Today Amba Brown joins us to discuss how she came to write her Finding Your Path Series and the challenges that remain after publication.
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The Road to Becoming an Author
Positive psychology author, Amba Brown shares her journey
What it’s really like as an author today.
It’s not easy selling books.
Maybe this isn’t the positive statement you wanted to hear from a positive psychology author.
Can you write and sell a book? Without a doubt.
It is easy? Not at all.
That is unless you’re famous or already have an extremely large following. In the same respect, I would never discourage anyone from writing a book. I strongly believe if you have a story or message that you want to share — you should and you can. With self-publishing today, you can have written and published a book in less time than it takes to clean your house.
The hardest part is selling it.
There have been more than 198,000 books published already this year alone. You can watch the count go up here if you don’t believe me: http://www.worldometers.info/books/
While it’s undoubtedly amazing that we have an abundance of information at our fingertips (although admittedly not equal in quality), in the same breath it can feel defeating. If you wanted to read all the books in the world, you wouldn’t even scrape the surface of those published this month.
For a writer starting out — these figures can be overwhelming. How can you ever compete?
When I began writing my book series I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
I didn’t even know it would turn into a series. It was just a book I wanted to write for graduates. One I wish I had when finishing school.
I fumbled through one step at a time, and still find myself feeling this way often. But the process has become much clearer with hindsight. What I did right and wrong the first time, and the next and the next… and so it goes on always finding improvements to the process.
It was 2013, when I finished my first manuscript ‘Finding Your Path — A guide to life & happiness after school’. I promptly sent it out to all of the publishers I thought it was right for. Then I sat back and waited for it to be snatched up.
I heard crickets!
Then I learnt you need an agent to find a publisher. This was obviously what I was doing wrong! I proceeded to send the manuscript to 100 agents and the best I got back was a couple of “No thank you” email responses.
Just hearing a response at this point was a positive.
By now I had realised this wasn’t going to pan out how I’d imagined. I’d also accepted the book might only end up being read by my 5 younger siblings. If that was the worst thing that would happen, I would survive.
With less wind in my sails than a few months before I started on a journey of learning to self-publish.
I have to say it is often made out as the “easy option”. The less prestigious path.
While it can be quick, as I noted above, if you want to create an edited, designed, printed and high-quality product than there are many moving parts to consider.
Without going into too much detail, in 2015 I eventually self-published the book. It took me about 24 hours to realise that everything to date was actually the easy part and now I had to work out how to build awareness and ultimately get the book in peoples hands.
Over the next two years, I tried to do just this. Very slowly I might add. There was no overnight success story. Just doing something small each day towards spreading the word.
During this time, I received a couple of multiple bulk orders from schools and gained a decent number of local stockists (about 10 stores).
It was in 2017, that I received an email that would make most authors day. After finding the book in one of the few stores, a scout from an international publisher, one of the top 5 — HarperCollins wanted to take over the rights of the book. I was over the moon!
I also naively thought this was the answer to all of my marketing worries.
Today it’s more common than not that you will continue to market and spread the word yourself.
In the background, I had also begun working on the series.
While the first book was a product of me recognising we needed a resource to support students finishing school, the second book came after observing my youngest brother transition to high school. It made me realise it was all of the transitions in youth that needed support, leading to the creation of ‘Finding Your Path — A guide to starting high school with a smile’ for those starting high school, and ‘Finding Your Path — A happy start to school’ for kids starting school.
When it came time to launch the book series in June 2018, I thought I’d tackle things a little differently.
How else could I introduce the series besides throwing a big party?
A book tour travelling around Australia, covering over 20,000km while living in a camper trailer — the goal was to spread awareness for the need of these positive transitioning resources.
Meeting with schools, the media, and various educational departments… pretty much anyone along the way interested in improving the wellbeing of youth!
The launch was a great success, resulting not only in thousands of copies being sold but more importantly thousands of people learning of these resources to support youth transitions.
In early January 2019, I moved to New York City to launch the positive education series in the USA. A whole new can of worms now awaits for me to tackle here.
While I have no doubt there is much more to learn, here are my 3 quick tips for any aspiring author today:
1. Write because you wish it were something you had to read.
2. Things take time and momentum can come from the most unlikely places.
3. Hold hope, that others, even if just one, will hear you.
Then go out there and share your message with the world.
Amba Brown’s Finding Your Path Books are available from:
About the Author, Amba Brown
Amba is an Australian Positive Psychology Author, who holds a degree in psychology & sociology, with Honours in Positive Psychology.
Originally from Sydney, Australia, she has also lived in Asia and now resides in America. Being the eldest of six siblings, Amba is passionate about alleviating youth anxieties. This passion resulted in the creation of The ‘Finding Your Path’ book series, to support and inspire youth through their major life transitions; starting school, starting high school and finishing school.
Watch Amba’s TEDx Talk created to support students today on ‘How to Find a Happy Path After School’: