Welcome to my Authors 40+ Series – sharing the stories of amazing authors who published their first book over the age of 40. The series features talented, experienced and inspirational writers who share their (often non-conventional!) writing and publishing journeys honestly and articulately. Next to feature, is Elizabeth Forth!
1) What is the title and synopsis/premise of your first book and how old were you when you published it?
Title: From Slates to Laptops: Memoirs of a Primary School Teacher.
Author: Elizabeth Forth (N.B. this is a pseudonym).
The book traces my educational experiences from my own school days in the 1950s through my career as a primary school teacher and headteacher, stretching into the new millennium. It focuses on the challenges within the classroom during years of unprecedented change.
I was 70 when the book was published.
2) Tell me about writing the book e.g. where did the idea come from / how long did it take / what did you learn along the way?
Looking back after retirement I realised that my career in teaching had been such a rich and varied experience it would perhaps be worth sharing with others. It was, however, several years later and only knowing that there was a real chance of publication that ideas began to take shape.
From my own school days to the point at which I retired from teaching at the turn of the century many changes had taken place in education. This, I decided, would be an ideal framework for my book. So, at the age of 67 I began to set down my thoughts. The process was interrupted when I decided to return to England. (I had spent 38 years in Scotland.) Towards the end of 2016, when I had settled into my new home, I joined a writing group where I gained encouragement and support. Whilst recovering from an operation in January 2017 I wrote most of the book, and towards the end of that year my work was finally in print.
Once I began to write I was amazed at the memories that flooded into my mind. It was as if the writing of the book took care of itself!
3) Tell me about your publishing journey step by step – what happened once the book was finished?
In 2012 I met up with an old friend from my student days in Leeds. He was publishing and printing books as part of a charity he was running in Inverness. I became involved in the charity – creating a website, proofreading and attending book launches. This experience, which included meeting with authors, meant that I became familiar with the process of producing a book for publication. On discussing ideas for my own book, I was encouraged to commit my memoirs to paper knowing that it could be published by the charity.
When it was finished several people proofread and reviewed the book.
Although I was not responsible for publishing the book myself, I now understand that it was effectively self-published, as I did not go to a traditional publishing company.
4) Who or what has helped you the most in becoming a published author?
The director of the charity ‘For The Right Reasons’ in Inverness where the book was published and printed and my writing group in Hull: ‘Writers@…’.
5) What are the main obstacles you faced / overcame when writing and publishing your book(s)?
Getting started in the first place was perhaps the biggest challenge, then having to put it on hold for more than a year whilst moving house. Being proficient in word processing was a great advantage but I did have to extend this skill to manage typesetting and preparation for printing, which I chose to do myself (although it did need to be checked). I also prepared the book for Kindle: a process I did not find easy.
6) How do you promote/advertise your book(s)?
As well as featuring on their own website the publisher put the book on Amazon.
‘From Slates to Laptops‘ is available on Amazon Kindle.
I have had a table at two Christmas fairs and shared a table at a spring fair with another member of my writing group. Writer’s@… also held a promotion at a ‘green fair’ where my book featured.
The book is also available at a local bookshop.
7) How did you celebrate the incredible achievement of your first book being published?
On production of the first printed copies a small launch was organized, attended by supporters of the charity.
8) What advice would you give to other authors about to begin their publishing journey?
Just write. Be confident; don’t give up; if possible join a support group.
9) Where is/are your book(s) currently available to read and where can people find you online?
Amazon; Amazon Kindle; For the Right Reasons Charity, Inverness (http://www.ftrr.org.uk); Barker’s Bookshop, Cottingham.
10) Are you working on anything new we can look forward to in 2019?
Currently I am working on a family history but hope to begin another book later in the year.
Thank you for taking part in my Authors 40+ Series Elizabeth! If you are an author who published their first fiction or nonfiction book over the age of 40 and would like to be featured in this blog series just like Stephen, Iuliana, Tamsin, Julie, Lynne, Devorah, Paul, Joanne, Paul, D.P., Reyna, Michael and Christina, please get in touch!