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Abigay’s Farm – Assisted Self-Publishing

June 22, 2021


I have had six books traditionally published. Some friends thought that this would help me to get my children’s novel ‘Abigay’s Farm’ traditionally published.  However, it didn’t work like that.

I certainly tried.  I wrote to over 34 agencies – very time-consuming but no luck.  I received some compliments. One agent said that ‘sadly it was a near miss’. I knew that an agent’s goal is to help build up an author’s career. I might write other books one day, but my main aim was to get ‘Abigay’s Farm’ published.

I had worked on it for around four years.  A good friend and colleague from the Islington Writers for Children – John O’Leary – had helped me to edit it.  We worked on it together for around eighteen months. Then two other kind members of the group, Sunita Nahar and Stephanie Ward cast critical eyes over the text. I felt it was as good as we could get it and I wanted children to be able to read and enjoy the story.

I turned to the supportive organisation SCBWI – The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – and asked via Facebook if anyone had experience of self-publishing.  A reply came back quickly.  Someone said she had had books published by a company that offered  a service called Assisted Publishing.  She said they weren’t cheap but she highly recommended them. She has had her last few books published by them.  Other people replied that they found the whole self-publishing experience via Amazon both satisfactory and at almost no cost, unless you wanted to pay for a cover artist. I knew that I would not be able to cope with all the necessary IT details myself.  They would seem like ‘nightmares’ to me, so I turned to the recommended Assisted Publishing company.

I contacted the company and really liked their whole approach.  I consulted the Society of Authors about the contract. They approved and I was happy to sign.  Next time, as I get further along the process towards publication, I’ll give the name of the company and can hopefully show you the cover but that has not been designed yet.  So far, the text has been proofread.  I await the next stage of the process.  I have been given a list of the many things that will have to be decided. It is impressive. Thankfully it was decided that the story had already been successfully edited. The likely publication date is October this year.

Things have changed since my last published book. This was ‘My Big Brother JJ’, published 2009.  Nowadays an author has to do as much as possible to market their own books.

Abigay’s Farm’ , a novel for ages 9-12 is coming soon.

I made my way downstairs and entered the kitchen carefully. Grandpa was sitting quietly at the table with the tin box in front of him. There was a chair pulled out next to him that was clearly for me. I sat down and waited. The ginger farm cat peered in the window before darting off who-knows-where.

Neither of us spoke. I heard the constant ‘whooshing’ of the dishwasher and stared at the numbers counting down on the display panel.

I wondered whether Grandpa really did have something to say to me when he cleared his throat and glanced at me awkwardly.

‘1966,’ he said softly, pointing to the mysterious box and the objects laid out around it. ‘That’s when we did these.’

I waited.

‘It’s all about history, you know,’ he said eventually.

Another pause.

‘I was about your age when our teacher got us to do them – time capsules she said they were.

“Bury things that mean something to you,” she said. “Then when people open them in a hundred years, they’ll know all about you and the times you lived in.”

On the lids we wrote Do NOT Open until 2066.  You can’t see the writing anymore. I think I must have used the wrong kind of ink.

But you know what? Now is as good a time as any. Maybe, it’s important for you and Gabriel to learn about the old days and the old ways – and anyway, we can always bury it again afterwards.’

He shifted around and looked at me directly. I could see he wasn’t angry anymore but there was a sadness in his eyes.

‘You and I are not so different, Girl,’ he said. ’You do know that, don’t you?’

‘A long time ago, I was young too. What I’m trying to say is…,’ he paused.

‘Abigay, I think I owe you a big apology.’

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2021 8:46 am

    Thanks for this peek inside the life of an author and all the ways that publishing has changed over the last few years. And especially, thanks for the excerpt of Abigay’s Farm — it’s captivating.

    I am thrilled to see Abigay’s Farm coming to life and I’m excited to get a copy of this book in my hands and the hands of all the children I know. It’s got all the elements of a great middle grade novel in a great story and I’ve marked my calendar with the launch date.

    Best of luck with the publishing process, Odette!

  2. June 23, 2021 8:49 am

    Reblogged this on Stephanie Ward and commented:
    Fellow children’s book author, Odette Elliott, shares her experiences with the publishing and how it has changed since her first books were published. Plus, get a sneak peek of her upcoming middle grade novel, Abigay’s Farm.

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