Self Publishing: An Interview with Gillian Rogerson
Gillian Rogerson is a children’s author from Leeds. Having found inspiration from reading to her children she decided to pursue her passion for writing with the hope of getting published. To date, she has had 6 picture books published as well as many e-books. She also writes adult fiction under the name Gillian Larkin allowing her to look at more complex issues.
The first in what will become a regular feature on the Pen Heaven blog, we spoke to Gillian to find out a little bit more about her work and how she went about getting published.
So how did you get into writing? What’s your background?
I always loved writing at school and made my own booklets at an early age, unfortunately I never sold any even at the price of 2p. There was never an option to consider writing as a career; it seemed to be something that happened to other people. I ended up working in an insurance office but still had the dream of being a writer.
Why did you decide to be a children’s author?
I always had this yearning to be a writer but I never knew what stories I wanted to write until I had my children. We spent hours reading picture books and then making our own stories up. That's when I got excited about writing picture book stories, they seemed to represent the magical sharing time between a parent and child.
I understand you also write adult fiction. How does the creative process vary?
Well, I can write longer words and deal with more complex issues. I've only started this recently and feel like I'm finding my feet - and my voice. I'm reading a lot more and noting how different authors deal with emotions and the ways they might use alternatives to said etc. As I grow in confidence I'm finding it easier to write more words. As a children's author I usually write less than 1,000 for a picture book. I use the same creative process: I have a general idea for a story and let it develop as I write. I have tried plotting stories before I write but this hasn't worked for me as I change my mind as I write when better ideas come to me.
Talk us through getting published for the first time. How did it happen? How did it feel?
I had an almost publish before a real publish so I was a bit wary at first of a true offer. The almost publish involved a trip to London to discuss a text, I made changes as requested by the publisher - but then they changed their minds. My first published book, The Teddy Bear Scare, started off the same with requested changes. Fortunately the publisher went ahead and I held the book two years later. It felt amazing, particularly as it had taken me 5 years to get to that point, I had submitted over 60 stories to various publishers.
You previously said to me that you’ve recently got into self-publishing. How did that come about and what’s the process like?
I have had my stories rejected by publishers for various reasons. Having published books is no guarantee of future publishing contracts. I researched self-publishing and thought I'd give it a go with my unpublished stories. I love every story that I write and I love to share them. I have had positive reviews for my ebook stories, comments from children saying how much they loved my stories - which made my heart sing. The first book that was an almost publish has now been published as a free book, the title is Watch Out For The Bears. It's gained the most amazing reviews and I'm so glad it finally got published.
What are some of the barriers you encounter with self-publishing?
I can't really think of any. You can have an idea for a book, write the story and publish it within a week. I did this with one of my stories and had a sale within 24 hours. There is still a stigma that self-publishing isn't real publishing but I'm sharing my stories with parents and their children. That's what I set out to do.
Do you think that self-publishing is leading more people to pursue their passion for writing?
I hope so. I love hearing about success from self-published authors. It's refreshing to read a variety of author voices that haven't been 'polished' to fit in with everyone else. I don't even mind typos and spelling mistakes in ebooks - I know mine have them no matter how many times I check! If someone has the urge to tell a story then they should just do it, don't listen to anyone else.
What’s a typical working day like for you?
I have my family to look after and I work at a local primary school. I fit my writing in when I can, usually at the end of the day. I try to stick to my rule of writing at least 1,000 words a day. Weekends are better because I can get 3,000 to 4,000 words written. I don't manage to write every day, sometimes life (school plays, parents' evenings) gets in the way. It doesn't matter, I just continue the next day.
What have you been working on recently and what have you got lined up for the future?
I published some children's stories that I had to get out there; some of them are free as I love sharing stories. I've recently published 2 short stories in a new series that I'm working on called Storage Ghosts. I love the TV shows that show storage locker auctions, I'm always fascinated by the things that people find. I wondered what would happen if ghosts were attached to these things, what would their stories be? Would they need help to 'move on'? I really enjoyed writing them and I have ideas for more stories. Plus, it gives me an excuse to watch the TV shows. These stories are written under Gillian Larkin as I wanted to keep my children's stories separate under my name of Gillian Rogerson. I'm aiming to put the first book in each series free, I like to share my work!