Some things start small, and before they become well known, it can take a community to spread the word.
This is what happened with Rocketspark customer and newly self-published author, Elaine Williams’ new enterprise, in fact it started with something as small as a mouse.
Elaine is originally from Scotland, a place that has inspired many works of literature and her own love for storytelling.
“I studied literature at university. I’ve always loved books and written stories, but, in the past, I never really pursued trying to publish them, it’s always just been for fun,” Elaine said.
She moved to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband and their two children just over two years ago. She hadn’t been here long when a story came to her, somewhat organically.
During her first few months in New Zealand Elaine found herself with a lot of time on her hands.
“It was summer and our neighbours had gone away and asked if I would feed their cat. One morning I went to feed the cat and it had left me a little mouse on the doormat, a wee present.
“A couple of days later I woke up with this little mouse character in my head, it had obviously been on my mind. So, I decided to give the little mouse a different ending, that’s where the story came from,” she explained.
And so, the story of ‘Arturo and the Glitter Glue’ was born.
“It was quite an organic process, the story was just there and it was really fun to write. When I got to the end of it, I kind of thought it was quite a good story so I decided to try and take it further.”
Elaine’s husband, Craig, who she said was entrepreneurial and interested in understanding how you can do things yourself, was really encouraging her to self-publish and get things going.
“It was all about experimenting, learning and not worrying too much about the outcome, but just enjoying the process of what we were doing, understanding how to make a book and how to get it out there.”
Elaine’s two kids are five and seven and Elaine said they love the story and a big part of what they love is to do with the amazing illustrations.
“My Illustrator, Hannah Sames, is amazing. She’s quite young and she doesn’t have kids, so she asked me to send her some photos of toys. I sent her a photo of the kids’ playroom, and she ended up building into the illustrations some of my kids’ favourite toys and some of the drawings that they’d done that were up on our walls.
“I hadn’t directed her to do that, she just pulled it out of the photograph I sent her of random stuff. My kids loved that they could point out their toys along the way,” Elaine said.
Hannah even helped Elaine design her website.
She said the first lot of books were printed in October 2020.
“We kept it small and printed just 300 books with a local company in Tauranga called Kale Print.
“I hadn’t really anticipated how much support you get from people you know and we sold out of the first print run really quickly just through our network.
“Then I had to make a decision, was I really going to push selling the book more commercially, or was it enough just to have created the book?
“We decided to keep going because it was quite interesting and we’d only had the book for a month, so we then had to think about how many books we wanted to print next,” she said.
Elaine wanted to keep the book as local and New Zealand made as much as she could. As well as printing locally and having a New Zealand illustrator, she focused on selling through independent local bookshops, before taking it online. And now she has a New Zealand developed and hosted website too.
“I’m really proud to have published a book that is 100 percent made in New Zealand.”
Elaine said a nice cherry on top was being able to use a Kiwi website provider.
“I made a really basic website originally with a different website builder, it was an American based one that my husband had used before. But, along the way we realised it wasn’t going to give us ecommerce functionality and the ability to track statistics and do more sophisticated things.
“My husband then met one of the Rocketspark team and we thought we’d give it a go.