Your Name and Age: Jodie Isitt, 34
Tell us about your family: I am fiancé of Kenny Isitt and Mum of three to Stanley (12) Lola (10) and Connie-Mai (7). Kenny and I are due to get married in June next year in Rhodes Greece and we are all mega excited. All three of my children are Autistic. Stanley and Lola are diagnosed with ADHD too and Lola is medicated for this which helps her tremendously due to her learning disability and the type of Autism she is diagnosed with, Pathological Demand Avoidance, which is an anxiety driven condition with the need to be in control. We have had to adopt a completely different parenting technique for Lola as traditional parenting and Typical Autism strategies do not help at all. We maintain a zero-demand low arousal parenting type which helps her anxiety immensely. She is also on anxiety medication and has a personal assistant to help her with her morning routine. Connie Mai has severe separation anxiety and her school are fantastic in supporting her and I in managing this.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
Prior to having children, I worked in catering, then I became a stay at home mum which quickly led to me becoming not just a mother to Lola but also a full time carer as her needs were extremely high and demanding. She needs constant care and supervision and until she was at school, I was fully focused on making things as easy as possible for her. Kenny is also disabled as he has a neurological condition which affects his legs and he is unable to do much caring for the children at all, hence why we also have a personal assistant in the morning. I then became a bookkeeping manager for our family building business which I then had to give up because of the family life demand. I soon realised how I could work around caring for the children by doing something I had always dreamed of and would be able to manage around my parenting and caring responsibilities. It also linked to my role as advocate and carer and I incorporated everything I learned into writing children’s stories based on my daughter journey through mainstream school.
When did you launch?
My first children’s book was self-published 2019 and released in June this year
How did you get started?
I just had an idea and requested on Facebook for an illustrator, when one of my friends approached and said it was her career. She was so excited about the project that overnight she had designed and illustrated the main character based on my specifications and it all started from there.
What research did you do before launching?
I joined a Facebook group for illustrators and writers and gained a wealth of knowledge from the kind authors in there. I also did a lot of internet research on printing companies and plush manufacturing companies.
How have you funded the business?
I have fully funded the self-publishing process using some saving and some money I was left in my father’s will. My products are all trademarked which I managed to research and complete myself.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
Prior to self-publishing I had a blog and gained over 9000 followers on Facebook and over 1000 on Instagram. Promotion has mainly been via my FB page and friends and family sharing my dreams. I have done a few fairs which I’ve held a stall and I am now currently working with an ads strategist and PR company to get a bit more exposure.
What has worked well about your book?
The fact that the main character is so relatable is probably the main thing that is working well. She identifies with lots of children with a number of disabilities and symptoms and is extremely cute. She comes as a plush rabbit too which the children love because she carries her own ear defenders.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
My biggest challenge has been learning about Amazon and how to sell via this platform. Adding books to it, sending them across and learning about the whole system has been so difficult but well worthwhile. Again, lots of members in the FB group I am in have helped massively with video tutorials
How do you fit in work with the family?
The best thing about this is that I don’t have an employer and I am responsible for myself so any time off I need I can take, and I am not letting anyone down. I work around the family and can attend all appointments and meetings that I need to.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
To research and be prepared for a lot of hard work. Self-publishing and fully funding a business are massive commitments. You need to make sure that your idea is going to fit in the market which is already overrun with amazingly talented and inspiring authors. Your idea needs to unique and worthy
More details are at www.autismwithlovepublishing.com