Jun 7 2012

It takes a village … to write a book

Posted by     39 Comments    Posted under: The Snug



Todays little ditty is something I have been wanting to write/blog-all-about for ages. But I did not have enough information to put it all out there so I had to wait. The funny thing about me and waiting, is that we don’t get along very well. I start to get antsy and reckless with my words and want to throw it all out there. But this time, I forced myself to wait, to line up all the key players in our book production and give you a brief synopsis of how it all came to be. Do not worry – it might seem like it could get long winded and even a bit boring to those of you that do not have a book waiting to be written – I have added plenty of photos to keep you entertained.

First, we must thank my Mum (aka Granny) because she is like the third parent to our kids here at home. She is also still a wooden-spoon-yielding ‘Mammy’ to me when I am slacking off or should be trying harder. If it were not for her support, and her constantly reminding that that ‘yes you can’, I am certain I would never have enrolled in college as a mature student. She is my number one fan now, and always has been. I love you Mum x

Photo courtesy of Annie Atkins


Next on the chopping block is my handsome chef, Ron Wise. Of course, and many have already speculated, that there’d be no book without him. That is certainly true. I would not have written a book about ‘him’ if he was not around. I would have probably written a book about the ducks. One thing is certain . . . he and his recipes and his love made me want to write ‘our story’. Now that the story is out there I am even more excited about the next one which he is co-authoring with me. And by co-authoring I mean that I am still writing every word but putting his name on the cover because it is all his recipes. We refrained from doing so with the first book as it was a ‘college project’ and I did not want to get docked any points incase they thought he wrote it for me…..ha ha ha – if the teachers at NUIG ever read the blog they would know full well that ‘I write and he cooks’.

Speaking of universities – mine being NUIG – how many  universities offer students the chance to ‘live the life of a writer’ and actually shell out A LOT of money to pay an excellent editor to offer you guidance though your chosen project? What.An.Amazing.Opportunity. I knew when I enrolled at NUIG, in 2009, that I wanted this opportunity and would take full advantage of what was offered to me. If you are thinking about going to college to learn how to write this is the course for you. My course director, Dr. John Kenny, is one of the best teachers out there. He appears nice on the outside but is pretty harsh when it comes to editing your work and relentless in getting you to pull up your socks and ‘learn better grammar’ … and use less exclamation points! He is the right man for the job, no doubt.

The next player to add to the mix is Eoin Purcell of New Island Press publishing house. I met Eoin several years ago at a Bord Bia event in Dublin. We sat ‘near’ each other for lunch and I thought he was very generous with his tips and information about book writing and blogging. I stored his name to memory and started reading his blog. He is the number one publishing expert in Ireland. I can’t imagine there is anyone else out there that keeps up to date with the rapidly changing publishing industry as well as he does. When it came time for my course director at NUIG to assign me an editor, I asked if I could find my own editor because I needed to work with someone that had experience editing a cookbook. Eoin had worked with famous Irish Food Blogger and TV star Donal Skeehan, so I knew he was the right man for the job. It took a bit of finagling but NUIG and Eoin made it happen. Eoin taught me so much about ‘what’ and ‘how’ to write and also what ‘NOT’ write. He also gave the story ‘structure’. I might never have been able to untangle the words without him.

Another incredibly valuable resource was stumbling upon Emma Sherry, a copy editor that I worked with along the way, and someone who has since become a friend of the family. Emma Sherry, owner of Capital Letters was not afraid to question the way I wrote several pieces. She was  ballsy enough to call me on the pieces that did not need to in the story. I am eternally grateful to her for doing such an excellent job and I can’t wait to get cracking on the next book with her. Incidentally, if you need anything proof read or edited etc. Emma is the gal for you.

Moving on to photos now. Annie Atkins brought ‘us’ into the book and the story came to life. She has such a keen eye for grasping images at just the right moment. Annie spent four days in our home capturing the Chef & I cooking our hearts out and she also created our book cover for us. We love you Annie and can’t wait to see you soon in Galway!

After all the photos and words were lined up we had to find someone to lay it all out and make them look pretty on the page. One of my blogging buddies from right here in Galway told me her husband might be the right man for the job. His name is Ray McDonnell from Link Associates and I think that the book speaks for itself when I say ‘damn, she was right’. Ray took the manuscript and turned it into a book. I did not have to tell him what to do or how to do it. I love working with people like that. Give them a job to do and they do it better than you had hoped or anticipated.

Once Ray was nearing the deadline he put us in touch with the folks over at Castle Print, also in Galway, and we got cracking on negotiating the fee. A sizable chunk of cash is needed to publish and print a book and the largest portion of the cash goes to the printers. So if you are thinking about writing, publishing and printing your own book, shop around and make sure you know how much it might cost. I will have a life-long printing relationship with the folks at Castle Print. They offered us a very fair price and produced an exceptionally lovely book.

The next important player to enter the mix at this stage was the lovely and very talented Carmel Dooley of PR Works.  Carmel, who is connected to everyone in Galway, guided us through the right channels and drafted and sent emails/press releases and invitations to the book launch. I was not sure how a PR firm could really help us out but it all boils down to media contacts and Carmel has her fingers on the pulse of it all …. I cannot recommend her highly enough.

Knowing that the easy part was over (writing the book) and the hard part was just about to begin (selling the book) we made few key decisions that will hopefully be good for the bottom line in the long run. While it would have been nice to go national and have the book in all the large bookshops around the country, the amount of discounts and distribution costs associated with doing that would have left us very much in the red. As a small example, lets say your book is retailing at €15.00. The larger bookstores only purchase the book from the author/publisher at a 55%-62% discount. That means you are selling it to them for €6.30. If you choose to have a large distribution house like Argosy handle distribution of the book then you are loosing another 15% of your book sale price which is another €2.25. So, doing the very basic math here your €15 book (that most likely cost you €7 or €9 to produce) is now actually costing you money to sell. We chose to go local, again, because the discount (35%) was much more manageable for a small publisher like us, and ended up with Kenny’s Book Shop. From the minute I walked in the door, the Kenny’s sales force took over, including Des Kenny himself. They have answered every email and Facebook and blog question all my readers have posed and are border-line stalking all my social media outlets, in the very best possible way. I know that they are earning a commission on the sales of every copy but my god do they earn it! I.Love.Kennys. And cannot imagine being happier with a book selling agent. Oh – and they offer free shipping worldwide so if you have not purchased a copy of the book yet – then you can find it right here!

Please note that the book is also for sale at Cases Wine WarehouseCharlie Byrnes, An Cupán Tae (Galway) and Mortons of Galway and coming soon to McCambridges of Galway and also Sheridans Cheesemongers (Galway).

Speaking of sales and Cases. Peter Boland, owner of Cases wine shop and a very good friend of ours, has to be commended in the role he played offering up his space for our book launch. When the Chef & I started to think about places we could throw such a party, Cases was the first place that popped in to my mind. Mostly because I feel at home there; Think of that what you will. Peter has always made me feel welcome in his store. The wine and beer is just an added bonus. We were delighted with the crowd that showed up to support us last week and hope you all enjoyed the tasty treats that the Chef & I supplied for the evening, paired with the wines Peter had selected to pour for the evening. Thank you Peter. You are a gem.

So there you have it. Quite a lengthy read this time but certainly worth your time if you are thinking about sitting down to write a book and self publish it. Everyone of these vendors listed above has to get paid and you need to factor in all their fees in to your book production costs. We printed 1,000 copies of The Chef & I with the hopes that we would sell all 1,000 copies in the first twelve to eighteen months. Kenny’s started selling the book on May 17th 2012 and to date, including the sales from the night of the book launch and a few other small sales, we have sold just under 300 copies.

If you are just mulling it over … and are not quite sure if you want to splash out and purchase the hardback then why not have a read of the reviews we have received from people who have bought the book with their hard earned cash. If you are still unconvinced then why not download it on to your laptop or Kindle for a fraction of the price! The link to Amazon is here if you have a Kindle and for other eReaders you can download it here on the Kobo site. 

In a few weeks I will blog more about the cost of producing the book, the pricing structure and sales strategies. I just want to get a bit more data collected on sales first. Thanks for tagging along to the end of the blog post. I hope you enjoyed the read and will come back for more!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


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39 Comments + Add Comment

  • Aww… I actually have a tear in my eye! Huge congrats to you, it’s a wonderful book. I’m so happy I was able to contribute something.

    I will hopefully be in town on the 30th, will try to get up to you. x

    • Annie,
      Definitely dinner with us!!
      Now that the dust has settled we can have a bit more fun xx

  • And completely unrelated to THE BOOK…. great photo of Granny and Rory!


    • Isn’t it gorgeous Margaret!
      I love that photo and thankfully they both like it too!
      Raining cats and dogs here. Might float away before morning comes x

  • It’s Link Associates, no and.

    • Duly noted Amee – apologies. ’tis fixed now.

  • Well that is af least fair warming in i ever decide to start writing a book (not likely!) What a lot of work went into your project Mona! And I can say that indeed the people at Kenny’s are fantastic !

    • You know, when I started writing out that blog post I was shocked myself
      at all the people that have had their hand in it. It really is to as simple as sitting down
      at ones desk and just ‘writing’ … But I am very fortunate that I was linked with such terrific
      people. You will get to meet a few of them when you come visit x

  • Dear Wise Mo’na..Just Love seeing you in my mail and Thanks for Everything♥Just Loved reading this and Love the Pic of Your Beautiful Mom and Beautiful Daughter♥ Wish You All The Best and Hope to buy the book soon,Money problems right now!Take Care,Love and Hugs♥

    • Hi Alice,
      Thank you so much for reading and sharing the blog!
      Hang in there, I am sure things will improve soon.
      Móna xx

  • Mona thanks so much for sharing your story of the book, it was far from boring – I was gripped. I had no idea there was so much involved in self publishing! I will also make an effort not to use as many exclamation marks in the future and will look out for a writing course at some stage as it sounds fun for those of us who enjoy tapping the keys, though unlikely to be a degree 🙂 I was 40+ when I went back as a mature student. As an unhappy schoolgirl my return to education was a new experience altogether – I enjoyed every second of my re-learning. Perhaps we have a better appreciation and understanding when we’re older. So now I’ve replied I’m going to order your book before I get distracted again, can’t wait to read it 🙂

    • Hi Dee,

      I know! I do not think I realized it myself until I sat down to line up all the links :0)
      And yes – apparently we all use way too many exclamation marks!! Lovely to know you were a mature student too Dee.
      I do think you look at education totally differently once you have had a few years of ‘work and life’ experience under your belt. Thanks for reading and the lovely comment too – can’t wait to see you again if the rain does not float us away first!

  • Having just ordered your book from Kenny’s I’d just like to add that they have the easiest and most straightforward online shop I have encountered, it was a pleasure to order from them!

    • Dee – those guys at Kennys are 100% professional. They have not missed a beat since we turned the
      sales of the book over to them. I am just so thrilled to have them on board. Thanks for supporting us too.
      I really hope you enjoy the read n’ recipes xx

  • What a great post, Mona, that gives a fantastic idea of what happens behind the scenes of publishing. I’m thoroughly enjoying reading through the book and I’ve a few recipes ear marked to try out real soon!

    • Thank you Nessa. I am glad you are enjoying the read and I am certain you will make a fine job of the recipes.
      There is A LOT of work and effort behind the scenes with the whole publishing end of the book writing. I do not think I
      had any idea how ‘easy or hard’ it might all be but I am kinda exhausted now looking back over it all :0)
      Thank you for supporting the book Nessa. We truly appreciate it x

  • What a creative and effective village it turned out to be. I really like the look of the book: beautiful images by Annie and super design by Link Associates; it has a warm feeling of heritage to it.

    • Thanks Mise. I am glad we went with the hard cover in the end. It does give the book a weighted feel that I love
      especially when trying to wrangle a recipe out of it in the kitchen. We were very fortunate to have met such a creative bunch indeed.
      Like I said … it takes a village. Hope you are staying dry and warm. Blue fingers here, so cold!

  • Gutted I couldn’t make the launch, Mona.I would have loved to have been there n to get to meet some of the clan. What a lovely, lovely tribute to your team. The usually ‘unsung heros n heroines’ didn’t go unsung!

    • You are so right Hester… I never know all the details of who worked on ‘a book’ but what
      I have learned is that you really do need to work with a lot of very different and terribly creative people.
      They almost never get the credit they deserve! Hope all is well on the East coast. The dust is finally settling after the launch xx

  • Great synopsis of the whole process – I’m sure it will be a great help to anyone considering self publishing 🙂

    • I hope so Lorna. I will log a bit more once we have more sales figures in.
      Like I said earlier, the hard part – selling the book – is just happening now
      and we have to find our feet in this one ….

  • Great article, Móna. It gives great insight into the amount of work that has to be done beyond the writing and photographing of the book. Ordered my copy a few days ago and I expect the postman will be bringing it early next week.

    • Like I said in the title…it takes a village for sure.
      I do hope you like the book and am certain that you will love the recipes.
      It is deffinetly your kind of food x

  • Just bought a copy for my sister. She is Cathy Healy’s sister-in-law. Cathy and Seamus are full of praise for you.

    • Hi Orlaith,
      Thank you so much for this comment.
      Cathy and Seámus are the best and we really do appreciate them helping us
      get the word out about the book. I hope your sister-in-law likes it!

  • Mona, what a great village you have. As I’ve told you many times; your book is beautifully printed ,The binding is of great quality, good grade stock, and made to withstand a kitchen. I may not know you personally (though thanks to your writings, I feel as I do) I am proud of you. The picture of your daughters First Communion with your Mother is priceless. 🙂

    • Hi Robert,
      I know. I have never taken one of them, or the talent they brought to the table, for granted.
      Each of them, in their own right helped us make our book fab.
      I feel very fortunate to have found them all! I love that photo of Mum with Rory Belle. It is too cute!

  • A very thoughtful post. I’m sure all the hands that have gone into the project feel your appreciation and excitement over the book!

    • Honestly – I am so proud of the book. I really am. But yes, you can see how much help and effort it takes to get from start to print.
      Not EASY by a long shot. Thanks for popping in for a visit Kale – sorry you go stuck in the SPAM folder x

  • Hi Mona, a very informative post about the trials and tribulations of self publishing. Thanks for that. I’m a big fan of your column in the ST. I’m sure your book will fly off the shelves.

    • Hello Karen,
      Thanks a million for the comment and letting me know you are ‘reading’ the ST column.
      We are loving the weekly challenge of throwing together a few nice recipes and it is keeping the Chef well and truly on
      his kitchen toes. The book is selling quite well, thank goodness!

  • Dear Mona – We got “the book” a few days before Father’s Day here in the States. I started out of my chair and began crying “happy tears” after reading what you wrote about the first time you saw Ted and me with the little one who was, at one time, your Kate. I decided then and there that your book had to be kept as a
    Father’s Day present for Ted. Thank you for making his Dad-day so special. Thank you for your sensitive portrayal of this delicate subject – not to mention your kind care of our precious daughter until the day she could be placed in our arms. Looking forward to the day when we can all be together again!


    • Hi Marlene,

      I am so happy to see this lovely message from you!
      That chapter, and the chapter about Jack were very hard to write. I spent most of those days writing and crying myself.
      But I guess those were good tears – and I feel so much better for it now.
      The happy ending is always a lovely thing Marlene, and in your case – it was a happy beginning!
      Looking forward to see you guys on this side of the pond soon x Please email some summer shots of your baby x

  • […] our friends, come to our classes, our food & wine nights and even launched their book at our place. The super restaurants and hotels we supply who have made Galway the gourmet capital of […]

  • […] our friends, come to our classes, our food & wine nights and even launched their book at our place. The super restaurants and hotels we supply who have made Galway the gourmet capital […]

  • […] our friends, come to our classes, our food & wine nights and even launched their book at our place. The super restaurants and hotels we supply who have made Galway the gourmet capital […]

  • […] to blog is amazing. The fact that they also have brought out books this year – Mona’s a self-published creative writing project completed in 24 weeks – will have any mother taking her hat off to them. Shelia’s six […]

  • […] our friends, come to our classes, our food & wine nights and even launched their book at our place. The super restaurants and hotels we supply who have made Galway the gourmet capital […]

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About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
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Ron Wise About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.

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