I’m very excited that critique customer and prolific writer Elizabeth Radcliffe has launched her first book, and it’s all about the most famous cat in Britain – Larry at Number 10! I sent Elizabeth some questions and I think you’ll agree her energy and enthusiasm just fizz off the page! Read on for some great tips and insight into the self publishing process.
Elizabeth, congratulations on the publication of Larry at Number 10! What made you want to write about Larry? Is he the ultimate celebrity cat, do you think?
I do believe that Larry is the ultimate celebrity cat. Larry seems to have captured the hearts of people all over the world. He has that WOW factor. I liked the idea of writing about him, but I needed a good story and when Dilyn the Dog came along – BOOM – there it was. It is basically a spin on a little person having to cope with a new baby in the house. In these crazy dark time people see Larry as a beam of light.
You’ve been working hard on social media and have had some great interaction with the political cats on Twitter – has it been easy to build up a following and what have you enjoyed about it?
For me social media has been KING! I have to say I have been working very hard on social media to build up a following posting numerous times a day. (But please see below about over posting your book). I have thoroughly enjoyed the process. Each night I prepare what I will post the next day. I also look for relevant retweets or posts that are in keeping with my social media feeds. It’s actually a lot of fun. Make sure you interact with other people’s posts as well and try and follow back or make friends with those who follow/befriend you. Social Media is like Super Sonic networking. Through Twitter I got a write up on Larry at Number 10 in the Evening Standard Diaries and will soon have an article in the Daily Star.
How does having your own cat, Boots, affect your writing?
Boots is 6 months old and very playful. It is challenging as when I am trying to write Boots has other ideas. Boots is such a character I may well write a book with him in. As I type this one handed, I am throwing toys with the other for Boots to catch.
Having critiqued a lot of your stories, I know what a prolific writer you are and how many brilliant ideas you have! Why did you pick Larry at Number 10 to publish first?
Oh, thank you Lou. I know my stories are in safe hands when I give them to you. I picked Larry as he really exists along with Gladstone, Palmerston and Dilyn. For me it was a no brainer as the characters of my book already have fans and active social media platforms. The main Larry the Cat Twitter feed @number10cat has over 400k members. This Twitter feed has highlighted my book and generated over 2k likes. This twitter feed will also run a competition soon to win a copy of my book. So, in a nutshell I wrote a book where children know that the characters are real.
What has your self-publishing experience been like? Would you recommend it to other writers?
I would recommend it. But as you are in the driving seat you need to make sure you give it 100% and again, I can’t stress enough how important social media is, to promote your book. Since last March I have given 100% to launching my book. If you really believe in your book and a traditional publishing deal is not forthcoming – GO FOR IT!
The illustrations are superb and so funny! How did you choose your illustrator, Dave Hill, and how did you find the process of working with him?
This has to be one of the joys of self-publishing I had so much control. I had lots of fun looking at illustrator portfolios and picking the illustrator I believed fitted my book. When I saw Dave Hill’s illustrations, I just knew he would be perfect to bring Larry to life. Working with Dave has been a dream we have a wonderful relationship. We chatted on the phone for ages discussing what I wanted. I was sent several sets of draft illustrations whereby I was able to add things or tweak before the final illustrations were produced. If I do another Larry book, then I would very much want Dave to illustrate again. It was a match made in heaven.
What are your aims for this year and will there be any more cat books in the future?
I would love to write more Larry books – I have so many ideas bubbling around inside my head. But I am always thinking of book ideas and if I think it will “fly” I go with it and start writing. It would also be nice to get a traditional publishing deal as well. I do keep sending manuscripts out to agents and publishers. As far as rejections are concerned, I have the T-shirt, the tea towel and some! I just keep going and sending out as I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I have to ask – have you sent a copy to Number 10?
I will be sending to Number 10. I mean Wilfred will have a book based on pets that live in his home. How many children can say that!
And finally, what are your top three tips for authors looking to self publish?
Research – look at as many options as possible. See what reviews they have had on previous publications. Troubador Publishing whom I used were highly recommended and I had the service and result that I wanted.
Be wary – some self-publishers may be cheaper than others but be careful that the quality is perfect. I wanted my book to look like any you may see on the shelves of Waterstones and WH Smiths.
Social Media – I can’t emphasise this enough – become Facebook, Twitter and Instagram friendly (or at least use one social media platform). If you are not social media savvy – ask a friend or relative who is to assist you in setting up accounts. With these social media platforms, you have the ability to get your book out there to potentially millions of people. But be careful not to just tweet or post about your book (so there is no overkill). On my social media I post about cat and dog stuff, news on the Westminster cats etc. Use hashtags they are your friends.
Thank you Elizabeth, that was truly inspirational!
Elizabeth is happy to help anyone with queries about social media and publicity for self publishing – you can get in touch via Twitter at @ElizabethRadcl5