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What a whirlwind the past six months have been for us here at the Tawny Owl Wood office! Our feet have hardly touched the ground. After launching the first three books just before Christmas 2023, we hit the ground running as we entered 2024. The hard work began in earnest and by the end of April, we were fully stocked with eight shiny new books on our shelves.  

Choosing self-publishing over traditional publishing was a major decision. Each route has its pros and cons, and every situation is unique.  Traditional publishing suits some authors who prefer to focus solely on writing, leaving the massive tasks of printing, publishing, and distribution to others. Self-publishing, on the other hand, offers full control but isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the process, especially when it’s your first time.

Personally, I knew we weren’t going to pursue traditional publishing. I wasn’t willing to risk the concept of the books becoming lost or diluted in any way. After all, the concept is the beating heart of Tawny Owl Wood. From the very start, I knew it was going to be hard work, but I didn’t fully appreciate just how much. With limited funds and while still working two jobs, I have had to manage web design, marketing, social media, communications, and booking events.

The past six months have been a true test. Over the years I have become quite reserved and anxious when facing challenging situations. I’m the type of person who sits at the back of the room and avoids talking to anyone. Coping with hidden disabilities compounds this. Attending shows and talk to people all day long as pushed me completely out of my comfort zone. The first few shows heightened my anxiety, making me almost physically ill from stress. In today’s social media-driven world, striving for perfection was overwhelming. But I wasn’t alone. But, I have not just had myself to think about during this time. Phil, my partner, has been by my side, supporting me through every challenge. Despite his background in selling seafood, a far cry from children’s books, he has stepped up to help, often pushing his own limits to do so. He too has been pushed to the limit of his comfort zone, yet he has done it willingly to support me and pick me up when I need it. He sees my own struggles both mentally and physically and does his best to get me through them. His unwavering belief in me and our books is a constant source of strength. He truly is my other half.

The shows themselves have been an absolute eye opener. We have meet some of the most amazing people, who have even become friends. The community spirit that stallholders have is second to none. I don’t think I have worked in an industry where the camaraderie is the same, and for that I am so truly thankful. Even though we are all selling different crafts, we are all putting ourselves on the line and all going through the very same struggle. Every time we attend one we learn something new, meet new people and lift the lid on our comfort zone a little bit more.

Managing hidden disabilities isn’t easy. I’ve had to find ways to prevent burnout, both from the shows and our online presence. Balancing everything is a constant challenge. But I’ve always believed in being authentic. No one is perfect, and once you let go of the expectation of perfection, managing anxiety becomes easier. I am who I am, and that’s all you’re going to get. Our books are written from the heart, inspired by real-life events and my love for nature, aiming to make everyone feel at ease with who they are. I truly understand the effects someone else’s thoughts and insecurities have when they are placed on others.  

This month we were in Cambridge for a two day show. We launched two of our latest books – Summer Time, which is a picture book for 0-6yrs and A New Arrival – a chapter book aimed for 7-12yrs.

Our final show for the month was Faversham on the 15th, with the lovely Eventissima Events team, Nick and Jo, it is always a pleasure to be attending one of their craft shows.

Since January, we’ve been non-stop, so we are taking a well-earned short break away with the family before we start the next phased of shows in July. From July until December, we will be attending shows every weekend up and down the South of England. Keep any eye out for dates and locations each month. – you might find us near you!

As summer approaches, there’s is plenty to enjoy outside in our beautiful countryside. Make sure to take some time to venture into the great outdoors.

Thank you for following our journey. We look forward to sharing more updates and stories with you as we continue this incredible adventure.