Blog to Book: An interview with popular mom blogger Julie R. Harrison

As I head into my first full year of blogging, I have learned a few things:

  • Limit the bathroom references. People read blogs while eating.
  • Stop joking about alcohol consumption. I’m starting to get funny looks from the carpool moms.
  • Always give your husband final review when he is included in an entry (at least that’s what the marriage counselor has been suggesting).

But perhaps the most important lesson is that bloggers are people too. We have dreams. We get our feelings hurt when people leave snarky comments. And we all secretly hope that some big shot editor from New York will discover our untapped genius and offer a six figure book deal without question.

Why, yes. Bloggers can be a little delusional as well. I blame the wine.

So today I’m interviewing fellow blogger (Mothers of Brothers Blog) and newly-published author, Julie R. Harrison. Her debut book, “Mom’s Had a Rough Day,” can be found on and she graciously agreed to detail her adventures in publishing for Chicago Parent.

You self-published. Why?

I initially tried the route of working with traditional publishers. However, they refuse writing submitted by individuals; they want you to use an agent. No agent would talk to me-I kept running into a brick wall. After six months of rejection, I decided to do it myself.

What was your biggest obstacle?

Money. I thought it would be insanely expensive to self-publish. It was much more reasonable than I expected.

Let’s talk money then. What did it cost?

Prices vary by company, but I used Create Space for the sole reason that it’s a division of Amazon, so the book is sold on Amazon, using a print-on-demand service. Upfront, I paid 0. That included my ISBN number (the book’s unique identifying number so it can be sold), cover design (which I love), and a few rounds of minor changes. That fee does NOT include any professional editing services, which would add another ,000 to the cost. (*Author’s note: To hire an artist to illustrate a children’s book can cost around ,000.)

How long did it take?

I started the process late summer (all the content was fully written at this point) with a personal goal of having it available for sale by Christmas. Amazon had it listed the day after Thanksgiving.

Were you pleased with the service?

Absolutely. They held my hand every step of the way and were incredibly helpful. They were also spot-on for their timelines.

What have you done as far as marketing?

That’s the biggest difference between having an agent and big publishing house in your corner. I must do 100 percent of the marketing myself. Create Space does offer minimal promotions (press releases, etc.) but that would increase the cost by another 0. So far, I have promoted the book on my blog, had a book signing event at a local bookstore, and am currently submitting my book to various magazine editors (Real Simple, People, etc.) for review. I still need to do more!

What drove you to write this particular book?

I wrote the book that I would want to read. It’s a humor book based on my experiences as a mother. A lot of books by parents tend to be preachy; my book is just the opposite. It’s composed of short essays that you can read in 10 minutes while waiting in the carpool line.

Have you made back your initial investment? Is your book profitable?

Not yet!

Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?

Go for it! It gives me a huge sense of accomplishment to hold the actual book in my hands and know people can buy it and read my words. Many authors who self-published went on to become quite famous, for example John Grisham, Gertrude Stein, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Benjamin Franklin, so you’re in good company.

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