Why it helps an Author to rate their books and like/love posts.

I have a newfound respect for authors who write day in and day out to get their wonderful ideas onto the page but struggle to make ends meet while doing so. After finishing my Local Government contract, I decided to give full-time writing a try, which is something I have wanted to do for many years. I have written and designed four children’s (or cat lovers) books and created a few colouring books, to see how the self-publishing process worked. I have spent many hours watching YouTube videos about people sharing their Amazon self-publishing income reports in which they earn thousands of dollars a month for their low content books, such as journals and notepads, and I ponder, how on earth are they making that sort of money.

I have not had an income since December 2022 so am mindful about how much money I can afford to spend on marketing my books, but I decided to give it a try through Amazon Ads and very quickly discovered I could not afford to keep ads running. Within two weeks, Amazon had taken $170 out of my account and yet from that Ad spend I received a couple of sales. As yet, I have not received any royalties for my books. My first are due at the end of April (February sales) and will be around $20. In May I will be due about $100 and so far, this month’s sales for the June payment are $7. Looking at those figures, I have been paying for people to buy my books as opposed to people paying me for my hard work in writing and illustrating.

They do say that being an author is 20% writing and 80% marketing which is quite demoralising to push books in people’s faces constantly. I have my Facebook Author page, Instagram, this Blog, and I’ve recently tried Tiktok to get onto the Booktok trend, but it takes so much time which eats into writing time and quite frankly makes me feel quite defeated some days. I know it is very early days and it can take years for an author to gain traction but there are some things that book purchasers or followers can do to help the process.

If you purchase a book, please give it a rating and or a comment. Part of the Amazon algorithm works by ratings. So far, I only have one to three ratings on my books and yet Minxy’s first adventure, Minxy and the White Windmill has sold 15 copies. If all 15 people rated the book, then it would climb higher in the ratings and potentially be seen by more people without the need for Ad spend. Minxy’s first book was 29 pages long which is standard for the type of book but the next few I made them longer, giving more value to the customer, however that then reduces royalties dramatically. As an example, in the USA, Minxy and the White Windmill – 29 pages, sold six copies and my royalties will be $1.70 per book. The fourth book Minxy and the Four Leaf Clover Charm – 55 pages, sold six copies and my royalties will be 9 cents per book…yes 9 cents.

Another way to help authors is to like and or comment on blog posts such as this, or Follow and engage through likes, loves etc on Instagram and Facebook and perhaps even sharing author pages with your social networks. It is very hard for authors to gain traction without an audience.

This is not meant to be a ‘woe is me’ blog, but a factual and transparent post about how hard authors work. I have always loved writing and now I am fully back in the zone I would love for my work to be read by a much wider audience. I am currently editing the fantasy novel I have been writing off and on since 2005 and this week have also started writing a RomCom (romantic comedy). I had always wanted to write what I deemed intelligent books, like those by Salman Rushdie, Tolstoy, Virginia Wolfe etc, and that is partly due to academia, but have realised that it is also an ego thing. Of course, a writer wants to produce the best work possible but that can be in any form, a children’s series, a RomCom series or fantasy. One of my favourite authors, Alexander McCall Smith, is a powerhouse at writing and produces handfuls of books each year. They are beautifully written and predominantly evolve around everyday people and place. He is an extremely educated man and was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh before he turned to writing and he has no such ego about the genre he writes in.  

I shall keep writing and publishing for as long as I can financially do so and hope in the near future, I will find audiences for the work I produce who will happily get lost in the pages of my stories.  

Writing a book series

One day my cat Minxy said to me, “I think you should write and publish a book about my adventures so everyone can know about my Land of Catarnia, where I am Queen.” It sounded like a wonderful idea and not one I had previously considered. I had been writing stories since I was young and they were always targeted at adults whereas this idea sounded like it might be for children (or cat owners). But where to start.

In the land of Instagram, Minxy has her own account where she has over 2000 friends and ‘she’ chats with a select amount daily. Having started her account in November 2020, within six months she had a fiancé, Mr. White, who is still yet to make an honest woman of her! Mr. White was homeless, and he was discovered by a loving home and that gave me the idea for Minxy’s first adventure, Minxy and the White Windmill. Once the idea was formed, the words flowed quickly and within a couple of days I was finding suitable illustrations on Canva and soon we had Minxy’s first adventure published on Amazon.  

Minxy’s next story, Minxy and the missing Catnip, was based in Hong Kong and features her friend and bodyguard, Elvis (aka Chatterbox Elvis). Elvis is quirky, very witty, and likes to slap other animals, so he was fun to write about. In Catarnia the cats enjoy drinking Meowjitos and the key ingredient in them is Catnip, so when it starts going missing, the friends set off to find the culprits. In the third book, Minxy and the missing Jigsaw pieces, Minxy and Mr. White go to Liverpool to help Minxy’s human cousins discover who is pilfering their toys. Elvis had a cameo appearance and of course wanted to slap things.

“Liverpool is home to the Beatles and is known for great music, perhaps we can have a dance while we are there, Mr. White.” Minxy gave him a wink.

“Beetles, I don’t wanna see any beetles, if I do I will slap them and crush them and eat them,” exclaimed Elvis… “Beatles, schmeatles, can I stay and play in Catarnia instead…”

The current book, Minxy and the Four Leaf Clover Charm, features Mr. White and their beautiful friend Molly Maisie. Molly was diagnosed with the dreadful disease FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) and her meowmy was told to euthanize her, but she refused and through treatment Molly survived. Molly Maisie has been a beacon of hope and positivity on Instagram every day since and as I write this, she has been cured for 788 days. In the story, the friends travel to Ireland when the Charm goes missing from a Country House. They need to find the charm in time for St. Patrick’s Day so it can be presented at the annual ceremony, ensuring happiness remains for the Irish people.

The fifth book will be out sometime soon and features three more Instagram friends who are based in New York, Donut, Mocha and Sponge Cake, aka the Dessert Trio.

I have found the key in creating momentum for myself to write stories, is to add where the next adventure is going to be and which of Minxy’s friends will be included, at the end of each book. It is also a great way to let fans of the books know there is another imminent story.

All of Minxy’s stories can be purchased through Amazon either in your home country or via Lindy Haigh Amazon USA, Lindy Haigh Amazon UK, Lindy Haigh Amazon Australia.

Instagram: lindyhaigh, minxyhaigh_cat, mynameiswhite_mrwhite, mollymaisethecat, chatterbox.elvis.

Entering the world of Self-Publishing

As someone who has been writing stories since a young age and who did a Degree in Professional Writing and Publishing, it has been a dream (or fantasy) to write a bestseller and be published in the traditional way. In the past, it was near on impossible to find a publisher and literary agent and yet there was a stigma attached to self-publishing. It is no wonder that there are many out there who think they have really great stories to share but have had no platform in which to find readers.

Companies such as Amazon have changed the market for self-publishers with the option to create and publish any type of book through their KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) site. What has made it even more exciting for those in Australia, is the fact that from May 2021, books could be printed on demand in softcover or hardcover and distributed to customers within a couple of days. Although this has been happening in American and British markets, until 2021, Australians had to order books through the UK and it took a couple of weeks for them to arrive.

There is a difference with color printing costs though in the various markets. If you choose to print in black and white with a colored cover then there is no difference and the books will be printed at whatever cost is calculated, depending on size and page count. If you use color illustrations for example, then in all markets except Australia and Japan, standard color is used. If you wish to publish in Australia and Japan, a premium color version needs to be created and the price increased accordingly to make any money at all. This is not ideal on a few levels but if like me you are based in Australia and have friends or family who might like to purchase your color books, then it is better for the consumer to not have to wait so long for their order and be charged conversion rates and high shipping costs.  

Although I always thought my first book to be published would be fiction, I decided to dive head first into the publishing world with a non-fiction Journal. The Journal I wrote is not a blank version, but an interactive one with 120 questions to prompt the reader to explore their unique self. Additionally, I have a nice quote per section and a page about the topic with anecdotes or subject matter information. I had an enjoyable time thinking up the questions and then being creative with illustrations and the layout.

I decided writing the journal was so much fun I created a massive Alphabet book to teach children their letters through drawing, tracing letters, finding objects starting with the letter etc. That then led to the same for learning numbers and finally a Reading Log in which readers can track 250 books they have read.

My books are on all Amazon sites worldwide but quick links for Australia, UK, and USA are:

Australia – Lindy Haigh – Amazon Australia
UK –  Lindy Haigh – Amazon UK
USA – Lindy Haigh – Amazon USA

I have quite a few projects planned, including some fiction novels I have been working on for many years, a non-fiction coaching book, It’s never too late to… and my cat Minxy would like a series of children’s books featuring herself and her Instagram friends. I am sure that in between I will create some other low or medium-content books to add some more creativity to my work day.

Now that I have started this journey into self-publishing I am quite addicted and I hope that one day I can actually make some money from doing something that I truly enjoy.

Writing a book series

One day my cat Minxy said to me, “I think you should write and publish a book about my adventures so everyone can know about my Land of Catarnia, where I am Queen.” It sounded like a wonderful idea and not one I had previously considered. I had been writing stories since I was young…

Keep reading

Historical Re-enactments

Having studied History and now doing further studies in Genealogy, I am obviously fascinated by reading or watching anything historical. Having listened to Hilary Mantel’s three books in the Wolf Hall series, I gained a new fascination for Thomas Cromwell and with that the Tudor period. It was while scanning through YouTube looking for Tudor…

Keep reading


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Historical Re-enactments

Having studied History and now doing further studies in Genealogy, I am obviously fascinated by reading or watching anything historical. Having listened to Hilary Mantel’s three books in the Wolf Hall series, I gained a new fascination for Thomas Cromwell and with that the Tudor period. It was while scanning through YouTube looking for Tudor related material, I came across the Absolute History channel and thought I’d found historian heaven.

Talk about a feast for all the senses; I didn’t know where to start but as I had been looking for Tudor material, made the decision to go with the Tudor Monastery Farm and was enthralled from the first viewing moment. It was a six-part living history series filmed in 2013 where Historian Ruth Goodman and Archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold turned back the clock to the year 1500 and worked as lay-folk during the reign of the first Tudor King Henry VII. They lived and breathed Tudor life over the period of one year in a real-life account doing tasks such as sheep farming and harvesting to fashioning a printing press and building a Tudor clock. Other programs in the living history series include Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm which followed the same structure of living and breathing the historical period over a year. These three series also featured Ruth Goodman and Peter Ginn along with Archaeologist and Historian Alex Langlands.

Once I started watching all these wonderful series, I had to source the books for my collection and took to researching all the second-hand bookshops online. Sadly, a reasonably priced hard copy of the Tudor Monastery Farm book seemed to be as rare as Henry VIII producing a male heir, so I had to succumb to buying a Kindle copy.  The others however I was able to source, along with a selection of other books on the Tudors, Victorians, and Edwardians. I look forward to them adorning the new space I have made on my bookshelf once they make the journey from the UK to Australia.

Possible drawbacks when using the 1841 and 1851 census returns

Although from 1801-1831 census data was collected every ten years from residents in the United Kingdom, it was of the statistical kind and it was not until 1841 that a more modern census was introduced where some personal information was asked for.

According to the Enumeration Abstract, England and Wales was divided into Enumeration Districts, the boundaries of which were strictly defined so that it should contain not more than 200, and not less than 25 inhabited houses.  In that respect, an active man could travel over between morning and sunset on a summer’s day, and obtain from each person dwelling therein all the particulars required by the Act. Further, to the office of Enumerator, was appointed by the Registrars, one individual for each of these sub-divisions, selected from the neighbourhood, with reference to his particular fitness for the office. In consequence of the small size to which these districts were necessarily limited, no less than 35,000 such persons were required for England and Wales[1].

Although the information to be gained from the census would help the government in dealing with trends such as rising population and overcrowding, some people may have been suspicious and felt the government were unnecessarily snooping into their affairs and therefore were not honest in their answers. For those, especially the elderly, who had lived under the old poor law act whereby they thought they would be removed back to where they were born if they could not prove a right to settlement, may when asked on the 1841 census if they were born in the county, have said yes. Ten years later when asked for a specific place of birth they may have stated where they currently lived especially if their living conditions were better off than where they were born. Others listed themselves as widowed especially if they had been abandoned by a spouse for another woman, as was the case with an ancestor of mine, or indeed as married if they were living with someone even if they were not legally married.    

The 1841 census only allowed people to list one occupation even if they had more than one. On the 1841 census my  4th great grandfather was listed simply as a Labourer however in the census of 1851 he was a Farmer of 33 acres and Labourer. This information appears to make a difference in how the family may have been perceived in socio economic terms. The other aspect of the 1841 census was that no relationships were added so assumptions could be made by family historians that Joe and Mary Bloggs were married but they were actually brother and sister. Unless later documentation is available to prove otherwise these types of assumptions can lead to further errors in family trees. There can also be some ambiguity in information that was listed for relationship in the later censuses where terms were mixed up or plain incorrect. I have one instance where the sister of my 2nd great grandmother was living with her and my 2nd great grandfather but instead of sister or sister-in-law she is listed as servant. It was only through searching other records that the servant was discovered to be the sister who was 13 years younger.

The 1841 census occurred in Summer on Sunday 6 June and was a harvest night therefore there were potentially many people involved in agricultural work that were missing from the census including farming servants and labourers in husbandry. A count of seaman working offshore was given but no individual details and members of the armed forces outside of the UK were also not included[2]. This in effect means that for many family historians details of people as close as 2nd or 3rd great grandparents are not going to be found in census records which in some cases means any further research in a family line may be halted.

With the first new census householders were meant to receive written instructions on how to complete the form. This in itself would not be helpful if the householders were illiterate and apparently in practice not many guidelines were given to households. For those that required help either through being confused regarding aspects such as whether lodgers, servants and boarders should be included or where they were illiterate, when the enumerator returned to collect the form they would help to fill it in. This did not mean that all information written down by the enumerator was correct either as householders may have been unsure on how old they really were or the enumerator may have rounded up or down the age for anyone over 15, they may have used derivatives of names, nicknames or middle names and surnames may have been written phonetically if an unusual name. My surname Haigh could have been miswritten by an enumerator as Haig, Hague or Hay for example. I have an ancestor named Henry who was listed on the census as Hal, a great grandparent who was called John Thomas and his wife Mary Jane yet he was listed as Thomas John and she correct as Mary Jane. My 2nd great grandparent, Mary Jane Sharp was aged 2 in the 1851 census, 28 in 1881, 39 in 1891, 44 in 1901, 57 in 1911 and died in 1922 aged 73. In the later censuses Mary Jane was therefore +11 years, +5 years, +13 years. The various census records also had her name as Mary Jane, Jane and Mary Ann.

In the 1841 census the Y or N question for whether born in the district could also be incorrect if people were living close to a border or the handwriting of the enumerator could be interpreted incorrectly as the Y and N look similar. For the 1851 census where place of birth was asked for sometimes a main place might have been listed such as Yorkshire as opposed to drilling down to Wakefield or just a house or farm name was given. There have been instances where place names that don’t even exist  have been written on early census records as the birth place of an ancestor and it is only through establishing families in later censuses that a potentially true birth place be established. If an enumerator from London was sent to a district like Newcastle or Liverpool where residents had very broad accents this could account for misinterpretation of names and place names. Unfamiliarity of districts could also account for whole streets being missed by the enumerator.

The census images that are available to view were written by enumerators into books therefore are transcripts of the original household census forms collected and consequently also provide opportunity for errors to be created particularly if deciphering handwriting by those barely literate. The accuracy of the answers to questions could also be queried depending on the householders level of literacy. Unfortunately the 1841 census was also recorded in pencil and thus parts of it have faded however through digital technology this has been somewhat abated with the ability to zoom into scanned documents.  

Not all of the 1841 census records have survived and some of the 1851 records are also missing. The records of 14 parishes in Fife, Scotland were lost when the ferryboat carrying them sank enroute to Edinburgh. A handful of original 1841 census returns in London have also lost. Websites such as Ancestry and Find My Past have long lists of missing parishes from the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Surrey, Wiltshire and Yorkshire[3].

It would be very rare for census records to ever be fully complete or accurate particularly with the 1841 census being something completely new for the people of England and Wales. The fact that this census was taken in Summer meant that there is no inkling as to how many people were actually missing due to employment or those who had no fixed address for example but it was something the Government were concerned with. A significant change for the 1851 and future censuses was to bring the census date forward to Spring with the 1851 census taking place on Sunday 30 March. The other consideration regarding accuracy is that not only were errors potentially made initially by enumerators but modern transcribers do not always get the information correct either. I recall searching for an ancestor that has been eluding me for years and thought I’d struck gold when I found a transcription for the exact unusual name I had put in only to open the document and find the transcriber had used two peoples names within the document that formed the exact name I was looking for. It is always worth checking transcriptions from various websites but also the original document in order to gain some sort of clarity surrounding records. Finally never take for granted information that other people may have placed in their trees from census records without verifying it actually belongs to your ancestor or is indeed transcribed correctly, it is not only people in the past that can misinterpret information.

[1] Enumeration Abstract, https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/census/GB1841ABS_1/2. [2] Jolly, Emma, Tracing Your Ancestors Using The Census, Pen & Sword, 2019 ed., pp46, 48. [3] Jolly, Emma, Tracing Your Ancestors, p48

Multitasking does not work for everyone

In this high tech age we are used to multitasking especially since smart phones came into our lives. I have had a smart phone since 2012 and I wonder how I coped without it and my Tablet before and yet it has also meant I am a little more prone to multitasking especially when watching tv. Instead of fully engaging with the screen a little voice says ooh check your social media or I wonder if Amazon has such and such in stock. Although in saying that I do have lots of down time from my devices but just this small example shows that even watching tv has become less of a mindful experience and more in a series of things that we can do at the same time such as conversing with people, shopping, checking Instagram etc. But this type of multitasking is not what I want to write about, I wish to discuss multitasking in our work lives.

In a previous blog I had written about living in or out of alignment with your true values and how having given up my role in Local Government I was finally living in alignment with my values and had started back on my paths of coaching and genealogy. I was then approached to do my role once more for a few weeks which turned into five months but is about to finish up at the end of October. I took on the role for 25 hours a week so that I still had time in my life to pursue my other activities and as I had already decided that I would have a portfolio career of different streams, it seemed it would all work out. What I didn’t take into consideration was that also during this period I would relocate and have to organise a move into an apartment that I did not physically see until I arrived with all my belongings, due to being in the world’s longest city in lockdown, Melbourne. So between the stressors of meeting Local Government legislative deadlines and packing up and organising a move, it left little brain space for my own businesses. I kept up one session a week coaching with my own life coach to ensure I was somewhat engaged in that role and when I could I did small amounts of genealogical research for people but predominantly I struggled to engage to multitask in three different streams of work.

Within my Local Government role I was at times multitasking between important documents and in business that seems to be the norm but equally from a mindfulness perspective, juggling numerous tasks at once can mean none are getting the proper attention they deserve and mistakes can occur if swapping and changing too often. There is an inordinate amount of pressure put on people to achieve many results within a timeframe and this means work/life balance becomes work/work instead of what it should be, life/work balance. I truly enjoyed working remotely with my former colleagues and the work I produced was interesting and I’m proud of my achievements but it is time once more to re find my zen and my true paths.

My life coach stated last week that if we steer from our path we are not starting again from scratch we are coming from a point in the middle. She must have read my mind as I was feeling I had steered so far from my path that I was back at zero but then I reminded myself that I am never at zero as I have 18 years of experience in genealogy, I trained as a life coach 13 years ago and have been using various other therapies for just as long. I might have veered off my path for a while but soon I will start to steer myself back on track. Working within my two different fields might take some doing and it may be at times that I am more invested in one field than the other but having different options means I can keep refreshed in my work. It is like writing blogs. Some days I have an idea for a coaching blog like today and other days the call for genealogy or history is strong. Working for yourself gives you flexibility to essentially being able to embrace what you feel like doing on any given day.   

Doing the work to find what I truly valued meant I discovered multitasking wasn’t something I wished to keep as a constant in my life. Although I wish to have different businesses, I would not work on them both on the same day. To separate them is to work mindfully. This means I can nurture them both by giving each the time and love they deserve.