While working in the nursing home, I had become very concerned about the number of misconceptions held by the general public regarding dementia. I had been one of those people myself before my training. I felt I needed to do something more, something that would help people to understand.
So I wrote a book; I wanted to create something that would be easy to read, not preachy; would bring greater awareness of the disease; that would help people such as residents’ family members and carers to empathise with the sufferer, and to affirm with the carers that it was normal to be angry and impatient.
I spent a lot of time researching and studying, learning as much as I could about the diseases causing dementia. When I completed my manuscript I sent it off to a publishing company that seemed to publish books of a similar genre. After three months, I received a letter from them, saying they loved my story, but weren’t publishing that type of book currently. However, I should try ‘xyz’.
Feeling optimistic, I sent the manuscript off to ‘xyz’ and waited. Three months later I received an almost identical rejection, with the suggestion I might try publishers ‘ijk’.
Too much time was being wasted. I wanted to get the book out there. I knew it was never going to be the Great Australian Novel. It was written with no literary training, no thought of structure or narrative view, but it was written from the heart.
I investigated the self-publishing route, feeling this was an admission of failure. Was it just an ego trip to have a published book? I sent the manuscript off to the first indie publisher on my list. They replied with a quote for thousands of dollars. After wiping away my tears, I tried the second publisher. They would publish free of charge providing the book would fit into a specific size. It didn’t.
The third company offered a partnership publishing deal, whereby, if they thought the manuscript had some value, they would offer to print off 20 galley copies for a fee considerably lower than the first quotation. They would retain 10 copies, which would be sent to reputable reviewers, and the author should try to obtain reviews with the other ten copies.
I didn’t know any reviewers, celebrities or people whose comments would add value, so I gave the books away to friends and family members.
Eventually we ended up with 1,000 print copies of the book, 10 boxes of which were stacked in our garage. But the easy part was over. Now I had to become a marketer.
Local libraries were very accommodating, and the wonderful Eltham bookshop assisted, but after that, it was up to me. I created many diversions that prevented me from picking up the phone. My house had never been so clean.
Then I had a stroke of luck. The General Manager of a local nursing home read the book and passed it on to her superior, who ordered multiple copies for distribution throughout all their nursing homes. This gave me the confidence to approach other care facilities.
Eventually I sold enough copies to cover my initial investment and to make a donation to Alzheimer’s Australia, so part of my goal had been achieved.
Writing that little story aroused in me the desire to write more. But what would I write about next?