her children!

Once Upon a Slime. Hey, how did the Booksniffer get in there?

"Once Upon A Slime" is available from the slithery slimy and slugtastic Website

Please also stop by the "Once Upon A Slime" Facebook page for great activities and posts