Sally Bee – Another Self-Publishing Success?

Self-publishing success stories are always a great booster for other self-publishing authors. They demonstrate that perseverance and hard work can one day finally pay off. Just a few weeks ago we covered the self-publishing successes of Boyd Morrison and John Lenahan here.

The latest self-publishing success story doing the rounds is Sally Bee who has had her cookbook picked up by Collins for world English rights. The Secret Ingredient by Sally Bee will be published in March 2010. The book was bought from Bee’s literary agent, Clare Hulton. It already has been a number one on Amazon UK under her own self-publishing imprint, Luckypuddle. The media, particularly in the US, have picked up on the fact that US First Lady, Michelle Obama has ordered 12 copies and invited Bee to cook for her at the White House for the launch of the Collins edition of the book next year. But this is not just the simple story of a self-publishing success. In fact, on and off, over the past two years Sally Bee, her cookbook and her battle with a heart defect have featured in many national and community newspapers, magazines and regional TV stations in the UK.

Clearly, on a personal basis, the real story for Sally Bee has been her success in conquering a sudden heart illness (resulting in three heart attacks in one week) and turning a great adversity in life into a positive drive through to her recovery. In so doing, she has helped many others with heart disease and people with the desire to live a healthier life. She has not only gone on to great writing success, but has also become a health coach and spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation.

This self-publishing success story piqued my interest in a number of ways. One being the way the story was dealt with by the media a year or two ago, before the Collins publishing deal, and the way it is being dealt with now. What was different? Well, previously, Bee’s story was reported pretty much along the lines of ‘human interest’ – a woman with a potentially critical illness achieves a miracle recovery and then turns adversity to advantage by writing a cookbook and landing a world-wide publishing deal. This story is very much the dreams of most avid newspaper and feature editors. Indeed, if you do not look too far beyond the headlines, for many, that is all there is to the story. Self-publishing authors will take great inspiration from this story of success, and rightly, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Let me explain. To be fair, Sally Bee is no ordinary self-published author—though as a human being and inspiration to us all—she is extraordinary. Sally Bee led a high-flying career as a model, TV presenter and writer for QVC and Granada TV companies in the UK. Not only did Sally Bee have the advice and representation of her literary agent, Clare Hulton, but she also had the benefit of one of the UK’s strongest PR companies in the business, Max Clifford Associates, and it was PR consultant Michele Melliger who looked after her account there. Not quite the backup behind most self-published authors! So when the White House phone rang recently and someone was inquiring about how much Mrs. Obama enjoyed the recipes in The Secret Ingredient, you can bet it wasn’t Sally Bee herself who made the call.

So what is my point in this and what can self-published authors learn from Sally Bee’s own publishing experience? While it is great to regularly come across self-publishing successes—many of them are far from ‘typical’ self-publishing experience, that is, in the sense of what an author might construe as being plucked from ‘humble beginnings’ and tossed into the limelight, accolades and best-seller sales lists. There should be no illusions that Sally Bee’s self-publishing experience was graced with many of the tools and business acumen normally associated with traditional publishing. Certainly it helps to be an extraordinary person, because, often, extraordinary people have many of the ingredients required to self-publish very successfully—resolve, self-belief, courage, dedication and perseverance. In Sally Bee’s case, she had all these but much, much more. She had a firm grounding in media; she was used to being in the spotlight and working as a presenter on a shopping channel sure teaches you how to sell and present a product in the best possible light.

I’ve always said serious self-publishing authors need to treat their books as if they were running a small business. The skill set required for both is much the same.

You can visit Sally Bee’s site at the below link.

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