by Máire O'Leary
Through my self publishing journey I have experienced the true Irish spirit of community, kindness and generosity. It has been a truly humbling experience.
I recently said to someone "if I never sold a book 'Freewheeling to Love' has exposed me to so much of what is good in human nature, real generosity and kindness. So many people have gone above and beyond to help me; my family, friends, the writing community, the media, bookshops and the local retail sector. Somewhere in the back of my head I had the unfounded notion that those in the writing community had high ideals and would not welcome an inexperienced intruder. I could not have been more wrong.
As I began my initial foray into the publishing world I received some really encouraging emails of advice on how to progress my work. I look back now to the naivety of sending off my first unedited initial manuscript to publishing companies and agents. While many did not respond those who did took the time to offer me words of encouragement, suggestions of how to progress and praise for the elements they could. It was those kind words of encouragement that gave me the confidence to pursue my dream.
A colleague of mine referred me to two Author friends of hers to have a chat. Both kindly gave me an hour of their time and each detailed for me their learning's from the publishing and the self publishing world. It was refreshing to get both points of view as I hadn't a clue.
Following these conversations I sent my manuscript to my mother and three sisters who are all avid readers. It's funny, I felt safer sending it out to agents and publishers before sending it to them. I knew without doubt that I would get the unvarnished truth from them. I also knew that if they said they liked it, I was onto something. I sat with the fear and sent it anyways. In truth, I think this was my turning point. I had exposed myself to those who mattered most. I had fully declared my intension to publish a book. It was no longer just something to entertain myself with. Luckily for me, there was unanimous agreement that the story was good but needed some serious proof reading. The crew were in and they would back me to the finish line. For each of them it was the start of hours of proofreading, title brainstorming and now sales and promotion.
Next enters Jeremy Murphy of JM Editing who gave me incisive and extremely constructive feedback on my plot, my characters and a deep edit. Initially I resisted his feedback weighing up the pros and cons of time spent pursuing the novel versus time away from my boys aged 3 and 6 at the time. After a call to Jeremy in which I asked him "have I actually got something here or am I wasting my time" he diplomatically told me I had strong characters but the plot needed a bit of development. To his credit he reiterated his suggestions and offered me the opportunity to link back with him as I developed the plot and finished the book. This was invaluable. A sounding board outside my family.
He was followed by Orla Kelly of Orla Kelly Publishing who was a steadying hand throughout the publishing process. With kindness she guided me towards workable solutions, never putting pressure on me or dismissing any of my naive ideas. My cover photo was a gift from a friend Lisa Daly an extremely talented photographer.
As I got closer to publication the fear set in and imposter syndrome reared its ugly head. I have Orla in addition to Marian Keys free online classes and my good friend Noreen McGrath to thank for getting me through those last final weeks without calling it all off. To say I was terrified was an understatement.
Following publication of 'Freewheeling to Love' in February 2021 I have had the pleasure of getting to know many other self published authors in particular those involved with www.buythebook.ie. I have been blown away by the amount of time and support other authors are prepared to give in support of those starting out.
I believe my life has become richer not because I wrote or sold a book but because of the people I have met and continue to meet on this Journey.