Lisa Fleetwood on self-publishing and dachshunds

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When writer, blogger and traveller Lisa Fleetwood’s family lost their dog, it led to her to self-publishing her first book – Destination Dachshund: Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds – a travel memoir that reached ‘bestseller’ status on Amazon. So today we’ve sat Lisa in an ornate wooden chair with the view to discussing her book and the process of self publishing…

So Lisa, for readers not familiar with the book, can you tell us what it’s about?
“Through the wonder of travel Destination Dachshund explores the bond of family and the grieving of loved ones, both human and hound, and the extraordinary effect they have on our lives. It offers a unique twist on the travel memoir with an often hilarious dachshund-spotting competition at the heart of one family’s journey through Turkey, Russia, Europe and the USA.”

We’re guessing that one family is yours?
“My family and I left for the trip just days after the tragic loss of our beloved dachshund, Coco. Ultimately my memoir is about moving through grief while on the trip of a lifetime; the love of family and our beloved pets, and the wonder of exploring the world for three months in a capacity that I know will never happen again – with three generations.”

Did you know you would turn your travels into a book straight away? Or did the idea evolve over time?
“The idea of a book formed early – actually on the holiday – and in fact I wrote a travel blog for friends and family at home. Without this diary, there would be no book so there is a lot to say about journaling for storytelling there…  but the whole story evolved over time as the writing of the book came two years after the holiday.

It certainly sounds like all the ingredients were there…
“I’d experienced a journey of love, the loss of a beloved pet, and adventure for three months with three generations – and writing that story was something that wouldn’t go away. But my first attempts to write it as children’s fiction and then adult fiction didn’t work. Once I went back to my diaries and explored writing the story from my perspective, as a memoir, it all came together.”

So let’s talk about your choice to self-publish the book. Why this option?
“I decided to self-publish Destination Dachshund as I felt stationary; stuck in a place where I felt I was never going to be an author, never going to be able to move forward with my writing, my career, or my creative purpose unless I made it happen myself. I felt stifled by the industry I was desperate to be a part of. I’ve been writing for years and have the usual pile of rejections that most writers have. This book was very special to me – I could have done the rounds of submitting to traditional publishers, but I didn’t want to – not with this story.

“Also, it is now easier than ever for indie authors to self-publish and distribute their books to thousands of retailers around the world. And to have my book available at online book stores such as Booktopia, Readings, and Better Read Than Dead (to name a few) and worldwide distributors like Book Depository makes the process of self-publishing a great option. My local bookstore, Dymocks Penrith, also stocks Destination Dachshund and have been very supportive.“

What would you say are the benefits to self-publishing?
”For a start, prior to self-publishing I was not an author and now I am. This has been my dream for longer than I can remember, so it’s pretty nice and I feel very empowered knowing that I made it happen. It has boosted my creativity and confidence in myself as a person and a writer. It has also led to other opportunities that I otherwise would not have had.

“I also retain all rights, have complete control of the creative process from start to finish. I know how much I am earning at all times, I control the pricing, the launch date, and recruited my own hand-picked team of professionals (editor, cover artist etc.) to support me.

“Self-publishing is not for everyone – it’s a big step but there is one fact that cannot be ignored. You choose. No one is deciding your fate as a writer. And when you choose, you are creating opportunities for yourself.”

That’s a great point. So, what were YOUR strategies to making it a bestseller?
“My book launch team of about 100 dedicated family, friends and writers were the backbone of my launch and contributed to the bestseller status of the ebook version of Destination Dachshund in the categories of ‘Family Travel’, ‘Western Europe Travel’ and ‘Travel With Pets’ on Amazon. The book launch team were my cheer squad, advanced readers, marketers, and allies as I went through the process of launching. We also had a dachshund spotting competition throughout the whole launch. Cheers to them! I also chose my categories and keywords on Amazon wisely and had a targeted advertising campaign for my ebook launch. I also priced the book very strategically which helped capture thousands of downloads of the ebook in the early weeks of the launch. This pushed the book up through the sales rankings until it reached the bestseller status.”

Thanks for those tips! So, now that you’re an author – what’s next for you?
“I am currently writing a non-fiction self-help book on self-publishing to assist other writers to follow their dreams of becoming an author. It will include step-by-step guides on how to publish an ebook.”

A great idea – and from personal experience too.
“Storytelling is an important part of our society and I honestly feel that sometimes the difficulty in becoming traditionally published is stifling the creativity of many talented writers. Self-publishing Destination Dachshund was the best decision for me and I’d love to be able to help others do the same.

“After that is another non-fiction travel book, edits on my epic children’s fantasy trilogy, Illuminations, and I’ve also established my own small press, Bookends Publishing, where I plan to create opportunities for new, emerging and established writers in the form of annual anthologies and writing competitions.”

Wow – that spark has not just been lit, it’s exploded. Well done Lisa, and good luck with everything on the horizon!

Check out Lisa’s website for more information on her book and other writing.

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