The unexpected bonuses of writing a book

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Self-published 1st edition
Self-published 1st edition

Back in 2013 I wrote my book, The Boy From Hell: Life with a Child with ADHD. I’d always wanted to write a book and it was really just my own blind ambition that led to it actually happening. What I wasn’t expecting was that writing a book would open a whole lot of opportunities for me that raised my profile in some interesting and unexpected ways!

Every book is different, every author is unique and your own journey after publication will follow a different path – but I thought it was worth sharing my story to give you an idea of where writing a book took me. I’d love to hear your own stories – please do leave a comment!

1. My book has helped countless other parents

Although friends kept telling me a book about my own experience of raising a child with ADHD would be useful for other parents, I didn’t really believe it until the emails started to arrive. “You’ve showed me there is light at the end of the tunnel – thank you!” the first one said. Another talked about how the tips I’d offered were starting to improve everyday life. One Amazon review says: “It’s given us hope for our son’s future.” You have no idea how good comments like that make me feel – and still do.

2. I was invited to speak at conferences and events

Until The Boy From Hell was published I was just the parent of a child with special needs. As far as I was concerned, the book didn’t change anything – but strangely, I was now the parent of a child with special needs who had written a book about it, and that suddenly thrust me into the role of ADHD expert. And as soon as I was recognised as an expert I was invited to speak at conferences around the country! It started small – a library talk to 6 people, a local ADHD support group with about 20 people – but the invitations became ever more impressive and I found myself speaking at industry conferences around the country. The highlight was probably when I told my story to over 300 medical and educational practitioners at the 2014 Cerebra conference in London.

3. I appeared on local and national radio – and on national TV!

After the book came out I contacted local radio stations to see if they would be interested in interviewing me  and this led to interviews on our local station BBC Oxford and also on Jack FM, the local commercial station. I also listened out for ADHD being discussed on national talk stations BBC Five Live and LBC and phoned in if I had something to contribute. This led to me being added to their “experts” directory and one Friday afternoon I found myself in a lively debate with journalist and writer Peter Hitchens about the rights and wrongs of ADHD medication!

Being known as an “expert” also meant my son and I were featured (albeit briefly) in a documentary about Olympic gymnast and Strictly winner Louis Smith, who has ADHD, and I was also interviewed for SKY News when they had a big story about ADHD.

4. I had articles published in speciality and national magazines

Again this took a little work on my part, at least initially. I contacted various magazines that focused on special needs, disability and education and asked if I could contribute an article. I was delighted when SEN Magazine agreed to not just one but a series of three features! I also contacted the local press who published a number of stories about me and the book. The most unexpected outcome here though was when Bella magazine phoned and requested a story! It was to coincide with a plot line in Coronation Street about ADHD and the article was actually written by a Bella journalist after a long telephone conversation – and they paid me for it!

Traditionallly published 2nd edition
Traditionally published 2nd edition

5. My book was republished by a traditional publisher

On a whim, I contacted Jessica Kingsley Publishing, who specialise in books on disability and special educational needs, to see if they would be interested in my book, and to my surprise they said they would love to publish a fully updated version! So, three years after the original book was self-published, a shiny new version came out.  It’s not been as fulfilling as I hoped, and I talk about that in this post, but there is a certain kudos to being a “properly” published author rather than a self-published one!

 

6. Writing the book changed the direction of my career

Seeing how much people got from the book, I decided to take it a few steps further and created an online programme, a series of workshops and even ran a very successful one-day conference with a dozen speakers and 75 delegates! I was also encouraged to start helping other people to write books, and the services I offer as The Proof Fairy reflect that change.

The Czech version!
The Czech version!

7. It’s been translated into Czechoslovakian!

In perhaps the most bizarre twist, JKP sold the rights for my book to a Czech publisher, Portal, and the book has been translated and is on sale there under the title “My baby has ADHD: how to survive with him”!

Those are just a few of this outcomes of writing a book. If you’re a published author, what was the most surprising outcome for you? I’d love to hear your stories – do leave a comment!

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