Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
Hello my name is Nicola Rowley and I live in a lovely leafy village in the Surrey countryside with my husband Matt and our gorgeous two year-old son. James was born in August 2014 and when he arrived, he literally turned my world upside down and inside out. It was definitely all for the best.
What do you do?
My business is my name – Nicola J Rowley, as I’m a children’s author.
Can you describe it in one sentence?
I am a happiness author and the best way to describe what I do is to say that I write books for children to help inspire their love of reading and the written word.
When did you become a writer and what inspired you?
I’d been meaning to write a book for as long as I can remember but somehow it was never the right time. Then when I was on maternity leave, instead of writing the book I thought I would for adults, I was inspired by my son to write the story of James and the Amazing Gift. We’d taken him swimming when he was about four months-old and as I was changing him after the lesson, he reached out to a little girl who was upset, stopped her from crying, and made her smile. It was so special and made me think “what if there was a boy who smiled at everyone and everything to help make everyone else happy?” It is thanks to James that I have finally realised my life-long dream to write a book.
How did you fund your start up?
I had some savings, which I used to fund the self-publication process.
How do you manage working around your children?
James is at nursery as I am also working full time as well as juggling a successful photography business. When I do get to spend a whole day with him, then I just maximise nap times. I also get up each day much earlier than I need to, to ensure that I have planned out each day’s activity so that I know what needs to be done. It helps me have a clearer strategy in place.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
I get up each morning at 5am and make sure I start the day with some visualisation, journaling and exercise. Then I leave the house by 6:30am to catch the train to work to arrive for 8am. During my journey I ensure I maximise my time by reading (mainly business books) so that I learn as much as I can. I also scan social media channels to ensure I’m as up to speed as I can be. During my lunch hour I spend my time writing or researching pitches or coming up with new ideas for stories and books. Then I leave work at 4pm – and whilst heading home, I read whichever book I have on the go and I collect James from nursery. Then for the next three hours it’s our time together, which is spent playing, reading, and having cuddles, before bedtime. After this, I tend to start work all over again, writing blog posts, responding to emails and actioning anything that needs to be done, before heading to bed at around 11pm.
What challenges have you faced in your writing and how have you overcome them?
I only self-published my debut children’s book at the tail end of October 2016, so it’s still early days for me. I think what has been interesting is the level of support that I’ve received. I’ve heard from people I’d previously lost touch with, who are now out there being my champions and fans. I’m incredibly grateful to each and every one of them. There is still a lot of snobbery around self-publishing, and in the beginning when I was approaching book shops about stocking James and the Amazing Gift, it was interesting to see the reaction I would get. In such a short space of time, having become a blogger on The Huffington Post, been featured in Woman and Home magazine and other high profile outlets, it’s amazing to see how book shops are now asking me if they can stock the book as they realise how popular it is, both with children and parents.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
For me, it’s all about being able to create something tangible that people can treasure and that I can feel proud of. It’s also incredibly special and rewarding when children tell me how much they love the character of James as he makes them smile. Spreading happiness is a real gift, and is incredibly rewarding. I’d also love to be able to spend additional time with my son, and I know that this amazing journey will enable me to do just that.
What are your plans for the future?
I am really excited to announce that I have just finished the second James and the… story. It still needs editing, but it’s a big milestone and I’m really looking forward to publishing the story. Naturally it maintains its positive, happy theme. After all I am a ‘Happiness Author’ so you would expect this to be the case.
What advice would you give for someone just starting?
Have a plan. Know what your goals are and map them out. All goals – big, medium and small are equally important. Know how many fans you want to reach on social media, which publications are going to be key for you to reach, and work out a strategy for how you will get where you need to be. Always make everything time dependant so that you have something to achieve by a certain date. It really helps in terms of focus. For instance, at the very start of this whole process, I said that I would finish work full time by 22nd April 2017. I literally plucked the date out of the blue as it’s my birthday. I made myself accountable by posting the date in a lovely supportive Facebook group. I applied for several jobs, but I ended up working where I do. It made me smile when the contract came through saying it ended on 21st April 2017.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Believe in yourself. You can achieve anything you set your mind to. While the journey might not be quite what you imagined, it will be amazing nonetheless. Oh and smile a lot. It’s amazing the effect that a small act of kindness, such as a smile can have.
James and the Amazing Gift can be purchased at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2hNb2dS and all major book shops.
For every copy sold, £1 is being donated to the UK charity Contact the Elderly.