It Takes a Village to Raise a Book

Welcome to my new site. I'm now an author, a columnist for a national magazine, and a professional blogger. T'was not always so. Here's the story:

Back in 2008 - health in tatters, battered by the economy, and on the verge of losing all income - I looked at the first draft of the manuscript for Palaces & Calluses and sighed. How would I get it into the world, and would the food budget last long enough for me to survive until I did so? I yearned for the lofty heights of the coffee-shop poverty of J K Rowling, as I struggled to afford tea bags or food.

Struggling Writer

We'd just moved to a new - rented - house. Well ... new to us. It's a very old, Cotswold stone cottage looking out over fields. It had no carpets or curtains but, in time, it had broadband. I fired up the laptop I'd bought in easier times, and saw a writer blogging about writing. She wrote for a magazine and was blogging about the publishing process. I noticed a '' after her name. When I googled, 'blogspot', Blogger appeared, along with information about setting up a free blog. Free. Sounded good. I typed in my details, decided to call my blog From Brain to Bookshelf, and began to plot the story of my journey, navigating the choppy waters of the publishing world. Many of the people I first met in those early days are dear friends now.

After a while, I set up a Twitter account and - long story, short - I'm now one of the most influential women on Twitter in the world. Through the people I met online, who supported my progress (the Word Nerd Army), agents and publishers began to notice me. 

By that time I'd had a bit of a moment, from which I haven't yet recovered. My husband, in his usual down-to-earth way, looked across at me when I was prattling about how important the publishing industry was one day, and said: 'they are a distribution network'. Somehow, that one line sobered me up. I sat down and de-constructed what agents and publishers do. It was an eye-opener. Then I made a mental list of all the parts of that process where I was weak. I decided, that day, that I'd learn those thing and go my own way. 

Learning Curve

The next year was spent learning all I could about the business of books, and the business of business. Obviously, being a Dot Com Pioneer back in the 90s and beyond, I understood business, but I'd gone straight to Director from a standing start so, clearly, there were areas I'd missed. For a while, I lived on EST instead of GMT because that's when all the best training calls happened. 

My husband was made redundant, we ran out of money for heat (or even much food), but he believed in my writing. He let me take money from the heating and food budgets for internet access, so I could build my readership. After over twenty bouts of hypothermia, over five stones (70 pounds) of weight lost between us, and a resilient determination to focus on what could be achieved through online networks, I reached a point where - with over 12,000 followers on Twitter, and many thousands more elsewhere (and over six and a half million in my network) - I don't actually need agents or publishers

I have been blessed with the most supportive, dynamic, and determined followers online: The Word Nerd Army. Over the last two years, they have done everything they can to help me bring this book to you. They even paid my heating bills on a couple of occasions. Any success I have with this book is also their success.

If you buy my book, thank you. Please tell your friends. I've not taken steps to curb piracy, because I trust you. If you can afford to buy it, you will, and if you feel moved by it or find it funny I'm sure you'll tell your friends, or buy them a copy.

What Success Means to Me

The bit of the story I missed out is that I'm a coma survivor. As a child, I sustained such bad injuries in a car accident that I was told it was very unlikely I would ever be able to write as well as my peers. I taught myself to speak, read and write again - without the help of a speech therapist or counsellor. When I typed the last word of the first draft of my first novel, that felt like success. 

I have no way of knowing whether I will be deemed a success as a novelist by anyone else, that's in your hands. If I don't do well, it certainly won't be for a lack of trying. As far as I'm concerned, I'm living my dream. Anything that happens now is a bonus. 

Very best wishes,

P.S. Here's the book I did all this for. Hope you enjoy it. xxx


Sandra Leigh said...

Am I really the first to comment? What a privilege. Congratulations on all your hard work and ingenuity. You are an inspiration. Rebecca, I can hardly wait to read your book!

patti bright said...

I have only just got to know you through Writing Magazine and now Twitter, but you really do inspire people and even though you have thousands of people following you, you took the time to reply to my tweet. Thank you so much for that and good luck!

Rebecca Woodhead said...


Thanks so much for being first to comment. If there were an award for the best possible followers, I'd present it to you! Thank you for all your support!


How fortunate I am to have such fine new followers. It's been such a joy to meet Writing Magazine readers on Twitter. For some reason, I hadn't thought about how it would feel if people were inspired enough by my articles to look me up online. It's very special. I'm particularly chuffed about the number of people who've come onto Twitter for the first time because of my article.

If you can get hold of a copy of the next one, it's laminatable. I've put in the condensed version of two years of research into marketing for writers. Should be very useful to anyone who wants to make a living from their writing.

Thanks so much, both of you, for commenting. I love courageous types!!

Rachael said...

I've subscribed! Looking forward to reading your book, and thank you for all the moral support and cheering on you've done both on Twitter and behind the scenes. I really appreciate it. xxx

Rebecca Woodhead said...


Thank you for your support too. Can't wait to read YOUR first book. xxx

Anonymous said...

Fabulous new blog. You have done so well, I totally admire you. I'm hoping to get published on Kindle soon, I see it as a step in the right direction. Holding out for a traditional publisher and/or agent is taking too long and I feel my book is ready to be appreciated. After spending three years writing it, I really don't want to spend the next year or even longer having to edit it again to a stranger's preference. Though, all being said, I have submitted and haven't heard back from everyone. Really glad to have found your blog.

CJ xx

Rebecca Woodhead said...

CJ. That's wonderful to hear, and very kind of you. Thank you for commenting.

Rebecca xx

Marilyn Jean said...

Wow, all very interesting Rebecca. I follow you on twitter. I am @mpf2011 and I just started blogging about a week ago. I want to read all through your journey but I will be a subscriber to your lovely blog.

All the best,

Tahlia said...

What a great story. I like your new blog, it's much more comprehensive than the old one. I did the same sort of thing with mine.

It's while since I checked in with you, but I'm following on twitter now - wasn't twittering when I was last here, but I love it now. Hope you book goes well.

Rebecca Woodhead said...

Thank you, Tahlia. :)

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