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  • Writer's pictureHelen Colebrook

Becoming an Author

I've been asked lots of questions about how I became a published author, so I thought I would dedicate a blog post to sharing my journey. I will cover everything from when I first started posting my journal pages online, right up to securing a deal with my publishers.

Journal With Purpose Book
Book Cover

The Beginning

I have always loved keeping written records of my life, but I didn’t start doing this on a daily basis until 2016. I opened an Instagram account and was so inspired by people sharing their journal pages online, that this definitely helped take my enthusiasm to the next level and encouraged me to share my own pages.

I initially found it easy to journal when I went on exciting trips or days out, but journaling about every day life was more of a challenge. Now it has become something I do every evening, I would be completely lost without it.

I document things I am grateful for, the change in seasons, new hobbies, funny conversations, work projects, big goals and family life.

My journal is also a great place to get creative and relax my mind. For me, it is the perfect way to switch off from a busy day, away from all the digital distractions.

Bullet Journal Dutch Door
Dutch Door Pages

Social Media

I am now lucky enough to have over 68K followers on Instagram, along with a YouTube channel and this blog where I share my love of creative journaling, tips and techniques.

Sharing my journal pages online started purely as a way to be able to post about my hobby and find other like-minded people.

However, it is fair to say, that the opportunity of publishing a book, wouldn't have been possible without my lovely followers on social media.

Stationery Doodles
Stationery Doodles

Finding an Agent

In April 2018 I started thinking about the prospect of creating a book related to journaling. It was just a vague thought at that time, but one Sunday afternoon I decided to do a little research.

I quickly realised that very few publishers were taking direct submissions, so the first step would be to try and find an appropriate literary agent who would be interested in representing me. I made a note of a few that looked interesting.

I found Graham Maw Christie online and then followed their Instagram account. Later that same afternoon I received a message from them, asking if I was interested in writing a book! I couldn’t believe it and I must admit, I was a bit sceptical. Anything that seems too good to be true, very often is. So, I did some more research into the agents, which reassured me, and they arranged a call with me the following week. Fortunately for me, they were absolutely lovely and very supportive.

Arrow Doodles
Arrow Doodles

Preparing a Book Proposal

The agents guided me through the process of putting together a book proposal, which took a couple of months in total. There were lots of revisions and they wanted to make sure that I also included any details of where I had been featured in other books, the media and podcasts.

Once they were happy with the quality of the proposal, they agreed to sign me as client. It was a very exciting, but nerve-wracking time.

Travelers Notebook
Travelers Notebook

Finding a Publisher

After this, my agent submitted my proposal to lots of publishers and I awaited their responses.

I received plenty of rejections. I had been warned to expect this, but it didn’t make the process any more fun!

However, I was encouraged by the lovely feedback that I was receiving alongside the "no thank you" responses.

Then finally, whilst I was on holiday in August 2018, I received an email from my agent to say that a publisher was interested!

Plant Pot Doodles
Plant Pot Doodles

Meeting with the Publishers

I met with the Publisher (David & Charles Ltd) shortly after my return and we had a great conversation about their vision for the book, which I was really excited about. They felt like a perfect fit for me.

This left me with lots of work to do on revising the proposal and drafting some of the designs. Luckily they were happy with my final proposal and signed me up as an author in September 2018. I still can’t believe it.

House Doodles
House Doodles

Working on the Book

Over the next 5 months I worked nearly every evening and weekend to get all of my hand-drawn designs completed.

My daughter wrote out a timetable on a whiteboard which was kept in the lounge. She definitely helped to keep me on track and my family were very supportive.

It was a huge amount of work and not easy to fit in alongside my day job, but I was determined to meet the deadline and also enjoy the whole process.

I drove to the publishers and handed over my designs in February 2019. I could have posted them, but there was no way I wanted to risk losing any of my work at that stage!

Behind the Scenes

We had lots of meetings and photo shoots along the way, to get everything ready for the completed book.

The whole experience has been a wonderful and unexpected whirlwind, and an opportunity that I am incredibly grateful for.

I have released a YouTube video sharing lots of footage from behind the scenes, which you can watch here.

The Finished Book

I'm so excited to share a flip through of the finished book.

I also wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already purchased it and shared photos over on Instagram.

I have been absolutely over-whelmed by all the support and kindness that I have received.

Where Can you Buy it?

You can find my book in the following places:

In my shop here

On Amazon here (Available now in most of Europe and scheduled for release by the end of November for most other countries)

At Cult Pens here

Under the Rowan Trees here

Finally, I'm going to ask for a little help. If you have decided to buy my book, I would appreciate it so much if you would be kind enough to leave me a review on Amazon. You can leave a review on Amazon once it has been released in your country, even if you bought it from somewhere else.

Thank you so much. I really hope you've found it interesting to read about my journey on the path to becoming an author.

Happy journaling, Helen x

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