It’s been 11 weeks and 3 days since Butterfly Barn was launched. It has been a fantastic adventure so far. Leaving our home on the 14th of November last, my husband Michael turned to me and said. “Remember Karen, no matter what happens tonight you have achieved your dream.”
I truly have, nothing could have prepared me for the reception Butterfly Barn is receiving. Without the help and support from the people of Waterford it would have been impossible. Butterfly Barn stayed at No.1 in Original fiction for six weeks in The Book Centre, Waterford. Local newspapers featured the book and radio stations across the South-East invited me to chat about Butterfly Barn. I managed to get two minutes with Joe Duffy on national radio before Christmas which helped to bring Butterfly Barn to a wider audience. When the manager of Ireland’s oldest, most prestigious bookshop read it and compared my writing to Maeve Binchy, I have to say it was my proudest moment, especially when she added. “That book will be on the shelf on Monday morning.”
In the middle of all of this, a reader asked, “Why are you so surprised by how much we love the book?” It’s taken me a while to answer. I’ve always believed in Butterfly Barn, I love the characters and what they stand for. I also dream that someday such a place will exist. I suppose I’m surprised by its success because I took a road less travelled by self-publishing. Originally, I had planned to have the launch in an Art Gallery and risk printing 100 books. I love the smell and feel of a book so it was important to me to have a physical book. I never imagined The Book Centre, Waterford and Eason’s Dungarvan would give me the opportunity to launch Butterfly Barn in their stores nor did I think Argosy Wholesalers would take stock, making it available to bookstores across Ireland. I am amazed that over 1,800 printed copies have been sold to date, mostly across the South-East. A huge thanks to ‘Woman’s Way’ magazine for Butterfly Barn’s first mention in a national magazine last week.
Chenile Keogh at Kazoo Publishing made it possible for me to hold a beautifully produced book in my hand and she uploaded it to every digital platform: Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble etc. Independent bookstores have also made it available on their websites.
The Butterfly Barn Facebook page has reached 1616 Likes. Every day, I receive photographs of the cover of the book from across the world from places like Bermuda, Florida, Paris, Prague to Sark Island and Sydney, all because readers are taking the time from their busy lives to support this book. I will never be able to thank them enough.
The Library Service has taken stock of the book and I have been invited along to do readings and talk about Butterfly Barn with their members. Book clubs are reading the book because of the variety of issues it addresses.
The other day, I received a call from Feileacain, the Stillborn and Neonatal Association of Ireland, to say they would like to recommend Butterfly Barn as a novel which leaves people with a feeling of hope at a time of huge grief. I am truly honoured by this, as the reason I write is to highlight areas which are little talked about and sometimes even less understood. If my writing can help one person, all of this will have been worth it. One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard about writing was – write what you know. My decision to share wasn’t taken lightly. It is twelve years since we lost our baby boys, Michael and Aiden and there is not a day that goes by without my thinking of them. They brought me on a journey I would never have travelled, and for that I am very grateful.
Vanessa at writing.ie asked me to summarise the steps I took to release Butterfly Barn. So here they are:
• I found a good editor through my local Arts Office. Listen and learn. Remember Stephen King “To write is human, to edit is divine.”
• Research people who have done it before you. There is a group called The Alliance of Independent Authors. Watch their Youtube clips and read pieces from the site. Read Catherine Ryan Howard’s book on self-publishing Self Printed. Some fantastic tips and guidance.
• Join a writers group – especially if it’s diverse. Always be open to feedback.
• Be prepared to invest. I wanted Butterfly Barn to look and feel like any other book on the market today in my genre. I contacted Kazoo Publishing. Through them, I was involved in every aspect from the cover design, font type and size, whether I wanted to publish trade or b format size. And yes, I even had the title embossed. Butterfly Barn was type set, copy-edited, proof read and uploaded to every digital platform Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Nielsen etc.
• Ask your local bookshop if they will host a book launch
• Ask your family and friends to come along
• Have a social media presence – Facebook worked well for me, ask Facebook friends to come along
• Invest in professionally printed posters and flyers
• Write a press release. Ask your local newspapers to publish it
• Ring your local radio station and tell them what you are doing. Research first which programme will suit your project best
• Send the book to associations or people you think might find the issues you are writing about of interest to them
• Send the book to magazines/bloggers for review before your launch date (I didn’t know about this)
• Acknowledge all the people who help you along the way. Get to know them, remember their names. Always be pleasant and polite
• Write because you love it and want to share your imagination or experiences.
• From one reader sending a photograph of Butterfly Barn at the Eiffel Tour others engaged and began to send pics from landmarks all over the world – Butterfly Barn is on tour!
• Be very, very grateful to all those readers who decide to buy your book
• Above all enjoy it. I can tell you it’s the best feeling in the world when somebody come up and says, “I just finished your book, I couldn’t put it down. When is the next one coming out?”
Mostly, I stumbled along unsure of myself, but determined because I believe in Butterfly Barn. Maybe someday Butterfly Barn will fall into the hands of a person who will believe in it as much as I do and have will have the resources to make it come true. Oh to dream.
(c) Karen Power
About Butterfly Barn
Grace Fitzgerald hopes to sign a contract with an American cruise corporation to bring cruise liners to the idyllic coastal town of Bayrush, in Ireland. Her fiancé, Dirk, doesn’t seem to grasp just how important the business is to her. On her way through Dublin Airport, Grace catches a glimpse of Jack Leslie, her first love. He’s married now but he still has the power to turn her knees to jelly. Grace is about to make the biggest decision of her life. Will it be the right one?
Jessie McGrath is happily married to Geoff, and together they run a small equestrian centre on the outskirts of Bayrush. Jessie is finally pregnant with her second child, and life couldn’t be better. But will their dreams come true or will they fall to pieces?
Sophia Wynthrope can’t escape the emptiness of widowhood. After thirty-five years of marriage New York holds too many memories of her treasured husband. Is she chasing foolish dreams by travelling to Ireland, or can she possibly find the peace she craves in a place called Bayrush?
An unexpected encounter will spark a chain of events that will entwine their lives for ever …