Huge thanks to Catherine for organising such a wonderful showcase of publishing freelancers. I’m thrilled to be a part of such an engaged and supportive community.
I’m Shelley, a writing mentor, blogger, and multi-genre author. My writing career began in 2014 when I self-published my first book, How I Changed My Life in a Year, which went on to bask at the number one spot on Amazon’s best seller list in self-help and women’s biographies. In 2017 I signed with American publisher, BHC Press.
What is your specialism within book publishing?
I’ve been fortunate to see writing and publishing from the perspective of an independent author as well as traditionally published. These experiences allow me to help new writers navigate the book writing world with more confidence. I specialise in getting people started on their journey. So many people tell me about their book idea but falter when it comes to taking the next step. I had to learn on the go, making plenty of costly mistakes along the way, but now I support others as they start writing their book.
Can you describe what you do in 10 words or fewer?
I help people find their voice and write their book.
What led you to go freelance?
I was already running my own business (a holistic health spa) and loved the freedom of being self-employed. When I became ill a few years ago I had to close my business and turn to the one thing that brought me the most passion – writing. Unless you’re JK Rowling, you’ll understand that book sales won’t pay the bills, so I began to turn my knowledge into courses and workshops, eventually launching my writing mentor business.
Do you work primarily for publishing companies or independent authors or a mix?
My role is to get writers started. With support and guidance, I help them reach the end goal of holding a finished book in their hands. At this point I can only offer advice on which publishing route to take and provide the necessary connections. I’m thrilled no matter which route my clients’ take, but predominantly it’s independent authors who use my services.
What’s the best part of doing what you do?
Seeing the penny drop when I’m working on a book outline with a new client. That overwhelmed slump of the shoulders and furrowed brow disappear as they realise writing their book is within reach and not as hard as they expected.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your freelance journey?
As a freelancer you tend to spend most of your time alone. I work from home and most days only have the cat to talk to, which is why my 1-2-1 meetings and workshops are so much fun. I’m a people person stuck behind a screen! Networking with the writing and small business community has become a lifeline for me. I wish I’d ventured out and about earlier to meet people and share what I do and hear about other people’s projects. No matter what industry you work in, all freelancers have similar questions, issues, and doubts. Finding a tribe to support your freelance journey is something I wish I’d discovered at the beginning.
How many books are in your TBR (to be read) pile/list? And do you plan to read them all eventually?
Oh my! What a scary question! I had to go physically check my bookshelves to get this answer and it was quite alarming. As a multi-genre author, I tend to also be a multi-genre reader. My shelves are packed full of young adult fantasy fiction, horror novels, and non-fiction personal development books. Unread physical books = 39. Unread eBooks = 127.
Will I read them all? Not a chance. There are a few books on my Kindle that I’m looking forward to reading when I get the time, but a lot of them are my fellow authors books that I purchased in support but won’t read because they’re not a genre I enjoy (romance and crime).
Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?
Physical books all the way. There’s something fabulously decadent about curling up on a rainy day with a weathered paperback. I’m a member of a book review team and the novels we receive are usually mobi files, so I need my eReader for these, but that’s the only reason I keep it. Hardbacks are making a comeback now and I’ve managed to get my hands of a couple of signed editions lately – they always take pride of place on my bookshelf.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in publishing?
As with any industry, I’d advise anyone to thoroughly research the role they want to take on before committing. The publishing industry is fast-paced and runs on deadlines, a high-profile social media presence, and engaging marketing. To enjoy your work, you must have a passion for what you do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life right now.
What is your favourite children’s book and your favourite adult’s book?
Picking my favourite children’s book is easy as it’s what kicked off my love of fantasy and inventing stories. Enid Blyton’s Folk of the Faraway Tree holds a special place in my heart, and I’ve still got my original copy from the 70s. Choosing a favourite adult book is much, much harder! Although I’m nearly 50, I’m an avid YA fantasy fiction fan which is why I also write for this genre. The one book I’ve read over and over is City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. This book was turned into a teen television series called Shadowhunters which was pretty good. I’ve read other brilliant books but this one always felt like a comfort blanket for me. Although, I’ve just finished Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Deathless Girls and this may just push its way to the top of my list!