As you know, I’m just getting ready to launch Don’t Panic! A Practical Guide to Twins, Triplets & More. After discovering Mummy Tries’ posts about her experience writing a book (which you can buy on Amazon), I was inspired to write a little behind-the-scenes for anyone that is interested in how I’ve pulled things together and what hurdles I’ve had to overcome to get this far.
Where it all began…
Ever since I found out I was expecting multiples – back in 2009 – I knew I needed to write this book. There was a gap in the market for a book written by parents of multiples and I decided I would be the person to write it. I was busy working as a freelance writer and had twin babies, so it was something I started to work on here and there. Collecting the data and getting the ideas together was easy. Even organising the huge amount of content wasn’t difficult. But then came the task of learning how to approach agents.
I went along to writing conferences and read everything I could find online. I produced a really detailed proposal and a razor-sharp pitch. I hadn’t written the whole thing by this point – just the first few chapters. I was hoping to get a book deal first to pay me to complete the project.
I was able to get a couple of meetings with agents. They all loved the proposal, the concept and my writing style but felt that there wasn’t enough of a market for the book to take me on. They said that unless I was a “Gina Ford-style parenting guru” then I wouldn’t sell enough copies for it to be worth it to them. I couldn’t decide whether to be disheartened or happy – they loved what I’d come up with but weren’t able to take me further.
It was then that I realised that the traditional publishing industry didn’t ‘get it’. Parents of multiples don’t need to hear from another parenting guru or celebrity that doesn’t have multiples – they need to hear from parents that have been there and lived through it already. I wasn’t writing it to make a million pounds (if only!); I was writing it because it felt like the right thing to do – to support the next generation of families of multiples by giving them the information that wasn’t available to me when I was expecting. And do you know the biggest thing the agents totally missed? That parents of multiples are already a community – we’re kind of like a secret society of hard-core, supportive mums and dads that do what we can to get behind each other because we have something incredible and special in common and we love to help each other succeed. I realised if I could harness that kind of grassroots marketing then this book could sell through word of mouth at twins clubs without a big name or big marketing budget attached to it – because people would be recommending it due to the content being valuable rather than the fact it was written by somebody famous. At that point I went ahead and wrote the rest of the book.
I took a break from things as we moved from the UK to Australia (as life just got way too complicated for about 18 months), then when we were settled into our new home I decided enough was enough. This book was too important to leave on the shelf. By this point it just needed one final edit and all of the tech setting up to make it happen.
Writing the book was actually the easiest part of the whole process. It’s the other stuff that has taken a lot more time and energy.
The tech involved in launching the book myself has TERRIFIED me. Honestly. I think it was a big reason I took so long to get the book out – I had no idea how to launch a book, how to give my readers the best experience possible or how to distribute it. A friend who runs his own publishing company had offered to put my book out for me many times (which I really appreciated), but I knew that if I wasn’t getting a traditional paying publishing contract then I wanted to go it alone and figure it all out myself.
Learning new skills
For the past 12 months I’ve spent my spare time listening to podcasts, reading blogs, going to conferences, taking online courses, listening to webinars and generally sucking up as much content about being an digital entrepreneur as I possibly could. I’ve learnt more in the last year than I have in the last 20, not just about publishing a book but about project launches and about all aspects of running a digital business. I’ve now got my favourite 10 or so entrepreneurs whose content I follow closely and I’ve found my favourite entrepreneur Facebook groups that have a friendly, inspiring vibe. I can’t believe how accessible it is now to learn new skills – I’m a huge believer that you need to evolve and grow throughout life; studying isn’t something you should stop when you finish college or university. And the best part is you can learn masses online for FREE in your own time (I listen to webinars and podcasts while doing the house work and driving back from school). Of course, the paid courses are great too if you have the funds, but often entrepreneurs have a book for $5 that covers most of the things they go into in their course which gives you the basics (just without the community of the course Facebook group which is often extremely valuable to keep you accountable).
While going through this massive self-development exercise, I refined and edited the book a couple more times. I also created a ‘Twin & Triplet Tookit’ as a bonus download for readers that gives practical worksheets and checklists to help with things like packing your hospital bag, writing a birth plan wish list and logging feeds. I signed up to MailChimp and got my head around the tech involved in setting up a newsletter. I figured out how to set up subscription boxes on my site to collect emails, and worked out how to set up an email automation series so I can message new followers.
I set up a little twin and triplet group on Facebook so I could get direct input from real parents of multiples as I approached the book launch. They helped me pick the totally gorgeous cover photo of my boys (which was taken by the very talented Jan at Essential Images) amongst many other things – thanks guys! I paid to get the book professionally edited (thanks to fellow twin-mum Joanne Brady who I can’t recommend highly enough for any social media, writing or editing work – in fact go and buy her book, How to Make a Living From your Social Media Skills now!), and then I bought access to Adobe InDesign to format my book. I was scared of learning how to use it (I’ve never used Photoshop or any other design packages) but I’d been told via a number of professionals that it was the best software to create a professional book. I bought a book template that came with a step-by-step guide and I got my head down and learnt how to use the new software. I won’t lie – there were times I wanted to throw my laptop out of the window, but I stuck with it and thanks to YouTube and Google, I figured it out and it looks GOOD!
After getting some pretty terrible cover designs done on Fiverr (just to see what the different cover designers on there would come back with), I appointed a professional designer (Angie B Studio – another awesome find thanks to a call out I did on Twitter). I’m so pleased that I did as her design style is exactly what I was looking for. As a creative, I can totally appreciate that you need to invest in quality work and I’m pleased I didn’t settle for the Fiverr designs as they just didn’t show off the book to its full potential.
I’ve hit plenty of tech hurdles along the way that have caused delays, but since I started my big push on the book last August, the biggest delays have been down to being a work at home mum. The kids have been so ill over the last few months – fevers, tonsillitis, impetigo (twice!!) and it has meant me taking so many days off work to look after them. When you work part-time in the home you’re the obvious choice to be the one to drop everything. I totally get it and we’re lucky that Hubby has a full-time job working shifts, but it does mean that most of the time my work takes third place behind the kids’ needs and behind his job. It’s not like I can get up an hour or two earlier to start work either because E is a terrible sleeper (which means, by default, I am too) plus the kids are usually up by 5.30am and I’m generally woken up then to referee the first fight of the day. I’m sure lots of other work at home mums can appreciate these challenges. But while they are challenges, I also feel very privileged to be able to take this time out and move my own deadlines around so that I can be there for them when they need me. That has always been one of my main reasons for being self-employed and they will always come first for me.
The biggest thing to come out of this process is that I’ve changed my career direction. All the learning I was doing made me realise I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I always have been – not a freelance ghost writer or copywriter. I’ve decided I don’t want to spend all of my time writing for others anymore (other than travel writing for magazines like Australia & New Zealand magazine, which is something I still love to do); I want to write my own content and run my own creative projects.
In November last year, I was lucky enough to be awarded a Queensland home-based business grant that paid for a series of business coaching sessions which has helped me flesh out my ideas into a more serious business plan.
So, here I am. I’ve pretty much stopped writing for clients now. It naturally wound up as projects finished and I didn’t seek out new contracts. I’m really excited about launching my first book and I know it will be the first of many. After this I’ll be focusing on creating a new website aimed at helping families make the move from the UK to Australia.
I’ve finally found my passion – it’s not just ‘writing’, it’s writing content that offers support, helps people through challenges and helps people to feel part of a community. The business coaching sessions I had really helped me to understand that (thanks Jenna Black!)
Life and business goals
My long-term goal is to be a lifestyle entrepreneur. To be able to work when I like, where I like, on a business that I love and that makes a real difference to people’s lives. I want to be around for my kids when they need me, and I want to earn enough money to allow me to make a difference in the world (whether that means donating funds to charity or freeing up my time so I can give that more freely). I finally feel like I’m on the right track.
I’m really looking forward to sharing more of my entrepreneurial journey on this blog. There’s so much work to get through, but nothing worth doing is easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it 🙂
Don’t Panic! A Practical Guide to Twins, Triplets & More – Launching SOON
And keep your eyes peeled for the book – I’m just waiting on a couple of things to fall into place before I send it out into the big wide world. I’m so excited, and I hope you’ll help me to spread the word.
Do you work from home, if so, what do you find the most challenging aspect of it? If you don’t, is it something you’d like to do one day? I’ve love to gauge how many of my readers are interested in me writing about being a work at home mum running a digital business.