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The freedom of self-publishing

This week something happened that reminded me why I wanted to self-publish. It was a call for help, for copyright-free audio files of authors reading their own stories, and I knew I had to be involved...

Two years ago, I had to start teaching yoga online, and fast. I had never done it before.

There was lots of admin.

Did my insurance cover me? What did I have to put in place to allow my existing class members to join? What else did I have to put in place to allow new class members to join? What did I need to do to ensure that random strangers didn't crash our classes?

What was I allowed to do online that I normally did in real life classes?

Yoga teachers love reading from books, we squirrel away ideas that inspire us so that we can share them in class. I found out that copyright law allows me to read from someone else's book in a Zoom class, but if I record myself on YouTube, I need permission from the publisher.

I decided to write my own relaxation scripts and then I could share what I like. Then I thought I'd publish them myself, and I could still share what I like. If I went down the traditional publishing route, not only would that lead to years of submitting and being rejected, it would also mean that I still couldn't read from my books without permission from the publishers. I wanted complete ownership and I wanted quick results and that's what I ended up with for my four books and one audiobook.

Then last week, I saw a post on Twitter calling for authors to help. The tweet was from James Mayhew, illustrator of the award-winning Nen and the Lonely Fisherman saying "I have a Ukrainian friend in Spain who has asked me for recordings (audio or film) of gentle stories and fairy tales to soothe frightened children hiding from bombs." There were some requirements: they had to be files, not links to YouTube, as the children don't have access to the Internet. They had to be copyright free.

Well, my audiobook of relaxation scripts was written entirely to support children's mental health, and I own the copyright. I narrated it, I composed and performed the music, it is entirely and totally mine to share as I see fit.

I shared it and had this reply from Alex, the Ukrainian friend:

You are amazing. Thank you for this beautiful readings and your support.

It’s so important right now for us and we are happy you doing this for Ukrainian children.

This is exactly what they need now.

We are created telegram channel so they can give the stories to their kids in earphones

for goodnight or for just to have adult talks or some relaxation for them.

And all your files we’re sending to our activists, who work with refugees and those who are now with

the parents of children in shelter.

We are strong together!!!

Thank you

This has inspired me to write a new relaxation script, to sell as a pdf and mp3. They are available to download from my shop. All money raised will go to Unicef. I chose Unicef as they work specifically with children and their families.

Ben and Steph Grandis, the fabulous illustrators who worked on Red Kites, Apples and Blood Cells and Goldfinches, Daffodils and Sunshine have also provided an illustration for my latest relaxation script, free of charge. I hope I can share some lovely relaxing feelings and raise lots of money for Unicef too.

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