Monday, July 29, 2013

Interview with Self-Publisher Mary Lee

Hey Mary, thank you for being on our blog about self-publishing. As a children's ebook author on Amazon, can you please tell us about how you got started?I was looking for a creative way to make a few extra bucks. I wanted to buy my kid a backyard play-set but I had an expensive new baby on the way. I already work full time as a Graphic Designer and I was in my third trimester so I didn't want to do anything more exhausting. I read an article about kids books becoming more common on ereaders and I thought it looked like a fun hobby. 
What was the process like for you to self-publish?Surprisingly not that hard. Since there are no gatekeepers, most of the barriers are self inflicted. I had to block the evil little doubts in my head that say I can't write and illustrate a whole book. It actually helped to visit book stores and find some truly horrible books that were put out there by big publishers. It's "well, at least it's not that bad" motivation. Also watching Steven Colbert's interview with Maurice Sendak about Colbert's kids book "I Am A Pole (And So Can You) was pretty funny. 
How did you learn to format your books and get them published?I've been a Graphic Designer for about 10 years so the formatting part was easy. I had a few bumps with converting to the eBook though. The Kindle wasn't made for kids books, customized type or large images. While Amazon has made a lot of progress in these areas, it took a lot of tweaking to get the images not tiny and the type to stay on the page. A lot of Googling was involved and even then, I had to play around. 
What site/blog/ebook had the best advice for you starting out?Authors Marketing Club and the KPD forums has good info. I really started out reading everything I could find on the internet regarding self-publishing. I learned it's best to not read articles or posts over 6-months old though as self-publishing is quickly evolving.

When you write, what is your process?I think about what I want to read my kid. I like to address a need like getting them to sleep or helping them understand why parents make them do certain things. Then I need to make it a bit different than the thousands of books out there. There are tons of books with characters from Movies that kids enjoy. I want to give someone a reason to buy a book from an unknown author and new characters. 
Do you have a professional editor and proofreader? How did you find them?My husband edits and I use I found from a Google search. 
How has social media helped with your business?It's hard to tell. It definitely helps when I'm doing a promotion. I think the word "free" has a way of expanding across the internet. 
Do you get many people responding to your facebook posts, tweets, pins and blog posts?Not much. The vast majority of my family and friends don't know I self-publish so I'm building my social media from the bottom up. I've only recently been trying to work on making some fun social content. I got about 14 Google plus hits on a recent post so it's looking up. 
You have a few great posts on your blog. The one I really enjoyed, as did many of my followers, was the one about 'Top 9 Bad Reasons to Give Someone a 1 Star Review.' Can you please tell us how you deal with bad reviews?I handcuff myself to a wall so I can't respond to the haters. Just kidding. I do think that responding to 1 stars is just shooting yourself in the foot. It's better to be more passive-aggressive and get all your friends to hit the "not helpful" button and try to get more reviews so that 1 star is buried. 
If you had one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you when you first started self-publishing, what would it be?Don't stress over it. This is something you chose to do or not do so keep it fun.

Mary Lee is a self-publisher, graphic designer and a mom. She lives in the States with her two children, two dogs and 'a mini-cactus named spike'. I would encourage everyone who is reading this to please go and give Mary Lee some social networking love! You can find her here:

Thanks again, Mary for your time. Its been wonderful to see your new ebooks pop up on Amazon and to promote them on our Ebook Mama's site. Your books are fantastic and I can see you work with excellence!

~ Joy Findlay


  1. "I think about what I want to read my kid"

    I honestly think its this sort of mentality that breeds good books and stories. If you want to read something that you can't find, write it. I don't remember who said it, but I want to say it was King. I don't know. Either way, congratulations on your success!

  2. I've passed on your comment to Mary Lee. Thank you for your kind words Peter! ~ Joy