Hazel Gaynor is a blogger and freelance journalist who has recently taken the plunge into ePublishing, here she chats to Becky Clark of DirecteBooks about her life as a writer, a mum and the reasons why she chose to self publish…
Congratulations on publishing your eBook Hazel, tell me a bit about it?
‘Hot Cross Mum – Bitesize Slices of Motherhood’ is a humorous, warm and honest account of family life. The book came about as a result of writing my blog ‘Hot Cross Mum’, so is written in a series of short, diary-entries which follow the first year of my journey as I adjust from the corporate world of deadlines and boardrooms to the domestic world of washing lines and bathrooms! To quote from the online description…
‘There are many highs; days when she bursts with love and pride for her two boys and days when nothing gets spilt or broken. But there are also the lows; when the days seem endless, the dinner is thrown on the floor and there isn’t any tonic for the gin. Written with a wry humour and honesty which only someone who has lived through the experience of raising young children could do justice to, ‘Hot Cross Mum’ will reassure any parent that it isn’t just them and, apart from anything else, will provide a welcome distraction from the housework!’
Rather than being a straightforward reproduction of the blog, the eBook includes new material, so there’s plenty of new reading for my loyal blog followers, as well as for people who have never seen the blog and discover the eBook first.
As Sinead Moriarty, bestselling author of ‘The Baby Trail’ and ‘Pieces of My Heart’, kindly put it: “ ’Hot Cross Mum – Bitesize Slices of Motherhood’ is a funny, relevant and wonderfully honest account of motherhood. I laughed out loud and nodded in recognition all the way through.”
What was your inspiration to start your blog?
Two years ago, I didn’t even know what a blog was! I started Hot Cross Mum as a platform for developing a writing career after I was made redundant and decided to become a Stay At Home Mum. I started blogging just at the point when the ‘mummy blogging’ community was exploding in the UK and Ireland, and I quickly became part of an influential community of blogging parents who were writing witty, insightful, educational blogs about their experiences as a parent. These were far removed from the simple diaries many sceptics would imagine a blog to be. My blog has given me access to an incredible network of smart, intelligent, motivated women; many of whom have become real friends after starting out as virtual ones.
What made you decide to self-publish?
The phenomena of blogging and my part in that attracted the interest of Irish press and TV and after being interviewed for ‘The Sunday Times Magazine’ in January 2010 about the transition from corporate to domestic life, my blog was noticed by a literary agent. She enquired whether I’d considered developing a book based on the blog. I hadn’t, but I started to work on it the very next day!
When it was submitted, the book received praise from publishers in Ireland and the UK and was very nearly commissioned for publication by a UK publisher; but unfortunately didn’t make the final hurdle. Having got so close, I was obviously very disappointed, but dusted myself off and continued to write the blog for my personal pleasure and turned my hand to fiction writing and my freelance career.
That book has sat on my PC ever since; nagging at me! As eBooks became more and more popular, I started to think about putting ‘Hot Cross Mum: Bitesize Slices of Motherhood’ out in an eBook format. A friend of mine, Catherine Howard, was starting to see phenomenal success with her eBook ‘MouseTrapped’ and encouraged me to go for it!
Describe a typical writing day for you.
I’m not sure that I have a typical writing day – if only! With two young children it is more a case of grabbing writing time whenever I can. I’m lucky to have a netbook which sits permanently at one end of the kitchen table, waiting patiently for me! When the boys are in bed, or before they wake up in the morning, I switch it on and start writing. It is never a chore to write – even though I write as a career now as well as for pleasure. I think once you feel compelled to tell a story – whether it is a true story or a fictitious one – nothing is going to stop you, or deter you from writing it, even if some days it seems like a totally impossible task.
Since September last year, I’ve gained a couple of hours during the week when both the boys are at school and pre-school and this has been great. I can see that as they get older, and are both at school, it is going to get a little easier for me to have scheduled time to write. For now, it really is a case of stolen time. Interestingly, I don’t always write at the laptop. I often scribble feature ideas and entire chapters of my novel in a notebook. I find this really refreshing.
What advice would you give other authors thinking about self-publishing their work?
The eBook market expands on a daily basis. 2011 certainly seems to be the year when, as predicted by publishers and those in the industry, eBooks will firmly establish themselves in the global marketplace – so it’s a really exciting time to be launching myself into all of that!
For any authors thinking about self-publishing their work I would say, go for it! It is getting harder and harder to break through into the publishing industry as an unpublished author and eBooks provide a viable way to make that first step. Obviously, the key to creating a successful eBook is the same as creating a successful book in any format: it has to be the writing which ultimately engages the reader and wants them to keep turning the page – or sliding their finger across the screen in this case! Self-publishing shouldn’t be taken lightly and I would encourage anyone thinking about it to be very confident that they have produced a well-written, engaging, professionally produced book. I was lucky to have had input from agents and publishers so at least I could approach self publishing in the knowledge that my manuscript had been seriously considered for traditional publication.
Promoting any book is hugely important – especially for an unpublished author who is self-publishing. Fortunately, through my blog and social media such as Twitter, I am connected into a great network of other bloggers and writers who I have been in contact with. A number of people who have seen a preview of the eBook are kindly doing reviews and guest posts on their sites. I also approached a number of successful, international, established authors and parenting magazine and website editors who have given me some lovely review comments to include with my promotional material. Having their endorsement was really important to me.
What is the funniest thing that’s happened to you related to your writing?
I’ve been really lucky to have appeared on TV3 with Martin King and was recently interviewed on the Tom Dunne show as a result of press articles I have written. I was also asked to live as a 1930s housewife for the day which I did very recently. The evidence is there for all to see on my blog! I don’t think I will ever forget standing in my kitchen having a cup of coffee with Martin King while the sound guy and camera guy set up their gear to film and all the while my then two-year-old was rampaging around the house. Oh, and sitting in hair and makeup getting ready for my TV appearance was quite an amusing moment!
Have you any plans to write future eBooks?
I haven’t really thought about it yet – I guess I will wait and see what happens! I am writing a women’s fiction novel so who knows – if it doesn’t find its way to the shelves of traditional bookstores, I may be back! I am at the very start of my eBook journey. It’s a daunting but exciting prospect; who knows where I might be in 12 months’ time. As they say, watch this space!