This is the first part in my ‘Truth behind’ series and what better than to mark the three year anniversary of my first book release than to share all the nitty gritty with you on here!
So, I’ve been asked many a time, how I managed to write and publish my books and the process I went through in order to make them a success, how many I’ve sold, how profitable it has been, etc.
I will point out first of all, that I didn’t have any knowledge of publishing (self or traditional), or of putting the damn thing together and how much work that would be, particularly when you have your heart set on colour photographs throughout! I did however, have a background career in marketing and a husband who is a highly skilled graphic designer and marketing professional too! I also had so much raw passion and determination that NOTHING was going to stand in my way.
First thing’s first
I built the social media channels just 4 years ago, not intentionally to become a business, but by chance to aid it. I loved writing and got better and better at it the more I wrote. I became confident, always writing as I spoke in my mind, putting down all of the daily thoughts I needed to hear to become braver. I often cried reading my own writing back, I knew those posts would always be a success and they usually were.
I had so many reoccurring suggestions from beloved followers of turning my Facebook posts into a book. You see, I didn’t have many close friends and I truly connected with so many of the people on my page that I fell into a spiral of addiction to it. I spent around 30 hours + a week on there some weeks and I just couldn’t believe what I had created for people.
I was never the charitable type. In fact, I was quite introverted and a little selfish back before all of this. I never imagined the buzz I would get from helping someone without any agenda, it was like nothing I’ve ever felt. I remember messages flooding in from people who related to what I was writing, ones that were so heart felt and some just simply soul destroying that I couldn’t let them down.
For 2 years, I had a list of around 10 people that I would check in on daily for fear of them being alone of doing something that they would regret. I felt needed, I felt like I had changed so many people’s lives and I didn’t want it to end there.
How to get your leg over
The first book was a culmination of Facebook posts and new content adding up to 60k words. I downloaded and printed the entire contents of my page and my husband and I sat in a very memorable corner of a local pub with far too much booze and a pack of highlighters and chose the content that would make the cut! I spent 5 weeks retyping the whole thing, filling in gaps, giving the history behind the feelings and spewing my thoughts and feelings into the keyboard of my old PC.
A leopard never changes it’s spots
Everything that I wrote was left completely unedited! Three very good friends proof read for spelling and punctuation but I didn’t want to alter the way the text read. The thing is, the first draft is always the most raw and real. In fact, I didn’t read the book contents back to myself until it was in an actual hard copy book!! But my goodness, when I did, I sobbed and laughed and sobbed some more and I knew what I had was incredibly moving.
Processes and procedures
So, I had the written contents, I knew I wanted photos in there, I also worked with the most amazing illustrator that I met online, Bonny Snowdon. Bonny drew the most amazing chapter headings and followed it up with a beautiful portrait for me to cherish forever as a thank you. It was a truly wonderful moment teaming up with her and I still love the drawings so much.
I then went to a local charity shop and raided the book shelves for a book that I wanted mine to look like! Unorthodox but the reality was, I wasn’t using a traditional book printers so I needed a visual aid to take with me! Armed and dangerously eagre, we set about laying the book out and art-working the cover.
I am very lucky to have a handsomely talented husband whose degree in product design led him into a successful career in marketing and graphic design, this meant that for very little in the way of sexual favours, I had access to a man who could do all the design and layout without costing me a penny!
Next up, I bought the ISBN from Neilsen and built an e-commerce website (also my background) on which to sell it and trotted off to the printers!
Costs vs Profit
The printing (£1.70 per book when you order 3000), postage (£1.52 UK) , packaging (£0.17 for my signature pink parcel bags), and most associated costs depended heavily on size and weight so I worked on the size of a large letter post cost and came up with my dimensions that way! I knew the cost of production then and obviously the more you buy, the cheaper that price becomes.
Having worked with this particular print company for 4 years through my current job, I managed to persuade them to put me on a 60 day account. That meant I had two months to sell enough books to pay them! But I needn’t have worried!
Pre-order Stamping Frenzy
I opened preorders on 23rd April 2017. Offering the first 1000 books signed by both Pat and I, little did I know what I was letting myself in for!
I sold over 2500 (a total revenue ((NOT PROFIT)) of approximately £23,000) copies by 23rd May, the day I finally had the books in my hand. 3000 books were loaded into the back of my husbands VW Golf and that was that!
We then had to stamp 1000 of those with one of Pats shoes and an ink press. Gary and I pulled an all-nighter and every single pre-order was posted within 48hours! I was high on adrenaline and so very nervous about people thinking it was rubbish!
The first reviews
WERE INCREDIBLE. I could cry even now. I was flooded with people messaging telling me how amazing the book was, the lives that it was helping to change, the people that needed a friend, I was that friend and in turn, they were mine. I loved every single one of them, I cherished them all, printing them off and treasuring them to this day. They were all so personal, so many accounts of other people’s battles that I felt so humbled by. I didn’t share any of them unless they were in the public domain and I wouldn’t for as long as I live.
You see, this has never been about money for me, it has never been about cashing in on people’s confidence loss which I have been accused of more than once! It was, and still is, about helping people to not feel alone with their horrid thoughts of negativity, to help them when they don’t know where else to turn. I had a reason to keep going myself and I was not going to let up!
How many have you sold?
By the time second book was ready for pre-orders, I had sold approx 5,500 copies of the first book. To date, the first book has sold over 12,500 copies between my website, the resellers and Amazon. I have also sold 11,000 kindle copies of How to get your leg over.
I have had so few negative reviews despite my sweary disposition and poor use of commas and for that I will always be so very grateful.
The end. Is it ever the end?
Since 23rd April 2017, I have sold almost 20,000 books. I designed, created and sold out of two clothing lines including hoodies, t-shirts, head bands, bravery bands and the famous BRAVE PANTS! Wimpy Eventer has been covered in over 7 double and triple page national magazine spreads with additional articles in over 25 other publications.
My monthly column, ‘Feel the fear and ride anyway’ was published in one of the biggest (and the best) national horsey titles, Horse and Rider UK for a whole year, one of the very best experiences of my life. I have established the Wimpy Weekender camps which will hopefully be running two more this year (Virus lockdowns permitting) and it’s now really coming to life.
I love how something that was ‘just a Facebook page’ is now a brand that is empowering so many people and helping those who don’t mind a bit of raw emotion, to find friendship, confidence and happiness.
This was all I have ever wanted and all I continue to pursue.
I have so many ideas of expansion. Having been invited onto BBC’s Dragons Den last year, I realise what I have is an incredibly viable business. Since having a baby, I have taken a bit of a step back but that is all set to change.
There is a book in the pipelines, two actually. A children’s book rather surprisingly unrelated to ponies and the most obvious one, a ‘no holding back’ account of pregnancy, birth and rural child raising!
The Weekenders will continue to expand and evolve and I will continue creating content in video and written format for my army of loyal supporters to enjoy totally free of charge! There will be audio versions of the Wimpy Trilogy coming this year, probably a podcast or similar and a series of equestrian based training programs being released late summer.
The crux of it is, I’m not done yet. I don’t feel ‘done’. I want to continue to inspire, create and laugh until I cry with you all, in person or online, it’s that that keeps the fire in my heart burning! I’m going to be back out eventing as soon as it’s back up and running and I hope to get Pea in foal this year too!! (BREAKING NEWS!) I have a stallion picked and now I’m just saving up to cover the associated costs before we proceed. Maybe you want to buy shares in her foal?! Maybe this will be the top hat and tails horse I dreamed of having when I was 18 afterall!
Who knows for sure what the future holds, but what I do know is, if you want something enough, manifestation and hard work really do bring it to life.
Here’s to the next three years… get that list written of what you want to achieve and chase it like your pants are on fire. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING IF YOU WANT IT ENOUGH.
Love as always