Diary of a Mummy Misfit
Amanda Egan has something I want – something that many of us bloggers want: published books. She’s the brilliantly successful author of Mummy Misfit and The Darker Side of Mummy Misfit.
Many of us bloggers think we ‘got a book in us’, but Amanda has done it. Here, she has kindly agreed to share her wisdom…
You’re a Misfit Mummy. Explain yourself? (personal description of you – family, what you did before becoming a writer)
Oh boy! OK a Mummy Misfit is any mum who, at any point, feels like she doesn’t belong – for whatever reason. In my case it was because we chose to send our son to private school when it was clearly going to be a struggle. We weren’t the typical demographic, sacrificed ALL holidays and luxuries and I didn’t have a designer handbag to my name.
As for me, I’m a 48 year old mum to one son of 16. We wanted more but it never happened – that’s another story. I trained professionally as an actress but then realised it doesn’t pay the bills so I went on to work as a dental nurse and then as a receptionist for a finance company where I fell in love with my boss and married him! We’re still together, 22 years later. I taught adult literacy for a few years, which I found hugely rewarding, but the constant closure of classes drove me mad. I currently run a dog-minding agency from home and combine it with writing and caring for my elderly mother who lives independently but close by.
Amanda with her son when he was a baby
Tell us about your books. Go on, plug away. What are they and what are they about?
Diary of a Mummy Misfit and The Darker Side of Mummy Misfit tell the story of Libby and Ned Marchant who choose to send their son to a private prep-school. Sound familiar?! I basically took my experiences, and the way I was made to feel by the affluent mothers, and exaggerated them into a work of fiction. The books are bitchy, humorous reads which take a look at the ‘haves and the have-nots’. I’ve been told they are like a grown up Bridget Jones.
The Darker Side of Mummy Misfit
When/how did you first decide there was a book in you?
I think I may have been born with a book in me. I’ve always written, for as long as I can remember, and I loved being given ‘compositions’ to do at school. I have a drawer full of unfinished novels from my past (even a very pathetic attempt at a Mills & Boon romance!) but the turning point came when my son developed school phobia at the age of 11. I had to remain at the school (outside the classroom or in the car park) for three years to see him through his condition. As you can imagine, I needed to keep myself entertained so I spent every day, from 8.30 until 4 reading. In some ways it was heaven, just to totally immerse myself into a plot but it was also a tough few years for us as a family. One day I had the seed of an idea for my first book and it was written within 3 months in my car in the school car park on a borrowed laptop. The final edits took months as did its journey to publication.
The blogosphere is full of brilliant writers, some professionals, most not. What tips do you have if any of us want to write a book?
My top tip would be ‘just do it’. Stop talking about it, stop planning, stop saying you’ll do it when you’ve got time. Just get on and do it. And try to write every day, even if it’s a few lines or reading over what you’ve written the day before and editing. Also, for me, I can’t over-plan. If I know exactly where the book is going I get bored and give up on it. I like to have my characters surprise me. I know that this doesn’t work for all writers but I like to have my characters fully ready to hit the stage with a rough outline of how they’re going to get from A to B and then see where they take me.
I’ve written three novels, none of them published. I tried to get an agent but with no success. Aside from the fact they just might not be good enough, what advice would you give to wannabe authors like myself?
I gave up on the traditional route when I was let down badly by an agent after coming very close to publication. I think with the advent of eBooks, the world of publishing is changing and it’s very exciting for debut writers. My advice would be, if you’ve really polished your work and asked several people to read it and give feedback, publish as an eBook on Amazon and promote like hell. What have you got to lose? Then if lots of people show interest in the book as a paperback, go to a company like Lulu and upload your book as a Print on Demand publication. You don’t pay anything for the service (OK you don’t earn a whole heap either) but it gets your book reaching a wider audience. Oh, and always make sure you have a great cover! I LOVE my covers and my readers seem to as well.
How did you get published (describe process)?
I guess I kind of covered that in the question above (really should learn to read ahead!!) My agent had received ‘unprecedented praise for a first novel’, but I was asked to make some changes – word culls, an additional character etc – and once they were done we waited. My agent waited for so long, the two publishing houses who had shown interest had in the meantime decided against taking on new talent. One because they’d signed someone too similar and the other because they weren’t taking risks in the current financial climate. I sulked, sacked the agent and then decided to go Indie – I’ve never looked back.
What’s your writing methodology – where, when, for how long do you write?
I write Monday to Friday from 9 – 4 and occasionally, for very short bursts, at the weekends. I work in my upstairs sitting room or at my kitchen table. I usually have a rough idea of what I’ll be writing on a particular day but if things go really badly I go on Twitter and moan to other writer friends. You need never be lonely as a writer now.
Is there any money in it?
Now that’s a tricky one. As an Indie, it’s all down to the amount of work you’re prepared to put in. And it’s a LOT of work. Nobody is selling your books for you, except you and your readers. They say it’s a slow build and I can see why. The world doesn’t know who you are when you launch that first book and it’s up to you to spread the word. Yes, there’s money in it but I won’t be retiring just yet!
Could you recommend any websites or books for wannabe authors?
I don’t read books about writing anymore. I used to, but I just found that they confused me and made me feel like I should be writing in the way that someone else wanted me to. I now write in my style, following my own rules and my heart. As a writer, you need to be reading novels constantly and get to know your genre and your audience – I think that’s far more constructive than reading ‘how to’ books. As for websites, I love Michelle Betham’s blog LINK. Another Indie who is open and honest, wears her heart on her sleeve and tells it as it really is.
And finally…what’s your favourite cheese?
Favourite cheese is the very stinky and yummy Pié d’Angloys. I like it left out of the fridge for a good few hours before ‘nomming’ – it’s gooey, sticky and a bit brussel sprouty!!
Amanda’s books can be bought on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu. She blogs at Mummy Misfit LINK