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Today we’re talking about writing, self publishing, promoting and selling your own book.

We’ve had a self published author on the show before – but everyone has their own unique story to share. I hope all aspiring authors will find this useful!

Listen in to hear Alice share:

  • An introduction to Alice and why she writes about ‘taboo’ subjects (1:22)
  • The theme of her book (2:32)
  • Why she chose to write, rather than use another format (3:50)
  • The steps involved in writing and creating a book – and why she chose to self publish (6:30)
  • How she utilises print on demand across many different sales channels (8:40)
  • Writing a best-selling book (10:40)
  • How to work with illustrators (13:28)
  • How she promotes her book – and why she does it every day (18:28)
  • The importance of knowing your audience and where to find them (20:30)
  • The importance of persistence and consistently showing up (25:50)
  • What she enjoys about writing and publishing books (29:00)
  • One mistake she made – that you can avoid (29:40)
  • Her number one piece of advice (35:20)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

Alice Clover’s website

Girls Love to Fart on Amazon

Alice Clover on Facebook

Alice Clover on Instagram

Episode 19 – How to write and publish your own books – with Suzanne Hemming, Thea Chops Books

LET’S CONNECT

Find me on Instagram

Work with me

Transcript

How to Self Publish Your Book - with Alice Clover

INTRO (:

Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast, practical advice and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg

Vicki Weinberg (:

Oh, thanks for listening. So today we have another fantastic interview with another fantastic self-published author. So some of you might have listened to the conversation with Suze from Thea Chops Books weeks ago, and obviously this podcast is about sharing the experiences of real life, product creators. So it just because we've had someone who sold books doesn't mean that we don't do it again, because as you can imagine, and both Suze and Alice, who is this week's guest experiences are really different and yeah, exactly. As you would expect. So I'm delighted to introduce you to Alice Clover. It is a feminist writer and she focuses on gender and a quality subjects because she wants to see a quality happened for us, or she also enjoys tackling taboo topics to help improve and increase confidence and body toxicity.

Vicki Weinberg (:

And that is exactly what I'm Alice is a book is about, as you will hear in this conversation. So without any further ado, I think I will stop talking and introduce you to Alice. So, hi, thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your Books Please?

Alice Clover (:assionate about Writing until:Alice Clover (:

So just what's the word, this disparity between boys' and girls' basically, and I'm helping to create a more equal world for their future. Okay. Thank you. So, can you tell me a little bit more about your books, about it, maybe about the themes of them? So my, my book that's out at the moment, it's, girl's love to Fart and its all about girls farting in different places. And then also reminding everybody that is a normal bodily function and shouldn't be something that girls and women are made to feel ashamed of, say they can embrace their bodies and feel more positive and confident about themselves.

Alice Clover (:

And then my inner straighter is also working on the next one at the moment, which is along the similar theme.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Did you know when that one will be out

Alice Clover (:

And I'm hoping and time for the Christmas market, but it depends when she's finished because she wants the illustrations to be, she wants them to be right and she doesn't want to rush. So we're working towards,

Vicki Weinberg (:

Well, that definitely makes sense. We'll look out for that and will come back to the, talking about the illustration a bit more later if that's okay. So what I'd love to know is, so thank you for sharing about, you know, your background and what inspired you to grow out your books, but what actually, what was the catalyst for you to actually say why Books basically what made you decide you are going to write children's books as opposed to doing something else to highlight the disparity?

Alice Clover (:

Well, I've always wanted to do Writing and I had never really had the confidence before, but then when I became a mother, I felt a lot more confident about myself, but I've also been inspired daily to write different stories. And I just felt like I wanted to write books so that I can help teach children and hopefully we can help them be the change that we need to see in the world because I've always felt like it's the children who will change things.

Alice Clover (:

And if we can teach them, then I feel like it's a, is how I've got to make my Mark basically and, and help make the world a better place for, or for our children and their children.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Absolutely. And I think that it suggests such a nice way for children to learn and to pick up messages and themes as well. They seem to take such a lot from bed. So we have a kit is a really nice way to get messages across to children because we love stories as well. So, you know,

Alice Clover (:

Yeah. They, they love, they loved books. All the children that I've ever known have loved books have with toilet humor and they just, they love it. So it, it kind of, it also, there are that many books with just female protagonists, but also books for girls in general, that I'm based on that subject. Most of the time, those books are aimed at boys. And I thought that was definitely a big gap in that market. And I wanted to increase the amount of books that are out say that girls know that they have access to that.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Definitely. I mean, based in just my experience, I think girls' like toilet humor, just as much as boys do in that that's in my house probably even more. So actually. So once you decided that you were going to, you know, you wanted to write a book, so, so tell us to talk us through what happened from there. So what kind of steps

do you have to go through? Because I always find that when you have people write books, it's a bit, what am I trying to say is quite a big thing. Isn't it? There's lots involved. And then you say it so casually that you decided to produce these books. So talk us through what you actually did.

Alice Clover (:

There is a lot involved and it is quite complicated. And I have been told by various people that there's a lot of writers out there, so it shouldn't even bother because I'm probably never going to get published. And it just a hard market to break through, you know, kind of lots of barriers for me also I'm having the finance is in place to promote myself properly has always been a bit of a barrier, but we decided to self publish it because I did send it off to some publishers, but they weren't sure about my illustrator. So I thought actually, we've got a

complete Book Here and it's ready to go.

Alice Clover (:

So I'm not going to wait and see if a publisher will make up their mind. So I self published and I used a company that another person I know who self published recommended, and then we had to pay a fee to begin with, but because we sold X amount, I got that money back. And then it, basically the book has taken off because I've done continuous daily promotion for almost two years.

Alice Clover (:

So it's, it, it takes a huge amount of work and effort and you don't really see that much financial reward, but I would say it's a, it's a lot of patience as well. If you, if you were, you believe in what your product is, then you can achieve your goal, but you've got to be prepared that it's going to take quite a long time and not to rush things.

Vicki Weinberg (:

I've got so many followup questions. So I'm going to try and take one at a time if you can, and try to remember what they were as well. And so the first is that the company that you mentioned, so it was this a company that was, what were they doing when they print in your book's promoting your book? What did they just say?

Alice Clover (:

And they self publish and then the book gets printed on demand. Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Okay. So you don't actually have lots of physical copies of the books it's been around someone or does one and then it gets printed. I was amazing. And do you sell your books on Amazon at the moment? Is that right?

Alice Clover (:

Yeah. That they weren't Amazon WHSmith's waterstones, the Book people or various places, which I'm not

entirely sure because the people that we self-published with is quite hard to access that information and I'm not very savvy with things like that. So I got into, I'm not a a hundred percent sure, but there are a lot of our sites that sell it. A friend of mine recently bought it from an independent bookstore in Brighton, just so that they will just be aware of it.

Vicki Weinberg (:

That's amazing. So they, so I guess one is the, one of the things this company does is get you on the relevant, I guess its website is mainly isn't it, if it's print on demand, so they get you on the relevant platforms so that people can find you.

Alice Clover (:

Yeah, it is just online. That is not in any of the bookstores. And then I went into Why most recently and saw the array of books and I thought, Oh, my book would be perfect here. I can't wait until it is out properly on the shelves. And it's so colorful and it will just fit in with all of those colorful children's. But

Vicki Weinberg (:

So is that your plan at some point?

Alice Clover (:

Yeah, that's my plan, but I think I have to be published by a publisher rather than self published. So I'm, I'm just waiting to see a, because at the moment has a 109 reviews on Amazon and became a number one best seller in June. So is being no test. And because of the algorithms of Amazon, it's being paired off with other popular books and it's also the only self published book quite often and the list of books. So it, it it's much we have, so Books for women and girls' Books for teenager's or whatever it is when, when it became a best seller, it was in the same category as the hunger games, which has got something like 20,000 reviews and on it overtook that briefly.

Alice Clover (:

So it, I was pretty amazed that it was So became so popular.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Wow. That is absolutely amazing. Yeah. Hope you're really proud of because it was a fantastic achievement and it sounds like, yeah, it's just gaining in popularity. So it's been around for two years, is that right?

Alice Clover (:It came out last may, so May,:Alice Clover (:

And that really helped having the information from other professional women who, who kinda helped me spur on the Finnish say that we could get out because obviously we were still unsure how it would be, how well it would do where we were going to self publish and everything like that. And it, and just having lots of different inputs from other people who has been invaluable.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Yeah. So what was causing the delaying and getting in and getting it finished?

Alice Clover (:

Oh, it was, it was just taking longer to, to finish the illustrations and, and get the book layout finished because that's the, one of the hardest parts of it. So we had to make sure that the, the stairs we're all in the right place and the, and all of the illustrations were as they should be in everything.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Oh. And everything else like that, if it was placed on the page as you want it, that kind of thing. Yeah, exactly. So how does all that work? So I guess obviously you, you write the text for the bit, and so then is it a, for a case, or I'll find it in illustrator and then briefing them on the kind of illustrations that you want and where you want the text placing or so as to how much of it comes from you and how much comes from the illustrator in terms of how the finished book?

Alice Clover (:

Well, basically I have been very fortunate because my illustrator is a friend of mine sister-in-law and we took a bit of a gamble working together, but it's worked out really well. So we actually become friends and we have regular discussions about it. And she's got all of the programs on her computer, a booklet, because she's written on her own books as well. So she has got it. So she knows how to lay out. She knows how many pages we need. She knows, she knows all of that kind of things.

Alice Clover (:

So we, we, we sat down together. I went through all of the nurses and then we were able to work out what, which ones where, so that it sounded right. Because it's, it's because, because each verse is different and there's no continuity with the illustrations, or do you think they all have to be done individually? And, or the characters are a completely different, that's partly what I take so long, because normally with Books it's the same character throughout, but this one, each girl on each page is different.

Alice Clover (:

Right.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Oh, I can see you. So yes. Everyone has to be, we go on from scratch. Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense.

Alice Clover (:

Yeah. Yeah. And we also wanted to include every type of background, every type of race, every type of culture, a disability, everything.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Yes. That sounds like that. Was it a lot of work that goes into that.

Alice Clover (:

Yeah. And like I said, because my other straight, once it wants the pictures all too, to be the best that she can make them, it takes longer. And, and, but they always turn out really brilliantly. And everybody who reads the book who likes it loves the illustrations as well. They, they they're always complimenting. And I think a lot of people feel that the two of the writing on the illustrations are very well matched.

Vicki Weinberg (:

I think that the children's books or in particular that is illustrations are really important. Aren't they, because the children need to see the illustration, but also as haven't you noticed the illustration as well, and, you know, and you'll be getting to your child. That is something you see, because yeah, I think that it's really important. So it sounds definitely worth spending the time to get them. Right. So do you have any tips or advice to anyone working with illustrators?

Alice Clover (:

I would say that it's best to, so we've torn up a contract, so it's best to have a contract in place, build up a good rapport and communicate with each other regularly and also try and have some kind of And deadline in place, if you can. And so that you're working towards something, because otherwise it can be a bit kind of, I don't know where you're going. And I mean, a lot of people would pay their way in Australia to up front, but because we split the profit 50, 50, it's different, we are relying on, on the selling.

Alice Clover (:

So I think M if somebody was to pay in illustrator and say, right, I want this done in three months. It's a, it's a different way of doing it to how we've done it. We're kind of more doing it on trust and that's why communication. So, all right.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Important. But as you say, you have a contract in place as well. So why do you have that to fall back on, I guess,

Alice Clover (:

Yeah. Its kind of a contract with the agreements that we split everything 50 and that, because obviously the illustrations are all hurt us and the writing's all mine. So I'm just kind of keep trying to keep, keep it so that we have a insured, I suppose.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Yeah. I think it is definitely good to have everything in writing. So you mentioned that the better because our in may of last year, but it is, it, it was June this year that it got to the top of the best sellers. So why is it that, or do you think that you've done in the last year? That's helped them get it so popular

Alice Clover (:

When we had the Christmas sales last year? It, it, it sells quite well, but basically it's been continuous promotion for me because I didn't really do anything different during lockdown. I just did the usual posts about a new review or something like that. It's just, I, I post on different Facebook groups and that's one in particular where the people in that really like it. And I think it got, I can't remember how many, 500 likes or something and people were buying it there and then, and leaving a comment saying, and they bought it.

Alice Clover (:

And that was some, and I think also it, because people were in a lockdown and the algorithm's of Amazon and it just popping up 'cause if you type in girls, Love on Amazon, it's the first thing that comes up. So I think that's why it ended up becoming a best seller just because so many people we're at home in wanting something to read and that's quite a different read. Really.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Yeah. It sounds like it. So, so you had mentioned about being in post in Facebook groups. So do you have a really clear idea of who is your market in the book too? And why would you say that is important?

Alice Clover (:

Yeah, it's really important. And I've been to various meetups about this. So I created three avatars and a is basically, I've got one particular friend who was represented my target audience and she absolutely loves the book. So that's kind of more like a liberal mums who are quite alternative and quirky. And then another group of people are kind of grandmothers or great aunt's or whatever who, who loves to have a laugh and I want to get something for their grandchildren or their nieces and nephews that is different and funny.

Alice Clover (:

And then the other group is mums who are middle class, but also like to think outside the box and, and, and again, like something that's different in a bit more quirky. Right.

Vicki Weinberg (:

And I seen you talk, so all three of these audiences slightly differently And are they in different places as well? Just to have interest. So they do, do you find that one group more than one channel or group and yeah. Do you, are they yeah. The in different places?

Alice Clover (:

Well, I'd say that the more liberal mums, all, not necessarily on social media as well as much, they, like, some of them don't have smart phones or anything and, but they hear about the book through word of mouth and then promote it themselves. And then the grandmother's and great aunts, they might be on social media. But again, its kind of something like that. For example, my mom took my book to Her West drive as of wa as a, a price and the people that run it liked it so much.

Alice Clover (:

They actually came to her house and luckily I was there at the time and I'm wanted a copy. So I signed it for them. So it's things like that, taking it to go to a raffle prize or telling friends. So she, she tells everyone, so that has been where you go out and then the other two are on social media and a lot and very happy with it. And, and, and that's how they get to know about it. For some of these groups. A lot of the time have these types of women who into alternative culture and things.

Vicki Weinberg (:

I think it's fantastic how clear you are on here, your marketing team and also that you recognize it every three different customers, because I think quite often the advice to you here is to think about your ideal customers, but then like you found that it isn't always one person who's gonna buy your book, all your product. So I think

it's great that you've got free avid set for avatars and that you know where to find them all and know how to talk to them all. And then also that you're doing a bit of marketing for your buck of social media as well. I think that's really clever because as you say, not everyone's on social media and also it is a lot of noise and social media, isn't that at the moment. And I guess it's quite hard too, to always stand out.

Vicki Weinberg (:

So apart from social media and what you're doing off it, or you doing anything else, promote your books, say on Amazon, you do in any kind of advertising or are you doing anything to increase your reviews? I've seen, you've got, if you've got over a a hundred really good reviews, are you doing anything to get those or are just happening Organically as in, do you ask people for reviews?

Alice Clover (:

And I have been asking people for reviews if they get them, but also they have been happening more organically now because the first set of reviews were largely from people I knew or from these Facebook groups that I was posting it on. Some of the reviews of now started to, because it was all five star to begin with. And they've, they've, they're not quite, so it's not quite so popular with some people, but it, it just proves thatit is a different market that are buying the book and it, and it in its kind of happening organically, which is

really good because it, it, it, it means that it is getting more exposure apart from the fact that I want it to be a success.

Alice Clover (:

And, and you know, for me, I'd like to be able to earn an income. I also want the message that's in the book to get as far and wide as possible so that we can help change the language we use and encourage girls too, to be more confident about themselves. And I guess not everyone can like everything you do. And even if people don't enjoy the book with any of the messages or whatever, or at least they were talking about that, which I guess, you know that you're never gonna please everyone get again. Why is that? There is still a really positive. So I, in my, or something, I was straight away after which she wasn't helpful.

Alice Clover (:

So are you doing anything to promote your book on Amazon in particular or a people just coming across to you from browsing the best Saturday tests and things like that? Like I said, it was the first thing that if you type it in, it's the first thing that comes up. And if I haven't paid for any advertisement campaigns apart from early on last year, when it first came out, I think I did a Facebook advertisement campaign for a couple of days, but otherwise I haven't paid for any thing is just kind of growing on its own. But that is not to do with the fact that I am so persistent and I, I feel like I need to be present.

Alice Clover (:

And when, if anyone writes a comment about my bookkeeper, it, I, I always reply individually. So if sometimes it can be some of the Facebook groups is literally hundreds of comments when I try and reply to each person. I mean, I have had some very negative comments that one person, when I was promoting it before, it was even out said to me, they talked about narcissistic snowflake children, and they hope to comment with hit the earth because of the way that Books, we're going. Also, I was, I don't know if something, so I've had a quite amusing comments and also someone recently wrote a comment saying disgusting, but then a whole load of other people started writing and replies.

Alice Clover (:

So I never really have to say anything. And I find it's best not to anyway because, because obviously everyone's been talking to each their own opinion and I know that not everyone's going to like my book kind of either like, mom, I love it. Or you hate it basically. So it is quite a niche book, but I mean, one person on, on that thread bought a copy of then and there. So, you know,

Vicki Weinberg (:

I'm sure it was, well, we have such a niche, but, but at some people as well, we are going to be commenting or just to invoke or a response from you as well. So that's, yeah, it was probably good that you don't sort of give all these comments at a time of day and days sort of takes them to heart because I'm sure there are some people who just like to be negative.

Alice Clover (:

Yeah, exactly. And it also is to it. It's not, it doesn't help. I mean, I know that people aren't going to like it and I know that people are going to leave comments on that's fine. And then I just let them get on with it because I'm prepared for the fact that not everyone is going to like, and, and, and it, it, it doesn't really bother me, it's it? It is what it is.

Vicki Weinberg (:

And then as you say, you can't, you definitely never going to make, to create anything that pleases everyone, but it's fantastic that you've got fans of the book that, you know, that are going to come in and defend you and people do say negative things about it. So that's really good. And the fact that you take the time to respond to people's comments, I think that must make a huge difference as well. So just a few final questions before we finish up. Alice so what do you enjoy about writing and publishing your own books?

Alice Clover (:

I enjoy the freedom cause I've always after working in jobs where I felt like I really wasn't valued properly and I didn't have the freedom. I like the fact that I am in complete control of what I'm doing. I love what I'm doing. I get to be creative. I get to explore different avenues and we have self publishing, its for me, I just feel like it it's, it is, it's a way to get my work out that and have people see it.

Alice Clover (:

And then I'm hoping one day a publisher will notice and they will approach us. And, and you know, at the moment we are just happy that the book's done so well. And because I'm, I'm the face of it all and I'm promoting it. But my illustrator does a lot in the background and we work with your wealth as a team. So we have those qualities that work well together and It, and it seems to help with the or you for all Product.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Yeah. That makes sense. And what about, what have you learnt through the process of creating your own bags? Or is there anything that you would do differently? For example?

Alice Clover (:

Yeah, it don't promote to soon.

Vicki Weinberg (:

So when you say to you soon, do you mean before the Books is actually available to buy?

Alice Clover (:t for the Christmas market of:

it's not out or someone else could steal your idea. So then I kind of started panicking about it. So now I know you for the next one, not really even talking about the title, I'm just kind of letting its take it, take its course whilst I am working on the other products.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Yeah. That absolutely makes sense. And then so what we do plan to talk about at once it's once it is, once it's done, once it's ready and people can actually order it.

Alice Clover (:

Yeah. I think once, once more illustrations have finished and we feel happy that we're going to reach our target, I will start promoting the title and, and generate interest that once it's our people know about it and they will then once you buy it and because it's going to be a series co it's, all the, all the books are going to be N a C or E. So hopefully people will want, want a beach, but you know,

Vicki Weinberg (:

And where people will be able to pre-order or is that the plan, once you can talk about the book and read a book about the title or will you, will you be taking preorders? Is, is that something you thought about?

Alice Clover (:

And I think they, it all depends where the, because I have to have a backlog of books that I can send out for that to happen, but because it got gets printed on demand is quite difficult to know exactly where they'll be able to do pre-orders right.

Vicki Weinberg (:

I guess this is a case of gauging the interest once you start talking about it, perhaps.

Alice Clover (:

Yeah. But that is a really good point actually, because we haven't done that with girls love to follow it kind of just run its own course and because I'm on Amazon, it's the next day delivery. It it's quite easy to get hold of the problem with the, the first of all, it was a two to three week Whates. So we will worried that people will go to be put off by that. But because there was so much interest in it quickly changed to the next day delivery. So that was amazing.

Vicki Weinberg (:

So what, how did that change? So it was this, the company that did, does it, do you, the company that your work with manage the printing or does Amazon manage the printing?

Alice Clover (:

I think it's both, but because apparently the Amazon takes a little while to catch up a few days to catch up.

So once it had caught up on everything was properly, properly out, it then started to change the waiting times. It almost sounds as if the more pop here is that your book is the quicker people can get hold of it, which I guess would make sense because I guess obviously Amazon or getting something out of this and they wanted to make a bunch of money to do so, perhaps it was the case that, you know, the more popular Books get sent her a little bit quicker, maybe.

Alice Clover (:

Yeah, exactly. It, it, it was, but now it's a, the next day till everywhere I was on some like Waterstones because no one is really buying it on Waterstones it is a two to three week wait. So if more people were buying it from there, then they would realize that people want it. But because Amazon is so easy to use everyone just use it and play. And I would like it to do well on other books store sights, because I want to support other bookstores as well. Like I, you know, I'm quite passionate about that too, but for me being self published, it just makes sense.

Alice Clover (:

The Amazon is doing all this work for me because then it takes the pressure off as well. Yeah, absolutely. So if anyone's listening to this and wants to get hold of a book on Amazon, sounds like the place to go. If you want to say it quickly. Yeah. Or if you want to support your local bookstore or somewhere else, you can do that too. But yeah, that does make sense. And I guess this is where it was, you know, it's a business', isn't it, you, you know, that you have to do what makes most sense for you for the business side as well? Yeah. Is that clear? And also we are planning on getting an ebook version out as well.

Vicki Weinberg (:

Oh, that's exciting. Okay. So one final question for you, at least, which is a question that I ask everyone who comes on. So what is your number one piece of advice for anyone else who's looking to write and publish their own books, whether they're looking at, to go down the self published or the published rate,

Alice Clover (:

just write, and if you're really passionate about, and you believe in yourself, you can succeed. You just got to be patient and realize that it's not going to become a best seller over night or not going to sell Loads overnight. And you might not make any money from it at all, but if you really are passionate about it and wants to do it, you should just do it.

Vicki Weinberg (:

That's pretty, thank you so much. Okay. Well, I'm going to link it to your book and uhm, and to your website and to everything else in the show notes. So people can find you really easily. Thank you so much for coming on and for sharing your story. I think that's been lots of useful things. Is there a lot I've learned today about self publishing that I never knew and I'm really thinking of people find it useful. So thank you so much.

Alice Clover (:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg (:

So you're welcome. Hi. I really hope you enjoyed the conversation with Alice and you took something away from it as always. I'd love to know what you think. You can email me. Vicki@tinychipmunk.com or you can leave a review for this show in Apple podcast, which I would really appreciate it if we don't have the time to do that. But you've just got a couple of seconds. I would love if you can leave a Writing. So that's all for this week. Thank you again for listening and see you C.