Become The Best You – an interview with Reneé Davis

Many of us dream of being a published author – the excitement, the satisfaction and (hopefully) the plaudits… but what’s the reality like? I was recently lucky enough to grab an interview with the author, blogger, mum-of-three and all-round lovely Reneé Davis. Reneé self-published her first book ‘Become The Best You’ last November. Here’s a bit about the book:#btby

After her dysfunctional upbringing Reneé Davis knew she wanted more out of life, but had no idea how she was going to achieve it. She lived life in self-destruct mode for years until she eventually made peace with the past, ditched bad influences and behaviour, and got comfortable with what she saw in the mirror.

This book tells you how you can do the same. How you can change your life and break your own cycle of dysfunction.

Anyone is capable of doing it. You just have to want to badly enough.

I read the book myself last year and found it very inspiring. It’s full of practical, sensible advice that makes it relevant for anyone whether you come from a similar background to Reneé or are just hoping to change a few things about your life. The memoir sections make it much more compelling and meaningful than your average self-help book. I recommend it!

Hi Reneé, congratulations on your book! How did it feel to hit the publish button? (Is there even a publish button? I’m imagining it big and shiny and that when you press it a mini firework display is activated? ;)

To be honest it’s all a bit of a blur! There’s definitely a button on Create Space (submit perhaps?) that you press once you’ve done all your uploading and filled in all the forms. It then goes off to be checked by them and usually goes live on Amazon 3-5 days later. It was pretty thrilling I have to say, but my book went live within 24 hours which took me by surprise. I wasn’t anticipating it being available to buy quite so fast, and had to rejig time off work to bring my launch day forward. It was all fab in the end, but is worth taking into consideration if you are thinking of self-publishing.

How have things gone with the book since? Are you where you hoped to be at this point?

Funnily enough I wrote a post about this recently. The book did amazingly well in it’s first couple of weeks and even made it into the Amazon Bestsellers Top 50, which I’m so very proud of. Since then I’ve hardly had a moment to breathe between the kids and work, so book promotion has been bottom of my list. My 3yo has just started nursery though, so I’ll have a little bit of spare time to work on my plans for world domination.

How long did it take you to write (and edit)?

From start to finish it was almost a year to the day. I began writing bits and pieces when I went on maternity leave in the January, then it all ground to a halt after my son was born on Valentine’s Day. I took two months off while we all adjusted to our new addition, and started writing again in the Spring. By the end of Summer I had a first draft on my hands, which I then paid handsomely to be critiqued by an editor at a top literary agency. He had some great advice for me which I took on board, and spent the next three months editing and filling in the gaps. Once I was happy with the manuscript I sent it away for a second edit to ensure it didn’t have any glaring typos or grammatical errors. After it came back I had to do some tweaks here and there, then it was ready to be published. I’m sure I could have carried on editing it forever, but there comes a point where you have to say ‘this is good enough’.

The book is built on your own experiences – was it painful to write? 

As I explain in the book, I made peace with my dysfunctional past a long time ago, and feel very emotionally detached from it now. I find writing about the things I’ve been through really cathartic, and I get a great sense of pride knowing that I’m also helping others to help themselves by sharing my story.

How did you find a balance between self-help and memoir?

The structure of the book changed several times throughout the course of me writing it. I don’t think I was too aware of the need for  balance, it just naturally worked out around half and half.

What made you decide to self-publish rather than go down the ‘traditional’ route?

Time was and is my biggest constraint. I have very little of the stuff going spare and didn’t want to sit on my manuscript while I trod the long treacherous route of trying to find an agent. A book like mine is so niche, and there aren’t going to be many out there willing to take it on. I firmly believe that if you have the talent as a self-published author an agent/publisher will come to you.

Is self publishing a difficult thing to do? Is it expensive (especially having paper versions made)?

Not at all, especially now that Create Space are an Amazon company they make it very easy to self-publish. As well being available on Kindle, they print orders on demand so there is no outlay for printing, and they have various distribution channels to help get your book into shops and libraries. In terms of cost, I spent a fair bit of money on the book. Having two professional edits and a professional cover designed, doesn’t come cheap but was worth every penny in my opinion as my book looks every bit as good as the next book does. Of course the flip side of this is that all the royalties are my own.

What have been the best and worst parts of your whole writing/publishing/marketing experience so far?

Just not having any time to dedicate to book promotion. I’ve had moments of real frustration over it lately, but this is the reality of life with small children, and I have three of them (including a baby who is still breastfeeding).

Do you have any advice for writers out there?

Just write write write. Even if the words don’t really make sense at first, the only way you’ll ever get better at anything is by practicing. If you truly utilise every single opportunity you get to write, you’ll be sitting in front of a first draft before you know it. I used to stay awake after the baby had his early morning feed around 4am which gave me an hour and a half to two hours of writing time each day before the rest of the house woke up. Who needs sleep?! Oh and don’t be fearful of the editing process. I would say half of my original content didn’t make the final book, but I didn’t shed a single tear because what was left was much better.

What’s next (for both the book and you)? 

Next step for Become the Best You is getting it in front of people that could take it further. Not necessarily literary agents but mental health charities, magazines, influential self-help authors. I’m thinking well and truly outside of the box on this one. Next step for me is to start working on my novel. Guess I need to take my own advice and get writing! Watch this space ;-)

Thanks Reneé and good luck!

mumturnedmom

31 thoughts on “Become The Best You – an interview with Reneé Davis

  1. Susan Mann

    A great interview. I bought this book, not read it yet, but it’s high on my to be read list. I am looking forward to it. I find this inspirational and the advice for writers is great. Thank you x

    Reply
  2. Emma from over at Life As It Is

    Great interview technique Maddy, although Renee, you make the art of being an interviewee look (and read) so very simple. That is the art of brilliant story telling though isn’t it? Hearing a voice. Dictating to the page. I think you are very brave in many ways. Sharing your story and self publishing for starters. Amazing mummy tries and conquers! Hope the promoting falls into place x

    Reply
    1. Reneé

      Ahhhh Emma you sure know how to flatter a lady! Thank you for your kind lovely words. I’ve been productive this week in the promotion department for the first time this year. Felt good xx

      Reply
  3. Sam

    I followed Reneé’s writing journey with this one and I have to say she is so inspirational – showing that not only is it possible to turn your life around through positivity and teaching yourself to de-programme what has been fed into you as a child, but also, through just her absolutely practical, no-nonsense, just get on with it attitude to the writing (and getting published!) process. No sign of the writer’s dreaded nemesis ‘procrastination’ there! #theprompt

    Reply
    1. Reneé

      Thanks Sam, I’m so pleased you enjoyed the book and took something away from it. I certainly had moments of crippling self-doubt, but I managed to banish the thoughts away before they did too much harm. I think all writers of any kind go through phases of thinking they’re pants, but hopefully the urge to write and share will win the day in the end. Does with me…so far at least!! :)

      Reply
  4. Dana

    This is a great interview Maddy, so nice to hear more about Renee’s book! Which is beautiful, by the way. I love the cover. Money well spent! I think authors sometimes scrimp on things like these and it only hurts the book. People do look at covers, they are judged like it or not. But once they pick it up, you have a chance at being read. I can’t wait to read you book Renee, congrats on a job well done.

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      You’re right about covers mattering Dana – I often notice when I’m reading reviews that people say ‘I loved the cover – it made me read the book!’. It’s definitely worth spending money on. Glad you liked the interview. x

      Reply
    2. Reneé

      Thanks so much Dana. Unfortunately there are independent authors out there who just aren’t taking it seriously enough. The very talented Helen Braid created my blog header and did such a great job, I just knew she’d do me proud with the book cover and I wasn’t wrong :)

      Reply
  5. Sophie Lovett

    Lovely interview – Renee comes across as an inspiration as always :) It’s always lovely to get an insight into someone else’s writing journey – and even though I’ve been following this one closely there were new gems here. Good job! X

    Reply
  6. Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    Great interview Maddy, and brilliant answers from Renee. I’ve followed her writing journey too, and read the book. She is inspirational x Thank you so much for sharing with #The Prompt x

    Reply
  7. Leigh - Headspace Perspective

    Brilliant – I love Renee’s book and it’s interesting to read a bit more about the process of how it came into being. She really is inspirational – self-publishing rather than allowing the manuscript she believed in to gather dust is an example for us all! (Looking at myself in particular) #ThePrompt xx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Oh Leigh have you got a book in the pipeline? Exciting! keep me posted! We should all take a page out of Reneé’s book (not literally)! xx

      Reply
  8. Reneé

    Thanks so much for all your support Leigh! Self-publishing wasn’t q decision I made lightly, but it was definitely the right one at the right time. I’m super excited to hear that you’re thinking about all this, look forward to hearing more xx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Vicki – Reneé is very inspiring and I’m glad this interview has given you ideas for publishing your recipe book! xx

      Reply

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