A Book Can Show Itself in Many Disguises by Mary-Jill Bellhouse

From time to time in this space, Balboa Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. These are the words of Mary-Jill Bellhouse, author of “Your Living Family Tree – Discover Your Family Stories: The Easy Step-By-Step Guide”, published by Balboa Press, September 2014 (ISBN: 978-1-4525-2477-1). For more info on Mary-Jill or her book, check out her website. Download the Balboa Press free publishing guide to receive more information on self-publishing your book with Balboa Press.  

Twenty years ago I discovered that my aunt and uncle – eminent musicians – had been interviewed about their lives and careers, by the National Library of Australia Oral History Program. When I listened to the recordings I heard family stories being told that I’d never heard before and I learned lots of interesting information about my ancestors. So I decided to become an Oral Historian and professionally record family and community histories.

9781452524795Along the way, people said to me, ‘I’d love to record my own family history, but I don’t know where to begin.’ So, I was inspired to put together an e-book from a rough set of notes and questions which I usually took with me to interviews.

Then in 2012, I was drawn to the Hay House Sydney Writers’ Workshop where, in a casual conversation, a representative from Balboa Press suggested I self-publish my e-book as a ‘trade’ book. So my journey with Balboa Press began.

I chose one of their basic self-publishing packages which cost about $2500. It particularly appealed to me because it included e-book formatting and publishing, editing, layout, cover design and worldwide distribution to Balboa’s bookseller contacts including a comprehensive entry on Amazon.

Frequent bouts of self-doubt about my ability to produce anything worthwhile meant that I was a bit slow in actually producing a manuscript. However, my Balboa Check-In Coordinators gently encouraged me to keep going and in September 2014 my book went ‘live’.

Although my relationship with Balboa encountered a couple of ‘blips’ along the way (which were quickly resolved by open mutual communication), our journey together was quite smooth. MJBEach stage was managed seamlessly. I was advised every step of the way what would happen next; I always received a response to my emailed questions within 24 hours or less; it was nice to receive positive personal feedback from the Editors about the actual content and when I provided my own artwork for the cover, after a couple of tweaks, I was thrilled with the design that Balboa came up with. My first look at the finished product when I received my package of free copies was exhilarating!

So far, I have chosen to do my own marketing, but progress has been slow as it’s taken me a year to recover from injuries sustained in an accident just after my book went ‘live’. It may have been more successful had I been able to afford the fairly expensive marketing package offered to me earlier by Balboa as an add-on service, but I am enjoying my progress so far and I might enlist their help in the future. In the meantime, a number of local retailers are selling my book and it’s exciting to find it in online bookshops all over the world.

I am passionate about my book’s message.  Its subject is unique but – considering the current universal obsession with discovering our family history – I think it perfectly complements the information being made available by the global network of family history websites. So, if you want to get your own message out into the world, go to a Hay House Writers’ Workshop and find out firsthand about how Balboa Press can help you self-publish. I am happy with the journey I have undertaken with Balboa Press, and I would have no hesitation in partnering with them again to self-publish my next book.

Balboa Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BalboaPress, by tweeting us @BalboaPress, or by emailing blog@ balboapress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. Balboa Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space. 

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