From left to right: the self-published cover of Who Let The Gods Out? and the final cover from Chicken House
Most of my best decisions have been incredibly stupid. Last year, for instance, I uprooted my family 100 miles from London to Dorset on little more than whimsy and love for fish and chips. It was a great stupid decision.
Two years ago, I gave up my journalism career to start my own creative writing business, Story Stew, refusing to acknowledge that I had all the business acumen of the Titanic's lifeboat suppliers. It's given me flexibility, fun and freedom - another inspired stupid decision.
Three years ago, I decided to experiment with a fringe for the first time...That, it turned out, was just plain stupid - I never said this system was perfect.
But perhaps my best stupid decision also came that year, when I opted to self-publish my children's book, Who Let The Gods Out. I had originally written the manuscript in 2009. With two tiny children constantly vomiting Weetabix at me, writing a book had been a welcome distraction from pureeing everything in sight. Convinced I had written The Next Big Thing, I sent it off, hoping that my letterbox was large enough to accommodate the large comedy cheque that was coming my way.
Turned out I did need a big letterbox - for all the rejections that followed. I couldn't get WLTGO arrested, let alone published. And so, with all the dignity and poise of a then 30-year old woman... I threw a massive strop and refused to write a word for the next five years.
But by 2014, the publishing landscape had evolved and self-publishing was now a 'thing'. That said, it wasn't really a ''thing' for children's books - self-publishing conventionally works best through e-sales where your margins are low and you don't need to worry about the considerations of printing/storing/distributing/stocking and so forth.
So I made a stupid decision - and did it anyway. It led to my book eventually being acquired by the mighty Chicken House and being republished in the mainstream this year, with the sequel, Simply the Quest, coming out on 3 August.
It worked for me - I did, however, make a lot of (not good) stupid mistakes along the way. Here, for the benefit of anyone thinking of travelling this road, is my guide on how NOT to self-publish your book:
Now. About this 80s jumpsuit. It could come back. Right...?
Maz began her writing career in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer and has also been a university lecturer. Most recently she founded Story Stew; a creative writing programme that visits primary schools and literary festivals around the UK. This creative and inventive business is one that Maz is hugely passionate about, and was her personal answer to finding a creative outlet and role that fitted in around her family life. The WHO LET THE GODS OUT? series grew from Maz’s experiences with Story Stew, and her daily interactions with young people: their connection to and creativity and spontaneity with storytelling. Maz has spoken to thousands of children and has never heard the same story twice.