It has officially been one whole year since I made the epic decision not to return to my nine-to-five. At the time it was terrifying, exhilarating, and freeing. But over the last twelve months there have been more ups and downs than I can count, and a few sideways moves too.
You'll notice, looking at my blog, that absolutely nothing was posted in the last year. And that's because I made the biggest error that any rookie solopreneur can make - I stretched myself too thin. It happened by accident, but it was a tough lesson to learn and one that Future Me will not be repeating in a hurry.
In fact, my latest non-fiction project is a book titled How to Start a Business on Your Maternity Leave and it will be based largely on all of the things I didn't do – or did too much of!
So, What's Been Going On?
Without going over the entire year month-by-month and boring the pants off you, the primary business I thought I wanted to focus on in 2018-2019 was the educational publishing arm of my imprint Bewick Press. My husband is an English teacher and creates fantastically original resources. So, we developed a range of revision cards that we thought would go down a storm in the Secondary School market.
The problem? Schools have very little money and without an enormous advertising budget we were simply unable to penetrate the market. Reducing the RRP of the cards may have helped, but we didn't have the capital to print the numbers required to get it down to something sensible.
I also began a scheme called The Young Author Project, which was free for schools to take part in and aimed to teach young people about writing and publishing. Everyone who took part had their work published in an anthology and the aim was to derive income from book sales to schools and parents. Books were priced at normal paperback price because I didn't want to be one of those companies manipulating parents into spending heaps of money.
Unfortunately, though, this meant that at the end of the year, having crunched the numbers, we made a loss on the project. We barely generated enough from each school who took part to cover mailing the certificates and badges to the students, let alone the hours and hours it took to put together the anthologies and create the online resources.
Quite frankly, this revelation broke my heart. The Young Author Project was my baby, something I was so proud of and that meant a great deal to the students who took part. But at the start of the summer we were refused funding from the Arts Council and last week I made the decision to close down the project. At least for now.
The Accidental Business
While all of that was going on, because The Young Author Project and our revision cards weren't actually making any money, I've been working as a writing mentor, self-publishing consultant, ghost writer, and author services provider. Basically, helping other authors make their books great and get them published.
I've also been trying to squeeze in a bit of my own writing and was recently longlisted for the Mslexia Children's Novel Competition, which is the absolute biggest thing to happen in my writing career to date.