Tell us about your family. I am single mum to three daughters, aged six, four and three. We live in Brighton with our beloved Labrador Buddy in a 70s split-level house furnished from car boot sale finds. We are very outdoorsy girls and can often be found down the beach or playing in the mud somewhere. We start the morning with a big cup of sugary tea in bed and end the day with a Famous Five story.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition? I used to work in Marketing, and then Journalism, but I have always written in my spare time. I started off writing poetry. I first got published when I was seven. I am not bragging, it was an awful poem about cats. I don’t even like cats, which is probably why the cat in my poem got run over.
When did you launch? I finished my book about a year ago and it is being printed over the next month to be on the shelves in January. EEK!
How did you get started? I started blogging when my eldest daughter was two weeks old. The blog became popular, so I started a second one which was slightly more anonymous. My blogs started to feature on Mumsnet, Britmums and Babycentre. I won a Brilliance in Blogging award for the best family blogger 2013 (the only thing I’ve ever won) at Britmums Live last year. At the same conference I handed the first three chapters of my book, Confessions Of A Mother Inferior, to a literary agent, and it went from there.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business? Well, the literary agent ended up saying no, and so did a couple of others. I was about to give up on when Murielle from Britains Next Best Seller (BNBS) approached me at Britmums this year and told me to send her my manuscript. I read about the company and liked the idea of having so much ownership of the book.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business? The fact that I got a no from the litary agents does make me slightly worried that the book is not quite good enough to make the shelves. I would have liked the support and backing that comes with the traditional publishing route. That said, I did like designing my own book cover.
What has worked well about your business? Social media and twitter for crowd funding (I needed 250 pre orders of the book to get the publishing deal). Friends, family and blog followers all helped me. People were incredibly supportive. Lots of people have come out the woodwork with their own manuscripts since, which is bloody brilliant. The whole concept of BNBS is that the readers pick the books, not the agents. I seem to have convinced people my book is worth publishing. I put exerts of the book on my facebook page which increased pre-orders.
How do you fit in work with the family? I blog while my daughters are at school and pre-school and I write in the night while they sleep next to me. It’s hard to get the balance right. I feel guilty that I am not doing enough book marketing and guilty that I am on the phone or laptop when I should be with my girls. Guilt is part of being a mum though, which is one of the themes in my book. Us women are great at giving ourselves a hard time.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?Of course I hope the book will be a best seller and I can have a nutritionist, elocution lessons, personal shopper and my children will all wear Mini Boden and go to a posh school, and the agents who turned me down with curse themselves for their foolhardy ways. I’d invest in properties, donate mega bucks to charities, wear expensive body shaping underwear and get my leg hair lasered…but mostly, I just want to be able to take my girls into a book shop, show them Confessions on the shelves and say “See that book? Mummy wrote that, she wrote it for you”.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else? don’t think I could ever stop writing. Lines for poems and blogs are always drifting through my head, demanding to be written. It’s the only thing I am any good at. Well, that and cleaning.
Do you have an exit strategy? Yes, if my book is a flop I shall run away to France and live with my mum and dad in their tiny village and make wooden pegs to sell at the local market.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come? When I won my blogging award I felt pretty incredible, and when the 250th pre-order came in for my book and I realised it was actually going to print I felt a bit weird, but I am from a family of piss-takers who keep my hideously grounded.
Where do you hope to be in five years time? Writing my second or third book, and weekly column for Grazia, or maybe the Sainsbury magazine (I like to keep it real).
Your website link. www.muminthesouth.co.uk
Ericka’s book, Confessions of a Mother Inferior, is available on Amazon from 30 January 2015