June 29, 2012

Self-Publishing Mini-Series - Meet Patrick Milne

Today I'm delighted to introduce you to the third guest in our self-publishing mini-series, Patrick Milne.

By way of introduction, Patrick says, "I always enjoyed writing stories as far back as I can remember, though by the time I hit high school, I'd lost interest. It wasn't until I took a writing course in university as an elective that I really started taking any creative impulses seriously again and eventually majored in professional writing and communications. It was chiefly short prose that I studied throughout school and it wasn't until my sister, Stephanie Faye, embraced her animation talents that we decided to try a children's picture book together."

SLH:  Did you try the traditional publishing route?  What was your experience?

PM:  We didn't really even think of the traditional publishing route initially. We just tried to get the story together as much as possible in a 32-page structure, which was difficult because it was the first time we'd done anything so short. It was definitely an exercise in brevity! During the process, it seemed any time we brought up the idea of a publisher and looked around at their respective websites, or researched agents, either they weren't accepting manuscripts or you had to jump through hoops to get it to them. We continued working away until the story took shape and by then, we both really loved it and couldn't have fathomed changing anything about it. 

SLH:  What made you decide to pursue self-publishing?

PM:  Once we got our hard copy proof copy back from the printer, Stephanie, the book's artist, took it to a small publisher's fair in Vancouver. She got interest from several companies but each had their own list of changes they wanted to make. By that point, we'd been working on the book for so long, Stephanie especially with all of the art and coloring, that thinking about incorporating their changes was just too overwhelming. At that point, we officially decided to move ahead on our own.  

SLH:  How did you go about self-publishing?

PM:  We found a small printing company in Winnipeg, Manitoba called Art Book Bindery that had a great reputation. We knew we wanted to do at least a small run of print copies so we worked with them. The electronic version was formatted and uploaded to Amazon several months later.

SLH:  Did you hire an editor?

PM:  No, I've had several jobs as a copy editor in the past so I was very confident in my own abilities. We also passed it around to some family and friends to make sure everything was coherent and had a nice flow and rhythm to it, but the words, sentences, and grammar I was very possessive about. Outside opinions were really key for us because when you work on the same story and the same sentences, you can miss little things

SLH:  How did you choose your illustrator?  What kind of contract do you have with her?  Did you have a lot of back and forth contact with her as she created the illustrations?

PM:  My illustrator was my sister, Stephanie Faye, who is a graduate of Capilano University in British Columbia and had been working in children's television and animation for several years previous. We sent the manuscript back and forth over email and had conversations over Skype about it. Once she began the illustrations, she sent her drafts to me through email and we discussed them every few days. It was a very collaborative effort for being so far apart.

SLH:  How did you get your book from conception to e-book format?  Is it also available in hardcover or paperback?  Print on demand?

PM:  We currently sell the print version through our website and at various local craft sales around Christmas time and it does quite well. The ebook version, Stephanie formatted from her finished files and they were formatted in a .mobi file for the Kindle and uploaded to Amazon. We're working on getting it into different places on the web to broaden Lucy's availability but as of right now, those are the primary outlets.

SLH:  How have you gone about marketing your book?  What has been most successful?

PM:  Selling the print copies at various fairs has been the most successful approach for the print version. The electronic version has been totally different. There are thousands of ways of going about marketing our book, the only problem is where to start. We currently use Twitter and Facebook and I've started a blog called So Much To Be Read to help build a community and get the word out on other children's authors and illustrators just like me who are self-published. There is so much more to do and I feel like all we have to do is just start!

SLH:  Do you do school/library visits?  How has that worked with an e-book?  How have sales been in relation to the visits?

PM:  We did a seminar with a local grade seven English class that was doing a unit on writing their own picture book and sold many of the print copies there but no e-book versions that I know of. It's something we'd certainly like to keep doing.

Patrick's office
SLH:  What advice would you give other authors who are thinking about self-publishing?

PM:  I think the single most important thing to understand is that finishing the book is only a small part of what self-publishing is all about. Depending on your hopes for the book and what it might become, all the rest is marketing - thinking about who your audience is and where to find them and how to get the word out about your book without coming across as a desperate spammer! On the one hand, it's a very frustrating process, but on the other, you're only as limited as your imagination. Furthermore, there has never been a time in history when reaching people has been as simple as this. We get a lot of motivation and inspiration from keeping that in our mindset.

SLH:  Any particular pitfalls to avoid?

PM:  Trust your instincts and stay true to what your book is all about and why you wanted to write it in the first place. If we had decided to incorporate the changes suggested to us by the various publishers, I don't think I would feel quite as passionately about Lucy Snigglefritz as I do now, or as proud. If it set us back from getting a publishing contract, so be it. I don't see any evidence these days that working with a publisher is any less challenging than the self-publishing route.

Thank you so much, Patrick!  It is so interesting to hear from different authors who have chosen this route.  We all have a lot to learn from you.

Folks, please feel free to visit Patrick on his Website, follow him on Twitter @fayemousbooks, or network with him on LinkedIn.  Patrick has kindly offered to be available for questions, so please ask if you have any!  In addition, he is giving away a free e-copy of The Adventures Of Lucy Snigglefritz - I have seen it and it's very cute even on my black and white Kindle! - so if you're interested in qualifying, please leave a comment saying why you'd like to have the book!

Thank you all for joining us!  Have a great weekend!


  1. I enjoyed the interview. Thanks for sharing your journey and for the advice.

  2. Wonderful interview and so much truth to what was mentioned. Especially the need to understand that self-publish isn't just typing the story and simply The End. There are various other facets to consider and pursue in making the self-publication as successful as possible. By the way, I love that book cover!!!

  3. Thank you Patrick (I have a kid named Patrick, we call him Paddy) and Susanna. The cover of your book is precious. It looks like your sister is a fantastic illustrator. Your office is SWEET! I've wondered something. I know self-publishing has got to be even more challenging than traditional publishing. And it has got to be a lot of work! But you DO have artistic control all the way through. Nice. Any regrets????

    I'll visit your place. Lovely to meet you. Good luck with Lucy. She looks AWESOME! :-)

  4. great interview! I love hearing the hows and whys of self-publishing. Congrats Patrick and your book sounds fun and how awesome is that you got your sister to do the illustrations!!! I think that makes the book even more precious! I just wish I had an e-reader to be able to participate in the giveaway! :)

  5. Susanna...this self-publishing series has been amazing! Patrick, thank you so much for sharing your can be very rewarding to "do-it-yourself" and I love that your sister is your illustrator (as my daughter-in-law is mine). I'll be over to visit your website..and would LOVE to win the copy of your book...I have 3 grandvhildren who would love it and I would share it with the kids during my school visits. :)

  6. It's interesting to see why people choose self-publishing. I don't think it would be for me, but I wish you all the best with your book, Patrick. (I have no e-reader, so no point in putting me in the draw.)

  7. The book looks really cute! I will ask my Mom to get it! I really like the interview. I learned a lot from it.
    Erik :)

  8. It is a very cute book, Erik. I have had the privilege of reading it already. The story is fun and the art is great even in black and white (which is how i saw it.)

  9. Another great interview in your self-publishing series, Susanna!

    Patrick, thank you for taking the time to tell us more about self-publishing. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "I think the single most important thing to understand is that finishing the book is only a small part of what self-publishing is all about." I would think the marketing would be so important. You mentioned several points to think about when marketing. From what I have learned in reading about self-publishing, you painted a very clear picture that you'd better love your project and be ready to persevere just as in traditional publishing.

  10. Hi everyone,

    Thank you to Susanna for featuring my interview here and thank you all for taking the time to read it and post a few comments. I believe Robyn has a question...any regrets? Not at all. I'm ecstatic with how Lucy 1 turned out and now that Lucy 2 is on the way, I'm even more thrilled. I wish I had more time to devote each day to spreading the word about Lucy but I'm learning as I go. Blogs like Susanna's are really the most helpful thing to introduce ourselves to readers and she deserves so much credit for taking the time to build an incredible site like this.

  11. You're being too nice Patrick :) but I'm so glad it f this is helpful to you! Thank YOU so much for participating in our mini-series and for checking in to answer questions!

  12. So glad you enjoyed Patrick's post, Penny. And I think you're right about needing to love your book - no matter how you end up publishing it!

  13. I admire people who go this route - it's not easy! I think the biggest draw is having complete artistic control over your book - that would be really fun! But to me the drawbacks would be marketing and distribution and over-coming the stigma that still hovers over self-publishing - it's tough to push past the prejudice some people have toward it and that makes marketing even harder.

  14. I'm so glad you're enjoying it, Vivian. You have all been wonderful about sharing your journeys and offering insight and helpful advice to people who might be considering going this route. It's neat, also, how different everyone's books are - in age/genre, available format, how you chose your illustrators etc.

  15. Glad you enjoyed it, Saba. I've got to heck with Patrick - maybe you can get it by PDF.... :)

  16. There is a lot of confident energy in this interview! I think that has to be one of the main drivers of self-publishing. To have so much faith in your product that you do not allow it to be at the mercy of anyone is something we all needed to hear. Patrick, I wish you and your sister much success. Susanna, thank you for this post.

  17. Glad you enjoyed the interview, Pam. I think you'll like Rita's too (the one that's up today - Monday)


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