‘Mummy Has A Lump’ by Simone Baldwin.

I was diagnosed with a brain tumour when my son was only six. I searched for a suitable book to help me explain things to him, but I couldn’t find anything.

A few years later I decided to fill that gap and create a picture book for parents to read with their children to support discussions about tumour diagnosis. Not just brain tumours, but broad enough to use for any tumour.

I wrote a poem for children aged approximately 4 – 8 years, called ‘Mummy has a Lump‘, to guide conversations about tumours, without using the words tumour or cancer. The book includes a section for parents about my experiences of telling my children and why I made the decision I did. I used social media to find an incredibly talented local illustrator who created beautiful and gentle illustrations and then started to approach publishers. 

I did a lot of research to ensure I approached the right publishers in their preferred format. Some wanted a full manuscript, some had an online form to complete, some wanted example illustrations while others would use their own illustrators.  Many weren’t accepting submissions for children’s book at all.  Then I waited.   I have learnt that patience is a key part of publishing and an area I found the most difficult.  My book is rather a niche genre, not particularly commercial or profitable.  I had some wonderful feedback and encouragement but no deals I felt happy to accept. So, I began to explore other options.  I wanted to make sure I could give copies of my book away to the charities that support people like me, and after further research I decided the self-publishing partnership was the best solution for me. I sent an initial enquiry and got a quick, friendly response.

The first phone call about my book was extremely exciting.  It felt so positive to be discussing how my book could take shape.  I was presented with options and solutions, and the whole process was explained clearly. There was no pressure to make any decisions or commit.

In subsequent communication my questions were answered quickly and clearly, so I decided to go ahead and we agreed a price and exactly what that would include.  I sent my work and waited.  I was contacted regularly, but it was still an exercise in patience for me.  I’d just handed my ‘soul’ over to professionals who were going to proof-read and copy edit my work, I and was both anxious and excited about what I would get back. 

A few weeks later I received my word document with edits to review.  I was relieved it wasn’t totally covered in red pen! The edits that had been suggested were explained clearly and it was up to me to review them and choose whether to accept or decline.  Of course, I accepted every one. I understood why they had been suggested and could compare my original with their suggestions.  I could take advantage of the expert opinion while still feeling in control of my work.  I really felt they had understood my aims for the book and had worked hard to preserve that with me.

Next came the cover design.  Three suggested designs.  Myself and my illustrator had given a brief for the cover and a suggested cover illustration.   Our ideas were one of the designs created, but we were sent two alternatives.  While they all looked good, one of the designer’s suggestions was a clear favourite.

Shortly after returning my revised manuscript, I received the PDF of internal content with the layout design and illustrations.  That was the first hint of what my book would actually look like and once again, I felt the designers had really understood the feel I wanted to create in the book and captured that perfectly.

We discussed printing costs, print numbers and RRP for the book and eBook. The fulfilment and commission process was explained to me again and I was offered advice to guide my decisions.

A few weeks later my copies were delivered and shortly after that,  my book was available to buy.

The whole process for me was extremely positive.  SPP guided and advised me whenever I asked and delivered exactly what was promised. 

Would I recommend SPP? Without hesitation.


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