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My self-publishing journey

Posted in Does it wet the bed?, Media, My writing, Personal, and Uncategorised

At last!  After six long years of drafting, writing, editing and rewriting, my memoir, “Does it wet the bed?” has finally been released on the Kindle Store.  When I started the book, it was a day I didn’t dare to even dream about. I wasn’t convinced that my writing was good enough to be published.

In June 2014, as I began approaching agents and publishers, my confidence dwindled further. As the “Thanks but no thanks” emails took over my inbox, I began to wonder if I should just give up – put down my pen and just focus on my day job – being an Equality and Diversity Trainer.

Then after doing some research, I made a decision.  If I hadn’t secured an agent or a publisher by December 2014, I was going to self-publish my book.  With almost 40 unsuccessful applications, my fate was sealed and I made myself a promise: “Does it wet the bed?” would be released by the end of 2015.

I had a lot of work and many decisions ahead of me!  My first task was to get an editor on board. A Facebook post put me in touch with Norman who, as it turned out, had attended one of my Equality and Diversity courses a few years previously. Norman had experience of self-publishing and proved to be more than just an editor, guiding me through the process and offering invaluable advice on everything from legal issues, formatting, pricing and marketing.  Once Norman had completed the editing, he put me in touch with a colleague who helped me format the book. I began to realise that the world of self-publishing wasn’t about what you knew but who!

Whilst the final touches to the book were in progress, I attended a Self-Publishing Conference at the University of Leicester. I had no idea what my next steps should be and without the backing of a publisher, I knew I’d have to work hard to publicise the book once it was released. It wasn’t going to just sell itself!  It was at the conference that I met Helen Lewis of Literally PR as she gave a workshop on organising a successful book launch.  I decided that whilst I could do a lot, I wasn’t a marketing genius and so I commissioned Literally PR to publicise my book.

With everything slowly coming together, I could finally look towards setting a release date.  I decided to stage my book’s launch by releasing the kindle version on 31st August, with the paperback following on 30th November – just in time for those Christmas Stockings!  Then I decided that all my hard work was worthy of a celebration and so I’m hosting a Book Launch Party on 17th September at the Holiday Inn, M6, Junction 7, in Great Barr.  With a canapé reception, magician and live music, it’ll be an opportunity to really appreciate what I’ve managed to achieve.  For my guests, it’s an opportunity to buy a paperback copy ahead of its official release in November.

I woke up on Monday morning, able to say, “I’m a published author.”  After so long and so much hard work, it’s a great feeling.  I set myself a goal and I didn’t stop until it was achieved.

Who knows what I could achieve by the end of 2016?!

The Silly Season

Posted in Accessibility, Customer Service, Making a difference, Personal, and Uncategorised

Well, the silly season, as my Dad calls it, is over for another year and although I love Christmas, I can’t say that I’m sorry to see the end of the chaos which always descends upon the high street. Retailers always seem to neglect the needs of disabled customers by cramming in as much as possible and restricting access to tills. Each shopping trip from November onwards becomes more stressful than the last and my patience wears thin, as yet another over enthusiastic shopper fails to look where they’re going and I narrowly avoid running them over!

After boycotting the shops between Christmas and New Year, our supplies were beginning to run low so I braved a trip to our local Aldi. It seemed that the silly season was still in full swing so I decided just to grab the basics and get out! Joining the long queue which didn’t seem to move, I was thankful that I did our big food shops online, from the comfort of our warm and cosy home. No such queues online! Fraught and frustrated, I finally got to the till and paid for my couple of items, and then I hear a small voice. “Is there anything I can help you with?” and I turn around to see a young lad, no older than eight, eagerly awaiting my reply. In all the madness and chaos, this young boy was thoughtful enough to offer a hand. My mood changed completely and I was so touched by his kindness that I accepted his offer and asked him to hang my shopping on the handle of my wheelchair. I thanked him profusely and all the silly season stress was suddenly forgotten. I left the shop smiling and suddenly glad that I’d decided to brave the shop.

Small acts of kindness could reduce everyone’s stress levels and perhaps make next year’s silly season a bit more bearable!

Happy New Year!

Does it wet the bed? 3 Chapters available on Authonomy

Posted in Does it wet the bed?, My writing, Personal, and Uncategorised

After researching quite a bit and talking to other writers and some publishers, I realised that if I want my book to be successful, I have to prove that there is a market for it. But I’d also read that publishers can be put off a book if it has been made public, even partly.

I faced a dilemma and for months, I wrestled with it. I really didn’t want to scupper my chances of getting published but at the same time, I really wanted to show off what I had worked so hard on and hopefully build up what the industry calls a “following“.

So last week, I finally took the plunge and posted the first three chapters of “Does it wet the bed?” on Authonomy.com – a website where writers can post their work and readers can comment on and rate books.

Authonomy is free to use so please go and take a look. Any feedback you have will be gratefully received and will help me to improve my work and hopefully, get it published.

Please note that the website is currently experiencing problems with Internet Explorer so it may be best to access it using Chrome or Firefox.

Thanks for your support!

Does it wet the bed? – Free Wheeling

Posted in Cerebral Palsy, Disability Aids, Disability Awareness, Does it wet the bed?, Fighting for Change, My writing, Personal, and Uncategorised

I’m just putting together a book proposal for “Does it wet the bed?” as even though the  book is almost complete, many agents request a proposal as well as sample chapters.

In doing so, I’ve chosen an anecdote to start the overview so I thought I’d share it here! More to come over the coming weeks.

I was at work and my electric wheelchair had broken down. Again. The phone number for the repair service was down ingrained on my memory and I braced myself for another frustrating conversation as I dialled it.

As I’d expected, there were no engineers available for the next three days. The receptionist really didn’t understand the seriousness of the situation and after so many call outs, I was on the verge of losing my patience. I took a long, deep breathe and asked how she expected me to get home safely that evening. Her response was deadly serious: “Can’t you free wheel it home?” It took me a minute to process what she’d said and I almost asked her to repeat herself, just to be sure that I’d heard correctly. Maybe I had wax in my ears? But no, I’d heard her alright and my blood was absolutely boiling. I had to make my explanation to her crystal clear this time:

“If I was capable of free wheeling an electric wheelchair home or anywhere in fact, I wouldn’t require the wheelchair in the first place, would I?.”

Finally time to look for a literary agent

Posted in Does it wet the bed?, My writing, Personal, and Uncategorised

I’ve been pretty busy over the past few months. As well as working on my campaign to make Great Barr great for Disabled People (Great Barr Accessibility Report), and raising my little boy Jack, I’ve been trying to finalise the first draft of my autobiography.

Although I regularly write articles for my blog and campaign, this is my first book and I’ve been working on it for almost five years, in between working and living life!

Does IT wet the bed?”  tells the story of my life living with Cerebral Palsy and all of the challenges and triumphs along the way.  There have been Headteachers who didn’t believe I could cope with mainstream education; there have been bullies who have picked on me for walking a bit funny. There have also been employers who have discriminated against me because of my disability. But there has also been a 2:1 Honours degree from Oxford Brookes University, as well as a fairytale wedding and my own business. Despite my disability, I’ve achieved almost everything I’ve put my mind too and that’s why I’m writing this book. To show that disabled people are just as capable as anyone else and that if you’re determined enough, anything is possible.

Now that the first draft is almost complete, I have decided to turn my attentions to the huge task of finding a literary agent who is prepared to take me and my work on. After reading the Writers’ and Artists Yearbook 2014, I am not underestimating the time and effort that this will require. There is so much to do in preparation for approaching agents, that it is much more daunting than writing the actual book! I need to prepare a concise synopsis of the book, as well as a chapter summary and research at least five other books which are similar to mine and justify why my book fills a gap in the current market. The list of tasks which lay ahead seems endless!

I’ve invested so much time and effort into the book, that I am absolutely determined that one day soon, it will be available in a bookshop near you!

Right then, where to begin?!