Where to get the Book of Boff published?

(165 Posts)
BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 14:55:53

As some of you may know from other threads, or from being sent bits of my housekeeping book to help you out, I have written a domestic manual for those short of time and money that I'd like to get published. I did a lot of research into pitches, wrote what I think is a good one, and susequently approached Darley Anderson, a literary agency, and also Dorling Kindersley, the publisher, and have got absolutely nowhere (not that I expected to, tbh). Not even a standard 'thank you for your email' response. I would welcome any advice people care to give me on how to move this on, as I think it would be a real shame if it never saw the light of day.

BeatriceLaBranche Mon 14-Feb-11 15:57:12

I need samples - the most useful ones grin

Seriously, I hope someone helps you soon.

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 16:39:51

What type of content would help? Cleaning schedules/time management/monthly menu plans/deluttering/surviving high days and holiays? Shopping lists, packing lists, printing out your own family planner? Tell me your biggest domestic woe and I can probably find a section to help.

BeatriceLaBranche Mon 14-Feb-11 17:07:15

Pretty much everything but decluttering, I am good at that at least.

I would like to know how to be more organised, get out the door in the morning without tears and tantrums. How to keep the house clean, whilst having an open fire and children.

Anything really.

BeatriceLaBranche Mon 14-Feb-11 17:07:57

Losing weight whilst doing the above would be genius.

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 18:00:45

Yup, it has all that, even a nod in the direction of the weight thing for those so inclined. Email me at boffinmum at hotmail dot co dot uk and I will see what I can do.

See, everyone wants this book and nobody will publish it! And if I self-publish I will be Uncool.

BeatriceLaBranche Mon 14-Feb-11 19:02:20

I will give impartial opinion!

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 19:04:41

In that case I will attach a feedback form as well. Insult it as freely as you like! wink

midnightexpress Mon 14-Feb-11 19:09:21

Do you have a blog? It seems that pretty much everyone getting a deal these days blogs. And your book sounds as if it would be good blog material. I'd try that first - if you can pull in some fans then it will show publishers that there is a market for your book. Use FB and Twitter to pull in fans/readers.

The trouble with non-fiction is that it is relatively expensive to produce (more highly illustrated, non-standard formats, shorter print runs etc) so I think you'd be well advised to show people as clearly as possible that it's qa winner.

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 19:11:55

Aha, excellent idea.

<runs off to start blog>
<realises she's not sure how>

I'll be back for any tips you care to give me on this later.

midnightexpress Mon 14-Feb-11 19:12:59

Ah, now there I can't help you I'm afraid grin.


CarrieABag Mon 14-Feb-11 19:14:22

Can you get some "names" to endorse your book?
Publishers like expert/celeb links.

No disrespect, but targetting DK is aiming very high. Lots of other lesser known publishers to try - one approach to one publisher is nothing in this business.

Keep knocking on doors. Remember that JK Rowling had some rejections before she was published and they are still kicking themselves .

sethstarkaddersmackerel Mon 14-Feb-11 19:15:20

getting a blog is easy - just go to wordpress.com and sign up.

CarrieABag Mon 14-Feb-11 19:18:18

Maybe try a pitch to serialise excerpts in the first instance in a women's magazine or Sunday newspaper mag?

Or find a journo to write up a "organisation for the modern woman" type article using your own vivid been to hell and back anedotes. May attract the interest of a publisher.

CarrieABag Mon 14-Feb-11 19:19:22

P.S. You're right that self-publishing is usually a very bad idea.

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 20:24:52

This is all brilliant. grin

<kicks self for not posting about this before>

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 21:08:50

<busy on wordpress>

Yes, I think I looked at that for an agent and so on but got nowhere.

theyoungvisiter Mon 14-Feb-11 21:29:20

Is your proposal good? Do you know how to write a non-fiction proposal and what to include?

At a minimum it should include:
1) Pitch/concept
2) Sample chapter[s]
3) Chapter breakdown/detailed contents overview
4) A short biography of you, explaining why you are the right person to write this (here is the place to slip in your hugely popular blog with 000,000 followers)
5) Information about the market and a list of competitor titles, explaining why yours is different/fills a gap in the market

A proposal normally runs to about 15-25 pages and they are a real art.

If you've done your research properly on point 5 you should already have a looooong list of publishers who do exactly this type of book. You don't always need an agent for non-fiction, but it can still help, so it's a good idea to find out who reps the authors of these books (it often says in the acknowledgements, or google, or as a last resort try phoning the publisher and asking).

Also do keep an eye on the bookseller rights deals as they can be a goldmine of information about who is buying what, where, and they give specific names which is very helpful when you are addressing the letters.

Good luck! It's bloody tough getting published.

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 21:35:41

Youngvisitor, that is more or less what I have done. I have pitched academic books before (successfully) so used the same structure for this pitch and it seems pretty similar to what you are suggesting. However I think I need to spend more time on the rival publications, as you say, so I will put some work in there.

<scuttles off excitedly to blog, which now has three pages!>

theyoungvisiter Mon 14-Feb-11 21:40:47

Oh good! Sorry if my post was a bit patronising - people often don't realise how different it is writing a fiction pitch and a non-fiction proposal - but it sounds like you have it nailed.

I think the blog is a really good idea - publishers are usually enormously impressed by connected, promotion-savvy authors.

But mainly they will be wanting a USP - a quirk - an angle. Something which makes this particular book different from all the other housekeeping books out there. This is where point five comes in - you have to illustrate why they need to publish this particular book.

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 22:59:10

Done my blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Very enjoyable process it was too. grin
Two posts on there already. Rising dawn header, very tasteful and naturalistic.

How do I do the Twitter/FB publicising thing?

whethergirl Mon 14-Feb-11 23:03:13

Could I have a link to your blog please BoffinMum?

BoffinMum Mon 14-Feb-11 23:42:44

Um, don't know how to link to a blog, not sure it would be appropriate to post it here as that feels like free advertising, and not sure whether I would out myself again and consequently be very annoying to MNTowers as I beg them to delete things later on. Advice on any or all of these matters?

theyoungvisiter Tue 15-Feb-11 07:45:23

you could put a link on your profile if you want people on this thread to view it, and then you could delete it from your profile yourself afterwards?

But completely understand if you want to stay anon!

Are you a member of facebook and twitter already? If so, obviously you just start linking and tweeting your blog entries. If not, well, to be honest I would concentrate on getting a following for your blog first by getting friends and family to view it and comment. Then when you've got a small following, you create your facebook and twitter IDs and start talking about your blog on there, invite your friends to friend/follow you, friend/follow related pages and celebrities, and hope that strangers join in.

midnightexpress Tue 15-Feb-11 08:27:54

PM us with the address?

sethstarkaddersmackerel Tue 15-Feb-11 10:06:42

I think if a whole bunch of MNers are begging you for the address of your blog because we think it sounds like it is stuffed with useful info, MNTowers could not possibly object smile

that is very different from a non-MNer swanning in and posting a link completely unsolicited IMO.

if you can't work out how to link just tell us the name and we will find it.

BoffinMum Tue 15-Feb-11 13:00:44

I have reported the post as a means of bringing it to the attention on MN Towers so they can hopefully give me a bit of advice on this, before I blunder around.

I am actually really enjoying this whole blog thing, it's a lot easier and more satisfying than I realised it could be.

try www.lulu.com

You can publish your own book from there - including setting the price etc etc

My father-in-law did this with his own autobiography and his father's biography - they are both well-known psychotherapists but their memoirs are obviously only relevant to a small field. His books are bought online and he receives regular 'royalties' !

BoffinMum Tue 15-Feb-11 13:36:51

I am still nervous. I reckon that would make even less than academic books do.

midnightexpress Tue 15-Feb-11 13:42:57

Hi Boffin - got your PM. Am in a bit of a rush today, but will try and have a look at it later and give you some feedback. Is it OK to post it here or would you rather I PM you back?

BoffinMum Tue 15-Feb-11 15:32:17

Either would be great.

I am very excited. I seem to be hitting the mother lode. Two other websites are already referring people to my blog, which I didn't expect. It works so much faster than with 'proper' websites. I am starting to get a sense of the real power of social networking, something I was vaguely aware of intellectually but which I think I hadn't properly appreciated, despite my pretensions to know about IT.

However blogs are quite addictive. I am on sick leave and hence have been tweaking it all day. I hope this is the novelty factor! It is worse than MN in this regard!

midnightexpress Tue 15-Feb-11 16:17:07

Oh that's great. I think it's a great way to get feedback on what you're doing too if you can attract people to it. I'll link it from my FB and Twitter pages. I had a quick peek but have both DC home today and have to go out and pick up a car now, but I'll try and get back to you later or tomorrow. It looks like you've done LOADS already! I love your box of last resort - it reminds me of being a girl guide with my pockets full of 10p to make a phone call and bits of string. Fab.

BoffinMum Tue 15-Feb-11 17:01:52

I never got to be a girl guide but I suppose I am there in spirit!

madwomanintheattic Tue 15-Feb-11 17:07:15

linky please grin
<did i miss it?>

BoffinMum Tue 15-Feb-11 17:10:55

If anyone has any advice on Twitter I am all ears. I think I may have managed to Tweet and I have copied some of the lovely Nigella's followed list to look all cool and meeja but I am still in the dark about most of it. Found MN Tweets though! Actually interesting, unlike a lot of what's on there. grin

madwomanintheattic Tue 15-Feb-11 17:29:14

can't help you with twitter <technophobe> but am loving the Box of Last Resort (ran out of milk yesterday) and social accountancy aspects of the pta. grin <came home from work yesterday to make and decorated blardy valentines/ thinking day cupcakes for the guides party>

am right out of the loop on uk mags/ sunday supplements etc, but am assuming the austerity/ sensible shoes angle is de rigeur?

helloimhere Tue 15-Feb-11 17:39:14

Need a link to the blog.......please please please.

BoffinMum Tue 15-Feb-11 18:00:11

Austerity Housekeeping OK you lot, here it is. Hope MNTowers don't mind. Please post some comments so it doesn't look so new!

BoffinMum Tue 15-Feb-11 18:02:04

Austerity today usually means either growing your own turnips or swapping massage oils for a non-branded type. Or alternatively prostrating yourself recycling things that were never meant to be recycled. I think it can be so much more.

MrsSnaplegs Tue 15-Feb-11 20:19:59

Love the blog will add comments when on a main computer not phone! Good luck I will def buy book!

sethstarkaddersmackerel Tue 15-Feb-11 21:12:49

Boff I love you, you are so certain about everything. It's like Flora Poste wrote a housekeeping book.
will add comments in near future.

LadyBiscuit Tue 15-Feb-11 21:13:38

I agree with seth - it's great I reckon a blog could be the way to go to the Book of Boff getting published for sure.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Tue 15-Feb-11 21:17:39

I would soooooo buy this book.

BoffinMum Tue 15-Feb-11 21:37:20

Shucks blush

BoffinMum Wed 16-Feb-11 13:02:54

180 views, and I also have five followers on Twitter! grin

I have now reorganised my posts so one will pop up at 9am every day until 5 March. It all links backwards and forwards to Twitter as well, so things seem to appear there automatically. I am wondering if I have covered all the bases now.

MrsSnaplegs Wed 16-Feb-11 16:57:53

Boff - have you thought of touting your blog on Martin Lewis's website forums - almost as powerful as MN grin You may get a few more fans over there!!

BoffinMum Wed 16-Feb-11 17:39:06

oo, oo, that's a fab idea. grin

I am just fanning myself because one of my personal heroines, the Great Sarah Beeny clicked through to my blog (I think). I practically curtsied.

Are there any posts you think I should be doing to add to the content? I've got about 15 lined up and scheduled to appear over the next fortnight but if there's anything people would really like, I could do a special one.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Wed 16-Feb-11 18:00:59

I think when I looked yesterday there was nothing on cleaning; I presume you have done something on that side of household management? would be good anyway - I always have the nagging feeling there are vital cleaning jobs I ought to be doing but which I don't know about and everyone who comes to my house (and cares about such things) will be judging me for not doing.

BoffinMum Wed 16-Feb-11 18:45:19

I have one lined up on spring cleaning due for tomorrow morning, actually. Sometime in March I might start putting regular cleaning routines up there, although strangely grids work less well on there than I would like.

A question about the Martin Lewis site - I have been on there and made a post but I think I would probably have to spend ages getting known before a link would be acceptable (as on here, in fact). Is that everyone else's reading of the situation as well? It would mean less time on MN of course sad

BoffinMum Thu 17-Feb-11 15:02:54

I have put up one or two recipes to cotrrespond with the week 1 menu plans, if anyone is interested. Currently deciding two things. Firstly whether I should start a MN blog as well and link the two, and secondly the wisdom of knocking off a press release at some point about the existence of the Wordpress version of the blog (but as my ol editor would say, 'Who is the celebrity, Boff, and what is the story?' Fails on both counts at the moment!)

midnightexpress Thu 17-Feb-11 15:54:00

I'll #ff you on Twitter tomorrow if you like Boffin (if I can figure out how to do it...). I think it's just a case of writing a glowing reference and then hashtagging it, isn't it?

<twitter ignoramus>

plupervert Thu 17-Feb-11 16:22:49

MN itself publishes a number of books; have you pitched to MNHQ?

Disclaimer: bit of a long shot, as housekeeping is not strictly baby/child related, and it could annoy feminists (like me!).... but it's worth a thought.

Or a product placement on the Flylady site....

Well done on getting your blog sorted so quickly!

BoffinMum Thu 17-Feb-11 20:59:33

Vot is ff and hashtag? <duh emoticon>

I did do a list the people you talk on Twitter to most thing earlier and Sarah Beeny came up again. <girl crush emoticon>

Can't imagine MN would be interested in publishing this as they do books that include lots of our quotes.

MrsSnaplegs Fri 18-Feb-11 06:52:31

Boff yes the ML site would poss want you there for a while. I will pop back there next week and post for you as I have a few posts to my name so not classed as a newbie although haven't been for a while. We have family staying at mo so busy couple of days!

theyoungvisiter Fri 18-Feb-11 07:37:24

Boff, a hashtag is just anything preceded by the #key, which turns it into a searchable link for other posts with that tag.

You make up your own or use existing ones, and it's one way of finding people with similar interests to you, other than noticing them in other peoples lists.

They're often used for games - for eg there was one trending recently that was #publishingmyths and people were posting funny things like "Authors dont need 2kno gramma and stuff that is wot copyeditors is 4 #publishingmyths"

So you could hashtag your posts #housekeepingtips or something - keep an eye on other posters in the area to find out what they're using.

If a hashtag is used a lot in the same day then it's called "trending" and it appears in a box to the right of your timeline, it will say something like "trending in the UK" and beneath will be things like #justinbeiber #bigfatgypsyweddings #youresexy

etcetcetc. The ones trending are usually rather depressing!

#FF is a hashtag which is used to suggest people to follow - it means Follow Friday.

The idea is you tweet the name of a person you follow, who you think the rest of your followers should follow. You just say something like "#FF boffmum - genius tips for making your life simpler"

Obviously you can't do an #ff of yourself since all your followers already follow you!

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 08:40:49

Mrs Snaplegs, thanks for that, it would be really helpful as I just can't work up a community membership there as well as engage properly on MN and TBH my heart is here (I do have a FT job as well, beieve it or not).

Theyoungvisitor, That is very helpful. I might try that with the wild food people and also parenthacks and see what happens.

Everyone, I am so not a yummy mummy wanting to give out muffin recipes, do you think a feminst housekeeping angle might go down well, or are people determined to stay in the kitchen with their cardies on these days (present company excepted, of course).

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 08:51:00

BoffinMum - I don't think there is a huge market for books on housekeeping; I say this as it is a genre that interests me and I have several, which I like, but none of them have sold well.

You might want to try being a little bit more analytical and a bit less anecdotal, in order to increase your book's universal appeal?

plupervert Fri 18-Feb-11 09:49:47

My feminist housekeeping angle is not liking it, and wanting it to be as easy as possible. An "analytical" approach, as Bonsoir says, is also inherently feminist, as it makes it a strategic exercise, to be carried out by any person with a brain (not just a woman, but a man or child as well!)

P.S. Cardies are no good for housekeeping, as the current non-closing ones ("waterfall" and so on) dangle and tangle while scrubbing is being done.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 09:53:53

Were I to write a book on housekeeping, I would have chapters with titles like "Make or Buy: an analysis of outsourcing", where I would reach conclusions about the housekeeping tasks that can (eg ironing) and cannot (eg cooking) be outsourced without impacting family ties.

<sad MBA/consulting personality>

plupervert Fri 18-Feb-11 09:59:52

"Sad", but helpful. And talks up to the reader, to boot. smile

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 10:01:22

I am pondering how it would be presented as a book that your dh or MIL could give you for Xmas without you thinking 'Oh fuck off!'

I think it comes down to aspiration: Nigella's Domestic Goddess book sold because it sold the dream of 'you too can be a domestic goddess.'

maybe you need to think about the aspirational figure that this book is promising you can become - who is the person we all secretly want to be that this book will turn us into?

this issue relates to the feminism one because the whole point about this figure is that s/he is not a giggly Boden embellished cardigan wearing cupcake baker; s/he is a busy, competent, leader, a decision maker and organiser at home and possibly at work too. S/he is balanced, calm and fulfilled. (Flora Poste.) S/he may well be a feminist but this is not her key attribute; you have to package it in a way that will not put off feminists but my hunch is that by aiming it too directly that way you will make it too niche.

when your MIL gives you the book for Xmas you have to not think 'oi, are you telling me I don't keep my house clean?', you have to think 'Ah, the Rational Housekeeper, [or whatever], ah yes, that sounds like me, I am very rational.'

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 10:04:30

I want a book on housekeeping that is a reference book. So that when I ask myself questions about how to tackle housekeeping tasks about which I am inexperienced, I can get a short, well-presented argument on the different viable scenarii I could contemplate that will enable me to make a rapid, informed decision about how to proceed in own particular circumstances.

MinuteLaidMemoo Fri 18-Feb-11 10:08:12

Boffin, I love your blog!!

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 10:11:03

I don't like Austerity Housekeeping as a title. It puts me off through being too depressing-sounding.

you want your housekeeping to be financially- and chronologically efficient not just because you haven't got much of either but also because it is an index of how brilliant you are it. It's more flattering to the reader and less moany.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 10:13:13

"Austerity" worked for "Austerity Mum" (ie totally tongue in cheek) but I agree with Sethstarkadder - it's no good if it is even a little bit serious.

MarshaBrady Fri 18-Feb-11 10:18:13

This is interesting. There are women who are aware of feminist theory etc but feel very central and not political within society. (oh hang on that's me...)

Who are intelligent and like to be efficient. (My top tip is get two cleaners in at 8am for speed and efficiency). But are doing more at home due to ease etc

There are so may images with blondes in flowers cooking cupcakes. Perfect life yada. There is a gap for something for something less ridiculous.

But agree don't make it dour, about austerity or anything negative.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 10:20:51

to build on what Bonsoir said about wanting a reference book, I think what I want is both a reference book and a philosophy.

some analogies:
River Cottage Meat Book
How To Eat
and the first two Trinny and Susannah What Not To Wear books.

the above have both sections of longer texts that set out the philosophy (and this is where Boff's ability to write well comes into its own) and bits that you keep going back to.
The philosophy section has to induce feelings of 'ah yes, of course, I never saw it quite like that before but it makes sense now you come to think of it!'
And the reference bits have to be what you refer to when something happens (a pipe bursts, your child starts school) and you think 'Help, what do I need to do now?'/'What do I need to put in place to manage this situation as brilliantly as I manage everything else?'

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 10:25:19

Something I learned quite early on from living in a "blended" family was that it was absolutely vital to have an annual review of our household organisation - it is so easy to go on and on doing the same thing month in, month out when circumstances have in fact changed and you need to re-engineer the way your household functions. So I would have a chapter all about that - how to identify and evaluate all the constraints upon your household, and how you fit housekeeping into that so that it all runs smoothly.

midnightexpress Fri 18-Feb-11 13:26:07

Is it a Mrs Beeton for the 21st century sort of thing? Household Management (which also sounds v dour). Instead of 'How to hire and fire servants' you might have 'How to get your DC to clean up their own f-ing mess'. I like the idea above of the How to Eat/River Cottage approach that is part take-to-bed read and part well-thumbed how-to reference guide.

Bonsoir, you sound super-organised!

plupervert Fri 18-Feb-11 13:34:58

"How to get your DC to clean up their own f-ing mess"

I would dearly love one of these for DH. DS seems to be getting it with regard to tidying up (especially when it puts off Bedtime).

midnightexpress Fri 18-Feb-11 13:41:23

Ha pluperv, DP and I had a blazing row about just that this morning, which is perhaps why I had tidying up on my mind grin

FoiledAgain Fri 18-Feb-11 14:08:30

To be honest I have had it up to here with people wanting to tell me, via assorted media, how to organise myself domestically. I'm really hoping the whole domestic perfection thing, whatever form it takes, will soon have run its course.

muddleduck Fri 18-Feb-11 14:21:27


when on earth did you have time to do all this?

<impressed emoticon>

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 14:26:43

This is absolutely brilliant, honest feedback. It's like having the best focus group in the world. Halleluia! grin

I am now playing with the idea of Analytical Housekeeping (if a little daunted at the notion of moving the entire blog across as it's taken a massive amount of work already).

What do we all think of 'The Rational Housekeeper' as a title? And base it more on business models for analysing tasks and performance? Nicking formats from MBA books where appropriate? Case studies and suchlike?

Does the style of what I have done already lend itself to that as a concept, i.e. if I plonked that on the blog instead of Austerity Housekeeping, would all the existing text and philosophy look out of place (especially the editorial bit on Wilena Hitching).

Does the slightly big-sisterish style of the posts fit with that concept as well, or would people like Bonsoir be wanting to read something more collaborative rather than instructive/didactic?

Extra chapters are the easiest part once I have got the voice right, so it seems there are already two missed opportunities spotted, one about delegation and one about managing difficult colleagues (aka one's children).

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 14:29:59

Foiled, I am with you on that but I have tried to write about efficiency rather than perfection as I think women have been sold a crock.

Muddleduck, I wrote the book on holiday in August (it was sitting there in my head in complete form, so not all that challenging), refined it after getting comments from a couple of dozen MN people at the end of last year, and then started up the corresponding blog this week whilst on sick leave and a bit immobile, following a suggestion on this very thread.

FoiledAgain Fri 18-Feb-11 14:34:19

Well for this punter anythng that managed not to remotely sound hectoring and smug would be good...
So analytical might appeal more.

But I think the stuff about dusting the books and wiping the elctrical sockets etc wouldn't sit well with that. That just feels patronising at the moment.

plupervert Fri 18-Feb-11 14:36:26

"managing difficult colleagues"

I don't think of DS as a colleague, but as a troublesome client!

What about Rational Domestic Science, or the The Analytical Home/ The Home Analysed....

That's just brainstorming, btw; please don't take those as final suggestions, as there is sure to be something to annoy, still there.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 14:39:53

I don't think anyone wants to be patronised, so the "big sister" voice is quite difficult to pull off.

I clearly prefer analytical tools. And if they are lifted from business wisdom, all well and good.

Negotiation analysis and getting to win-win scenarii with family members would be good...

plupervert Fri 18-Feb-11 14:40:43

Also, have you thought about guerilla-leafleting the Ideal Home exhibiton with links to your blog?

This would cost, of course, but if you want to invest, this might be one outlet. I am speaking of investment with the aim of getting a following and going back to publishers with that.

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 14:46:30

Bonsoir could you have a quick look at the blog and tell me if that counts as too big sister for your demographic?

And other people, can you tell me if you actually like the big sister voice? (Some of the reviewers responded to this very well and saw it as a USP, as some people have on this therad).

It's actually hard as buggery to talk about housekeeping and not sound didactic, by the way, as everyone has their own system and you are essentially promoting your own.

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 14:47:47

I would certainly be happy to leaflet the exhibition, I had already had ideas about doing the underground like they did for the Millennium trilogy, but that might be less useful.

DirtyMartini Fri 18-Feb-11 14:51:07

Only skimmed, is there a link to blog? Or could I have a PM, please? (typing whilst pumping milk)

FoiledAgain Fri 18-Feb-11 14:52:40

Is it aimed at women? Why? Aren't we already floundering under a barrage of advice?

Any mileage in trying to make it aimed at any adult in the home?

Would make a change for something to appeal to men as well that wasn't larky and ho ho Top Gear style...

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 14:54:54

Personally I find the blog a difficult medium for something I wish were a reference book. Blogs are essentially diaries; I don't really think the content and format match.

Have you read Rachel Simhon?

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 14:55:10

It is technically unisex but I was aware mostly women would be reading it. In the book there's a whole section on how to divide the running of the home according to the proportion of hours spent earning each parent does.

Austerity Housekeeping

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 14:57:15

I haven't, Bonsoir, but the cover would have put me off tbh. I should probably read it for research, although what I mainly do is read historic housekeeping books and pick out the bits that are timeless.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 14:58:14

BoffinMum - surely the division of labour in the home is dependent on more criteria than the hours each partner spends earning (ie time available)? How about skills? Preferences? Financial ability to outsource? Compatibility with other tasks?

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 15:06:26

Basically I analysed it like this. If mum works 40 hours a week outside the home, and dad works 20 hours a week, and there are 9 hours of domestic chores that need doing, then dad should undertake 6 hours and mum 3 hours. What they do and how they decide which tasks to take on is a subject for negotiation.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 15:06:29

ah now I am someone that loves the bossy tone and would not be interested in tools lifted from business, though I am prepared to be convinced.

it's interesting looking at what else Amazon suggests when you click on Bonsoir's link. I hate the pastel-ness of some of them, and that 'Time management for manic mums' title just makes me think of that thread the other day about dreadful words women use/that are used about women.

FoiledAgain Fri 18-Feb-11 15:08:32

I'm not sure how much say authors get in the final cover design, judging by the experiences of a couple of acquaintances.

Publishers think women will buy pastel-coloured books.

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 15:10:28

I think that's where I am coming from, Seth. Women are being rapidly devalued as I see it, and there is an expectation that we engage in private domestic lives while the chaps are off making large scale decisions and influencing everything. I once said to my DH, "If you see me in a fluffy pink outfit vacantly buying ornaments, shoot me" and that was the point at which he sent me off to do a PhD.

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 15:11:15

Last time I wrote a book I designed my own cover. It was very easy, and their designer finished it off and put it in the right format.

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 15:12:34

I thought Austerity Housekeeping would look good in mock brown paper, like Jocasta Innes 'The Thrifty Decorator'. If we keep the Austerity thing, that is.

pointydog Fri 18-Feb-11 15:15:53

But that's a very patronising sentence. He had to send you off to do a phd? Was that tongue in cheek?

And will any men buy a book on housekeeping? I can't see it. It's helping to perpetuate the idea that the woman does the bulk of the housework. Not only does she do most of the housework, she reads about it in her spare time.

plupervert Fri 18-Feb-11 15:17:58

Could your "Boffin" persona be used for the title instead?

Boffin's guide to the home, something like that?

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 15:20:12

BoffinMum - I'm afraid that your division of domestic labour doesn't stand up to scrutiny at all - I think it is way more complicated than that...

theyoungvisiter Fri 18-Feb-11 15:20:35

"Last time I wrote a book I designed my own cover. It was very easy, and their designer finished it off and put it in the right format."

I can safely say, that would never happen with a mainstream consumer publisher.

At least, not unless you're Stephen King, in which case you could probably do what you want.

Authors do get to make suggestions, but the final say is with the publisher really, and there's no guarantee the suggestions will be listened to!

DirtyMartini Fri 18-Feb-11 15:42:59

Theyoungvisiter is right, absolutely. Not your job as author.

DirtyMartini Fri 18-Feb-11 15:50:19

PM or link, anyone? Sorry, if there is a link above I keep missing it.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 16:06:16

I think men would buy a book on housekeeping that used models lifted from business but it would probably have to be a book aimed squarely at men grin

men on the whole (though I'm sure there are exceptions) have too much invested in believing there is nothing much to housekeeping. I think the people who would buy this book would be those who have tried to do it and found it hard, or at least have found that it takes some thought.

DonaAna Fri 18-Feb-11 16:10:00

I'd love the efficiency angle. I'd buy something that explains me how to minimize time spent on housework and maximize impact.

I'd love a modern housekeeping manual. I'd love a subversive feminist angle. I'd love a 21st century Mrs Beeton. I don't want any management slang in something I read during my free time /buy with my own money. Boff, I think your blog uses too much passive voice and is slightly - not sure - boring or patronising. You should read very carefully Nigella's How to Eat, I think she hss mastered the style of writing deliciously about something that has been done to death (do we really need another basic cookbook?).

I went to your blog to find housekeeping shortcuts - and I found a post about how to vacuum bookshelves (something I've decided never to do, or if needed. definitely something I'd outsource). Love the menu ideas though, I think you are on to something with them. To keep reading, I'd need a how to do a quick and efficient weekly home cleaning.

pointydog Fri 18-Feb-11 16:14:37

Men who are interested in reading stuff based on business models aren't interested in doing the housework.

bronze Fri 18-Feb-11 16:16:18

Now I'm pretty sure it doesn't advise pregnant women with spd to decorate bathrooms

MarshaBrady Fri 18-Feb-11 16:34:45

My favourite book for cooking is Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It is beautifully done, informative, but is so warm and lovely to read that it feels less like a cook book than something lifestyle-y.

Bonsoir's link is the nicest looking of housekeeping books. But the others, the pink ones, make me want to run away covering my eyes.

theyoungvisiter Fri 18-Feb-11 16:46:53

Dirtymartini - see Boffinmums' post of 14:55:10 for a link

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 17:15:36

DonaAna, your wish is very definitely my command.

Weekly cleaning schedule

The thing about Nigella is - well - it's Nigella, making people think they are vaguely inadequate. Along with Martha Stewart, women's glossies and so on. Now Shirley Conran's Superwoman is probably a classic in terms of writing well about something essentially tedious, from a more feminist standpoint, but very much of its time, so a lot of it is like a catalogue of cleaning products with a few juicy quotes thrown in, for example, "Sack the au pair and teach the children to cook instead, it saves effort because you don't change your children every year". That kind of nugget.

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 17:16:19

PMSL Bronze.
Bathroom still looks good and I didn't even have to wash the paintbrushes that time. grin

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 17:54:06

BoffinMum - I think Nigella's key selling point with How To Eat was that she updated traditional recipes for the modern gadget era. I learned to cook with Constance Spry, and very useful that was; Nigella just makes it all so much easier, without forfeiting taste (as Delia does).

Nigella doesn't make me feel inadequate - on the contrary, I feel rather superior as I don't feed my family nearly as much junk as she seems to blush

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 17:56:58

did Katherine Whitehorn ever do a housework book? She did cooking and children.

Mary Beard did The Good Working Mothers Guide in the 80s which has some good stuff on domestic management but too limited to one particular lifestyle.

FoiledAgain Fri 18-Feb-11 18:03:21

How many threads on here complain that men don't do their fair share, or consider any housework as "helping", ie it's really the woman's job?
What sort of a book could make progress here, without being confined to the feminism section of the bookshop?

pointydog Fri 18-Feb-11 18:15:20

A book called How to Have More Sex with your Wife with a big chapter on how women feel respected and cared for when the man pulls his weight with housely chores and thus will feel more amorous towards him.

plupervert Fri 18-Feb-11 18:44:05

Yes, indeed, pointydog. Unfortunately, publishers would probably consider that to be sexual harassment and feminist provocation - no?


pointydog Fri 18-Feb-11 18:49:22

I'd've thought most publishers just go for big sellers.

My serious-face answer would be that no book on housework could make progress in this area.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 18:51:19

Actually, I want a book that is called "How to do your housework to a much higher standard in much less time than you ever thought possible".

DirtyMartini Fri 18-Feb-11 18:51:26

Actually, I bet Collins would love it.

DirtyMartini Fri 18-Feb-11 18:53:27

Xpost, sorry - I meant Pointy's idea

TYV, thanks for pointing me to link. Will follow it when not on iPod -too fiddly.

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 20:47:48

Bonsoir, I think we need a new wave of technology to help us with that. Self cleaning windows (Pilkington Glass), robot vacuums (Roomba), special machines to suck up dust like in operating theatres and the like, anti-bacterial toilets, central vaccuuming systems, laundry collection pipes, shirt ironing machines and rotary ironers, and so on. All these things exist and could perfectly well be incorporated into the modern home by developers, but ultimately we do not demand them, and instead spend our lives dusting and scrubbing, hoovering and wiping. Strange, when you think about it.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 20:51:06

I send shirts out for ironing and they are ironed by machine smile. And they come back far better ironed than I or anyone I have ever employed to iron can manage.

I also adore the no-commitment outsourcing aspect - I just drop the shirts at the cleaners (25m from my front door, that I pass 10 times a day) whenever I like, and pick up 24 hours later.

I love machines that do housework!

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 20:57:36

I used to iron my dad's shirts for money as a teenager and am consequently quite good at it but today I was ironing a shirt for dh and thinking thank goodness he only has to wear a suit to work occasionally....

these ironing machines, do they not break the buttons any more? I remember shirts with lots of half-buttons snapped off.

I was reading an interview with the Edwardian Farm presenters the other day and it was striking that when they were asked if they would have liked to have lived then, the men were a bit wistful about it but the woman was quite emphatic that she wouldn't.
The amount of drudgery in housework before washing machines and vacuum cleaners and central heating must have been astonishing.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Feb-11 21:00:55

No, the only issue is that the top buttons fall off a bit more quickly (but only after a year or so) than when the ironing is done in-house. But I can live with that!

I just love no commitment outsourcing of housework. My idea of hell is the FT housekeeper underfoot all day, which is the norm round these parts.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 21:12:09

I can imagine French housekeepers being very good at being disapproving.

sethstarkaddersmackerel Fri 18-Feb-11 21:15:58

not that I imagine that that is what would be your problem with having one smile

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 21:58:03

The problem with outsourcing is that often you have to be in a metroplitan area to do so. There are very many parts of the UK where it is nigh on impossible to drop shirts off for ironing. You can do it round by me but you have to wait a week to get them back, and it's very pricey.

YakovsNubianBlingExplosion Fri 18-Feb-11 22:15:21

Oh, just came back to read your blog and the link isn't working (it's Dirty here, btw). Is it just me, or is it down at the moment?

BoffinMum Fri 18-Feb-11 22:20:58
YakovsNubianBlingExplosion Fri 18-Feb-11 22:23:28

That works. But now DD is crying and I must re-enter the darkened room ... <thwarted>

BoffinMum Tue 08-Mar-11 22:35:25

OK, further advice needed now. No publishers flocking to the door, blog views down to 12 or so a day now, not sure where to go next with this.

plupedantic Tue 08-Mar-11 23:09:33

Er - give it a bit of time?

Link to your blog on your MN profile page, on your professional/department homepage, send Easter greetings out with the blog address on it, the Ideal Home Exhibition still hasn't taken place...

Please calm down. I know you have been working on this for what seems like ages, but publishing is still excruciatingly, arse-coveringly slow.

BoffinMum Wed 09-Mar-11 14:57:42

Thanks for that. I have put info on my profile page on MN and activated it. I can't really link it to my work identity as I'll probably lose currency there, so this is all happening in my maiden name and in a different part of my digital world. I ma now thinking how to tackle Ideal Home and whether guerilla leafleting is going to help. Does anyone have experience of this?

Will put on my FB if that helps.

plupedantic Wed 09-Mar-11 17:59:05

I imagine the way to start on guerilla leafleting is contacting the exhibition organisers, to find out whether there is an exclusion zone around the exhibition. I wouldn't stand outside the Tube - that is too "normal" a zone for people to be interested in taking anything - whereas people immediately around the exhibition might be tempted by giveaways, being in that maybe-I-might-win-something-since-I-certainly-can't-bloody-afford-this stuff frame of mind.

Speaking of giveaways, can you afford to run a prize giveaway for subscribers, or respondents to a survey (I'm sure you could design a good survey, and publishing/marketing people could be quite interested in that kind of targeted research of your demographic)? The prizes could be things like nice John Lewis cushions or Lakeland vouchers, which could enable you to contact JL/LL to let them know what you are doing, and gain a potential marketing link with them, too.... If you are feeling really bold, you might propose they donate the prize, in return for a link on your blog (but you would have to declare in your privacy policy any info these outsiders would get from participation in the giveaway).

BoffinMum Thu 10-Mar-11 18:42:58

Have spoken to a reliable insider about guerilla leafleting and he advised not to both on the grounds of it being swamped with people doing it already!

I like the idea of a prize, and I sure can write a great survey. My favourite Austerity brands are currently:

Ecover (but only their washing liquid)
Reckett stain removers
Cash's name tapes
Able labels
White company basic range
Tu@ Sainsbury basic range
Farrow and Ball paints
Sara Beeny's home selling website
Homebase gardens

Some of whom have been Tweeting me, actually, and appear to be following me. I suppose I could message them and invite dialogue about marketing opps and prizes.

plupedantic Thu 10-Mar-11 20:02:45

That's further along than a start!

Katisha Thu 10-Mar-11 20:46:43

Farrow and Ball = austerity??

BoffinMum Thu 10-Mar-11 21:07:39

Yes, Katisha, one wall in Farrow and Ball, the rest in Homebase own brand, and your home is gorgeous. wink

BoffinMum Thu 10-Mar-11 21:09:21

I've re-read some of my posts today. They are a bit dull in places. Mumsnet jury please on whether I should gush more generally and pimp the whole thing.

FoiledAgain Thu 10-Mar-11 21:30:15

I'm not sure blogging as a reference book is working.
Blogs are meant to be more personal and more tied to particular events that the blogger experiences day by day.
I also question the validity of prescriptive shopping lists as no family is going to want to eat so precisely what someone else has decreed, taking into accounts likes/dislikes/allergies and all.

I think it should be wittier and more personal like your usual style on here - you can save the reference style for the book - blogs should be a peek into someone's life. More pics too, and the colour of the site is a bit depressing.
Pimp it I reckon.

I did a blog in time for Xmas, nice gifts under £5 and got 2000 hits in a month. No witty prose either, just stuff I'd found on the internet. Maybe try to come up with 'austere buys' to give a reason for people to come to you every day, or household hints? something to make your site 'news'-worthy.

This is my fave blog - beautiful and really interesting and useful, maybe get some ideas from here


catinthehat2 Thu 10-Mar-11 22:30:28

you are SO going to get ripped off

wait till the Myleene Klass Book of Austerity Housekeeping comes out at Christmas....

UnquietDad Thu 10-Mar-11 22:36:20

Sorry I didn't see this before.

Stuff like Facebook/Twitter profile are all very nice as support, but pointless if the book is not publishable. Not publisher is going to say "oh, well, I don't like the book very much, but on the other hand this person does have a great platform..." Sorry to sound brusque about this one, but it really is one of the great publishing myths of the last 10 years!

Have you only tried one agent and one publisher? Try more. Try agents first. Many people try several before they get any interest - even published writers have to shop their books around. Publishers are deluged with stuff, most of it unpublishable and seriously bad.

As others have said, make sure you have a really good businesslike proposal for an agent - it should include sample chapters, a synopsis and a bit about your suitability for writing the book, and it should be very clear about the market for the book too.

plupedantic Fri 11-Mar-11 08:55:35

I snorted aloud at the Myleene Klass Book of Austerity Housekeeping.

plupedantic Fri 11-Mar-11 08:58:48

Only if one were to recycle those horrible (MK) black baby clothes as uniforms for an army of underage servants! Black looks so neat and clean on housekeeping staff, doesn't it, dah-lings! wink

BoffinMum Fri 11-Mar-11 09:00:54

Good advice, folks. I am learning a lot here.

Do you think the book should be all witty and sophisticated as well?? Before, some people seemed to like the bossiness but others hated it. Can you ever please all of the people all of the time?

BTW the pages with the most hits are fashion, box of last resort, and the menu plans!!!

BoffinMum Fri 11-Mar-11 09:01:55

Now there was me thinking the Fatie Price Book of Austerity Housekeeping might be something to worry about. wink

I don't like her baby clothes either. They are very Chanel goes to Primark. <miaow>

BoffinMum Fri 11-Mar-11 12:01:16

Right, the blog now has a new look especially for spring, and a new tagline. So more cheerful generally. I will start writing slightly quirkier posts from now on.

plupedantic Fri 11-Mar-11 13:38:46

Oh, I like the new colours!

BoffinMum Fri 11-Mar-11 19:25:37

blush I have to say I think it looks rather refreshing as well.


Am rapidly rewriting future posts to bring in some of the quintessential Boffin style.

Never let it be said I don't take advice from you lot. grin

BoffinMum Sun 27-Mar-11 15:51:52

Is it me or do the filled in menu planners on Netmums today look incredibly similar to mine on the blog?

plupedantic Sun 27-Mar-11 20:39:27


I guess there isn't much you can do to stop this from happening, apart from asking them to credit you and link to your blog. Pretty poor behaviour though IMO.

plupedantic Sun 27-Mar-11 20:57:19

A bit like Matthew Wright's researchers are said to trawl MN for material...

BoffinMum Sun 27-Mar-11 21:05:04

Is it my imagination? Do they resemble mine? They have been altered a bit. But the principle is the same as aer some of the meals, and not the most obvious at that.

BoffinMum Sun 27-Mar-11 21:05:44

I could always linked to NM and say 'as featured on ...' wink

plupedantic Sun 27-Mar-11 21:58:21

Is it this link? I can't see the planner on your blog you're referring to...?

BoffinMum Sun 27-Mar-11 22:14:30

Yup, the grids are in the book samples I have been sending out to MN people, there are two months' worth now. I had to strip the grids out for the blog as they wouldn't copy and paste.

It's Mylene Klass behind all this, I know. wink

plupedantic Sun 27-Mar-11 22:24:15

Oh, right. I haven't had a book sample, so was confused! I was pretty sure the NM planner wasn't kosher!

BoffinMum Mon 28-Mar-11 13:03:37

Look in the menu planning category and there are loads of menus and shopping lists there on my blog.

BoffinMum Fri 15-Apr-11 22:37:41

Some progress to support ... there is the possibility of self-publishing my oeuvre on Amazon for the Kindle! Yay! Just getting my mates checking out the details, legals and so on before I plunge. I am quite excited about this.

HanoverGirl Thu 19-Apr-12 17:32:31

I think Lulu (and all the other big players) is a really bad idea - mainly because you can never sell the book for a decent price. Much better to upload it to Kindle. They say you can do it yourself but I got a specialist to do mine - with design and layout included - and he was very good but I am sure there are other people out there who can do the same. Self-publication is not a bad option (many books that eventually sold millions started out as self-pubs) and the cheapest way is to go to a company that can get you listed in the main part of Amazon (which Lulu can't). And although Lulu says it's cheap you still have to pay for an illustrator and an editor so it's actually not any cheaper than one of the dedicated companies that help people get their books available as print-on-demand paperbacks. But of course do avoid 'vanity publishers' - not the same thing at all. Whole cost likely to be around £600 (possibly £1,000 all in including decent book cover design, professional layout and uploading ebooki version.

BoffinMum Thu 17-Jan-13 12:48:07

I thought I ought to put down for posterity that the Book of Boff is now published in eBook form, and available as 'Austerity Housekeeping' on Amazon. Cost me £38 to have it converted because I was too lazy to do it myself. It's selling quite well, as eBooks of this type go. The blog has had nearly 70,000 hits and is also popular. Thanks to everyone who gave me advice. grin

Reaa Thu 17-Jan-13 13:40:41

i can have a quick read and give you my honest feedback if you want? Pm ME and will let you have my email address.

Reaa Thu 17-Jan-13 13:41:29

not sure why me was in caps confused

Reaa Thu 17-Jan-13 13:43:10

oooops this was an old thread blush

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