Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Busy Mama, Busy Self-Publisher

I was asked yesterday how do I manage being a stay at home mum (SAHM) and a self-publishing business owner. It is a really great question. I have only been a sole trader business for 18 months and learning to manage my home, the squidlets, laundry and a book business has been interesting. It became much easier when my daughter turned three and we could place her in kindy a few days a week. It also helped that my hubby lived in another city at the time, studying towards his degree. Empty evenings became full of writing and illustrating, formatting and publishing.

I love what I do and I only do what I love. That means the stuff that I should be doing doesn't always get done. I am two months behind on my accounts, and laundry - although washed and dried daily, it doesn't make it off 'cloth mountain' until the weekend. Some days I nail it! I write new stories, connect with my illustrator, promote my books and a bunch of others, and move up the Amazon rankings, all the while keeping kids safe, fed, clothed and the house spotless. Other days – not so much. It wasn't until after leaving the house, dropping Mr 5 off at school, and arriving at our first appointment today that I realised that, not only had I not brushed my daughter's hair, but she had glumps of tooth paste in it, on her face and on her Petal the Owl hat. Oh. My. Goodness!

What I have come to realise is that my business comes second to my kids - always. It didn't use to. I spent camping last New Years glued to my laptop watching book sales roll in – not that watching it would have made any iota of difference to the numbers. I get carried away at times, so excited about writing my latest story, reading my latest novel, watching my latest numbers that I forget that two littlies need my care and attention. Tooth paste fights in the upstairs bathroom only ever happen when they believe I'm not going to take notice.

We have a rule in the house now. No computer time before or after school. That rule applies only to me. Pretty bad, I know, but at least it works - until I made the local paper yesterday and got inundated with workshop registration enquiries.

I'm a SAHM who sells self-published children's ebooks on Amazon. And I am bloody good at it!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mum's Blog Interview

I was interviewed by a Mum's Blog today and through I'd share the interview here. Enjoy reading!

Describe your business in a sentence.
Findlay Books publishes children's ebooks written by Joy Findlay. We began by writing, illustrating and publishing all our own ebooks on and became so successful that we now work with illustrators and teach others how to self-publish their own books for both print and digital retail. Along side this we run a website that promotes free Kindle ebooks for Mum's and bubs. Ok that was more than one sentence – sorry.

How did it all begin?
My husband was studying at the University in Auckland while I raised two young kids in Hamilton. We just couldn't afford to live together in the bigger city. We had him home on weekends but it was a lonely time for me as a stay at home mum. He purchased me a gift, a tablet computer and as I began to download books from Amazon for myself and the kids, I realised there weren't a whole lot of cheaper books that I wanted to purchase for the kids. That was when I realised I could probably make better ebooks and sell them myself on Amazon. And that was how it all started.

We have published 66 ebooks on Amazon and have over 200,000 children's ebooks out in the world now. I have had huge success with it that I am now teaching other people how to self-publish their own stories and picture books.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned in the last couple of weeks?
The best thing I have learned in the last couple of weeks is to not stress the small stuff. At the moment Amazon has made some pretty major changes on their site and self-published authors like myself are seeing sales slow down quite a bit. It has forced us to get together online and talk about how to promote our books better. I have loved learning from these international children's book authors and am looking forward to Christmas and New Years again which is our busiest time of the year. Their biggest advice was to just chill. I love it!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an air hostess, a writer, and film and TV director then I wanted world peace. I out grew the air hostess dream, and interestingly the writer dream too. I skipped both of them and made my way into TV and video production from high school. Since then I've discovered my writing dreams again and who know, maybe one day we will find world peace!

What’s your best skill outside of writing and selling children's eBooks?
I am what I call myself a 'Digital Builder'. You give me images and audio and I can put together your video. Give me images and words and there is your ebook. Sometimes it works with cooking ingredients too. I love being creative and experimenting, it energises me.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday?
My husband has been studying off and on now for 5 years. Because of his crazy work load and university schedule, we decided that he wouldn't study on the weekends if he could help it. Our Sundays are our family time where we take the kids (Kiara, 4 and Zach, 5) to the beach for a play, the park for a bike ride or the lake to feed the ducks. That is my absolute favourite thing to do on Sundays at the moment.

What embarrassing incident have you never gotten over?
Oh goodness, um, that would have to be the time this guy asked me if I liked him, to my face and I said that I did. He told me, flat out, that he was sorry but he didn't like me that way. Ok, so this incident might not really count because two months later he asked me out and we were married seven months later!

How do you jiggle the juggle?
Ok, so I had to google this question to understand what was being asked and laughed at the fitness bra ads and juggling routines. I think I'm being asked how do I manage being a busy mum and raising two squidlets while running a home based business – here's hoping...

At first it was hard to manage everything, but having kids in school and kindy has helped a lot. My two kids are an integral part of my creative writing process. If I need a name for characters I ask them, and I pass the book by them before I publishing it. I guess you could call them my quality control. They are apart of our ebook publishing business just as much as my technical-brains husband is.

A majority of my work is focused on building my author platform which involves marketing and promotions. On top of that I am meeting new people every week who are interested in learning how to self-publish. Social networking is a must for self-published authors and I spend at least 4 hours a day online connecting, promoting and reading articles about the publishing industry in New Zealand and around the world.

I connect with my illustrator at least once a month and meet with other writers each fortnight.

This has to all happen around the school and kindy run and cooking dinner, but sometimes the local roast takeaway comes in handy. Lets just say that laundry is the one ball I drop often and, although I wash clothes daily, it doesn't get folded and back into draws until later each weekend.

What does the future of Findlay Books hold?
We are really excited about our next three children's books being published as ebooks and print books in November. These three books are NZ themed books for kiwi kids. One is all about a weta finding a new home, another is about our DIY nature and revolves around a robot being built, and my third is about camping in the back yard with Dadda. I can't wait to show the world the amazing illustrations my good friend Paul Lafaele is putting together for them.

We are also running a 6 hour workshop on self-publishing for those who are interested in learning more about how to self-publish from NZ. So if you have a story in your heart that you have always longed to publish but didn't know how, then this workshop is for you. It is being held on 16th November in Avondale, Auckand, and will cost you $60.00 to attend.

How do we find you?
For our children's ebook catalogue and more information on our Self-Publishing Workshop, please visit our website:
For giveaways and updates on our new release books, join us on Facebook: and for finding free kindle ebooks daily, visit

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Touching Base

Time management – something every great writer and self-publisher has a successful handle on. Me – not so much. In between feeding a family of five (including one cat), umpiring squidlet disputes, laundry, shopping, school holidays and a social life, writing and self-promotion gets kinda lost in the mix.
I haven't touched this blog since my last post 22nd September and for a blogger that is pathetic! It is no wonder that a guest post that my good friend and fellow self-publisher Zee Southcombe shared on my blog brought in three times as many readers than most of mine. She is damn good at what she does and I do not doubt she will be selling books long before she has even published them.

So what have I been doing since last month? Reading. Yep, loads of reading! And not just the good stuff either. To learn my trade, I have been reading what rates as a good book and what doesn't meet the mark. I've been reading heaps of kids books too – some great, some not so great. And I've been reading romance novels and YA/NA too, but discovered that I prefer the 16k novellas – the longer reads keep me up until 2am.

I've actually discovered there is a real market for short stories – or novellas. It seems to be a common marketing tool – write a novella, get readers invested in your characters and their drama, sell it for free or .99 and direct traffic to your next full novel in the series. I've also seen novella writers pop one out each month/couple of months to keep their books in the 'New Release' sections of the online retailers. Dang – if they can write that much each month then good for them. It seems to be a successful marketing tool for some, and for others it is just too much to get done in short space of time.

I've been connecting with many other Amazon children's authors online too. It has been really encouraging that I'm not the only indie author who has seen a major drop in book sales over the last few months. And it isn't just kids books either. It seems to be across the board, worldwide. So I’ve been 'hanging' out with other authors to share advice on how to make things work for us again. I've enjoyed getting to know these amazing people.

And I have been organising a Pamper Me Giveaway for another book promotion business I run. There are some amazing prizes for one lucky Kiwi Mama to win. I've collaborated with a few other businesses this time and can see the value in this already even in our first day running it. I'm hoping to gain more interested in my promotions site and gain a little momentum with that. Its my 'promotions nest egg' for in five years time when EVERYONE AND THEIR DOG are publishing kids ebooks and you wont be able to see mine for the trees. It is working. And I'm enjoying it.

So, six weeks out and we start promotions for our next Self-Publishing Workshop. We will be promoting it here quite a bit so apologies if you get sick of it. :) But it is worth it. We cover the basics of self-publishing, covering everything from using a professional editor to cover art to working with image heavy fixed file ebooks. It will be a fantastic workshop for anyone who would love to learn more about self-publishing from NZ. So if you know anyone who might be interested, please let them know!

Thanks for reading, hope the absence hasn't put you off.

Until next time, keep self-publishing!