Last week I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Colette Warbrook who has recently published her own book.
I last caught up with Colette when she joined a workshop I ran in 2017, so it was fantastic to sit together last week and hear of the successes she has had. Her copywriting business, The Writing Hub (part of Warbrook Creative), has gone from strength to strength and she has just fulfilled a lifelong dream by launching her very first children’s book – Help! I’ve Lost My Llama.
If you haven’t met Colette before, she is one of the nicest ladies I have the pleasure of knowing and it’s great to see her succeeding in an industry that she is really passionate about.
Here’s what she had to say when I caught up with her.
Tell the readers a little about yourself…
I’m an enthusiastic learner who devours books, blogs, magazine articles, videos and podcasts about writing, marketing, selling and all sorts. Fiction books are a big pleasure, too. I can spend hours in bookshops and libraries.
I live in Nantwich, Cheshire, with my husband Simon, our nine-year-old son Ewan and our adventurous rescue cat, Olaf. I originally come from Somerset and miss living near the sea (although I love where I live now too).
My working background is in newspaper journalism. I’ve worked as a news and features writer at regional and local newspapers around the UK, including The Sentinel in Stoke-on-Trent.
As a family we enjoy being outdoors, walking, cycling and travelling around in our campervan. But we also adore cosy movie nights with popcorn and chocolate, and visiting museums (particularly ones with hands-on stuff). Just before Christmas we visited Santa in Lapland and did some skiing. This was one of the most magical experiences of our lives – but we’re sure there’s plenty more magic to come.
When did you launch and what were you most excited about?
I began working part-time as a freelance writer in April 2013 and went full-time in March 2018.
I came up with the idea of launching my own copywriting, journalism and proofreading business through my husband, Simon (the other half of Warbrook Creative), who is a web and graphic designer. I started doing copywriting because one of his clients needed help with their website content.
What I was most excited about was managing my own work and hours, and waving goodbye to commuting. I was also eager to do something different, meet new people, learn new skills and challenge myself. Working from home also means I can spend more time with my family.
What research did you do before you launched?
I found out about other copywriters in the area and made contact with them. I also spoke to former newspaper colleagues who had already gone freelance about their experiences.
With my children’s book, Help! I’ve Lost My Llama, I researched the picture book market by browsing in bookshops and borrowing books from Nantwich Library to read to my son. I also volunteered as a reader at the library’s regular story-time sessions to find out the types of stories children and parents enjoyed. I also read articles about children’s books, but one of the most significant parts of my research was through the creative writing group at the library. I shared my stories with the group’s members and they gave me useful feedback.
Who supported you along the way?
With my copywriting, Simon was a big support, encouraging me and putting me in touch with some of his contacts. You (Fiona) also gave me advice, and family and friends also had my back – and still do!
With my book, again family and friends have been a huge support, but special mention must go to Ewan, who kept asking me when the book would be ready! And, of course, everyone at Nantwich Library, along with Mark Wilcox, who provided fantastic illustrations and lots of guidance about self-publishing.
What was it like launching your first book?
It had long been my dream to write a book and get it printed, so it was very exciting when it finally happened. My illustrator, Mark (known as ‘Wilf’), had already self-published books of his own, so he guided me through the whole process.
I published Help! I’ve Lost My Llama in August 2018 on CreateSpace, a self-publishing service owned by Amazon. Since then CreateSpace has been replaced by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This service allows you to self-publish eBooks and paperbacks for free and to sell them on Amazon. I prefer KDP because the author copies of my book are printed and shipped from within Europe, whereas with CreateSpace they came from the U.S. The delivery charges are therefore much cheaper now – and the shipping a lot faster.
Before completing my book, I spent time working with Mark as he created the illustrations, which was fascinating to watch. We worked closely to make sure the text and images complemented each other.
For the book, my inspiration came from various places, including being around my son and learning about his interests – basically seeing the world through a child’s eyes.
Did you enjoy the process? What did you enjoy most?
It’s a cliché, but it’s been a big learning curve. However, I’ve enjoyed the ride! The whole process has boosted my confidence and has shown that even if I’m scared of doing something, I should go out and do it because the rewards are worth it.
What are your plans for the future?
To continue working for my existing copywriting clients and to gain new ones. And to publish another children’s book, maybe even find an agent and publisher willing to take me on. Plus, I’d love to sell more copies of Help! I’ve Lost My Llama – and to get more reviews on Amazon!
Can you share 3 books or people that you follow which can help others succeed?
Stephen King’s On Writing is fascinating and inspirational. I love his straight talking and sense of humour. Another enlightening read is To Sell is Human by Daniel H Pink. And if you’re a copywriter, the Professional Copywriters’ Network are pretty awesome (you can find them online).
How do you blow off steam? If things get stressful, what do you do to relax?
I try to resist scrolling through social media. A much better remedy is a walk, bike ride, bath, swim or to settle down with an escapist read, probably a thriller.
What tip can you give others who are in the same position as you?
Get advice from other freelancers. Don’t think of other business folk as competition (even if they’re in the same field as you) because you can learn from and support each other, maybe even pass work each other’s way. This was something that took me a while to grasp – but I have now.
Any tips to people launching a book? Anything you would do different that you would share?
I can only speak from my experience of self-publishing, but a big thing I’ve learnt is to not underestimate how much of your time you need to put in to publicising your book. It’s down to you to market your book. However, there are people out there who run businesses that support self-published authors in getting their book noticed. If I self-published again, I’d put a publicity plan in place before I went to print, thinking about where I could sell my book and who it would be of interest to.
What legacy would you like to leave?
I want to leave behind some cracking children’s books and for my son to continue to be the enthusiastic, curious and caring person he already is.
Thank you Colette for helping other people who may be in the same situation as you understand your journey and how they too can succeed. If you would like to know more about Colette and purchase her fantastic book, please click on the links below (she’d also welcome reviews of Help! I’ve Lost My Llama on Amazon):
If you are local to Nantwich and would like a signed copy of Colette’s book dropped to your very door then please give her a call and she will gladly arrange: 07790 008536.