It takes a village … to write a book
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
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 Warehouse, Charlie 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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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
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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SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS