'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Guest Post: Wendy Haynes on Where Stories Take You

I didn’t think Hayden’s Bedtime was going to be my first published book.

The story for Hayden’s Bedtime had been brewing for a while. I wrote it for my grandson, who has trouble falling asleep at night.

My son Clint has all sorts of trouble getting Hayden off to sleep every night. I wrote the book to make bedtime a fun and happy experience with dad checking behind the door, under the bed, inside the cupboard, and in the drawer.

I had been writing a middle-grade fantasy fiction for a few years (which is finished now and due out this year), but when an opportunity came via a council-run mentoring program to help creatives turn their passion into a business, I jumped at the chance. The idea was to have a product or service to sell by the end of the program.

At the beginning of August 2018, I received a call telling me I was accepted into the program. I was on my way to a self-imposed writing retreat in Lorne – only thirty minutes down the road with the intention to work on my middle-grade novel, The Door in the Woods. The Airbnb I was staying at had bad phone reception – I had to stand on the back veranda to make and receive calls. The internet connection was only available on the front deck, perfect. I took enough supplies to ensure there was no reason to leave, though I did reward myself with a cappuccino at a café in Kendall.

As most writers know, it is impossible to work on one story for the whole day, well, four days to be exact. I read, I edited what I wrote, and expanded the outline, and I started to write down ideas for Hayden’s Bedtime. I’m not sure why, but when I write poems or in picture book form, I nearly always write in rhyme. I also use a notebook rather than using the computer; the rhythm flows better for me that way.

Once I had most of the story down, I transferred it onto the computer to edit. It was at this point that I decided this book would be the project for the mentoring program.

The first thing I did from that point was to have my manuscript assessed not once, but twice. This is such an important step and was vital in ensuring my book would be the best it could be.

I then went on the prowl for an illustrator. I found my illustrator Brett Curzon through Illustrators Australia, and after negotiations, he commenced the illustrations. To self-publish a book is to become a publisher and all of what that entails – so, Inprint Publishing was born.

With every book sold, $2 goes to a local community organisation Liberty Service who helps families live free of domestic violence. Since the publication of Hayden’s Bedtime, getting it out into the greater Australian community has been a constant effort. It has been added to the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge and distributed through Woodslane or available through my website.

My advice if you are going down the self-publishing road is it is best to publish a text-based book first, and it’s the more affordable option. Also, having a checklist and doing some research is vital to ensuring sales and reaching your audience. But the most important thing is to keep practicing your craft.

Wendy Haynes is the author of Hayden’s Bedtime, a picture book written for children aged 3-6 years old. The book was developed with her grandson Hayden in mind and his fear of going to bed. The book was originally released late March 2019 and is illustrated by the talented Brett Curzon. She has completed a Diploma in Creative Writing at Southern Cross University, and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and has conducted motivational and writing workshops on and offline through her business Writing for Keeps. Wendy is the founder of Inprint Publishing, where you can find more information at the website: www.inprintpublishing.com.au/