Let’s B*Different: Lorna Sixsmith Talks Self-Publishing

Life on the farm can be hectic, Can you tell us how the book idea came about? 

It was inspired by a blog post entitled ‘Advice to those considering marrying a farmer’ which was written in a very tongue in cheek style in September 2012. The inspiration for the blog post came after a session of sorting cattle with my husband! It became really popular and I started thinking about writing a book in April 2013 and went on to write 10,000 words. I attended a talk on crowdfunding in Wales in early June and decided to run a crowdfunding campaign to determine if there was sufficient interest in the book (testing the market) and to raise some finance via pre-orders of the book.

The campaign ended successfully on 20th August and I received delivery of a thousand copies of ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?’ on 29th November, selling 750 before Christmas. I have now printed a second print run and it is available in all good bookshops. 

Can you give some advice to people interested in self publishing a book? Workload, Important factors to consider?

Keep writing and write a little every day. Most self publishers will be working full time so it’s important to stay motivated and keep at it.

Be realistic about the costs involved. Even if you just self publish on kindle rather than print it out too, the costs will still include an editor and an illustrator for the front cover design as an absolute minimum. 

Set yourself a deadline and stick to it. It could be very easy to keep editing and tinkering with the manuscript – sometimes you just have to take that jump and publish. However, do leave sufficient time for a good edit.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media in terms of growing brand awareness about your book and helping you to get free press coverage. 

Getting the word out about your book will be more work that you might imagine, particularly if you have printed it and want to get it into bookshops but it will all pay off. 

You went the crowd funding route, what was the response like? and would you recommend it?

Crowdfunding is hard work, it certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted and I would argue that a strong online following is essential for success. However, it is so worthwhile. The benefits are so much more than financial – it generates brand awareness, publicity and pre-sales. It gives you increased confidence in your book and it allows you to test the market. 

You’re writing another book in 2014, will you change the way you do any of it? 

In some ways, I need to run another crowdfunding campaign if only to give myself a strict deadline!  Although I’m writing another book, I’m also working on marketing and selling the first one. I’m going to be selling it at the Sheep Shearing Festival in Gorey next weekend and I’m judging the Blue Jeans Country Queen festival in Athboy the weekend after. I’m delighted to have just heard that I’m being interviewed on TV3 Ireland AM next Monday morning. 

This book is a different genre so I’m still undecided as to whether I will print it out or not or just sell it as an ebook. 

What was the highlight of the process for you? 

Being interviewed by Ryan Tubridy (as he really knows his books) and hearing him describe it in such glowing terms. 

‘Would You Marry a Farmer’ is available in all good bookshops now. It can be purchased on Kindle and ordered online from irishfarmerette.com

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