Fam­ily liv­ing e-book fairy­tale

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KELLY DEN­NETT

Be­van Find­lay gifted his wife a tablet com­puter but had no idea it would solve their fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties.

He and Joy were strug­gling to make ends meet while he stud­ied engineering at the Univer­sity of Auck­land.

Mr Find­lay’s stu­dent al­lowance was barely enough to cover the fam­ily’s rent and they lived off ac­com­mo­da­tion sup­ple­ments and fam­ily tax cred­its.

They were un­able to af­ford to live in Auck­land so Mrs Find­lay stayed in Hamil­ton and looked af­ter their two chil­dren, Kiara, 4, and Zach, 5, while Mr Find­lay stud­ied.

Mr Find­lay gave his wife a tablet to keep her com­pany in Fe­bru­ary last year.

Mrs Find­lay be­gan down­load­ing chil­dren’s books online and it wasn’t long be­fore the for­mer video pro­ducer had her light­bulb mo­ment.

‘‘The chil­dren’s books weren’t of a great qual­ity and I re­alised I could prob­a­bly do bet­ter,’’ she says.

They be­gan pro­duc­ing chil­dren’s books in April last year with Mr Find­lay as the tech­no­log­i­cal brains and Mrs Find­lay as the writer.

‘‘It was scary and ex­cit­ing,’’ she says.

‘‘We didn’t even have the money to pay for a do­main name.

‘‘We knew it was an in­vest­ment, we just didn’t know if it was go­ing to pay off.’’

Mrs Find­lay fell in love with self-pub­lish­ing re­gard­less.

‘‘It gave me some­thing to be cre­ative with and look for­ward to each day and even if we weren’t mak­ing any money I felt like I was con­tribut­ing to so­ci­ety,’’ Mrs Find­lay says.

They earned US$126 within their first month.

They were de­lighted with the ‘‘pocket money’’ but within six weeks they’d earned more than $7000 in roy­al­ties alone.

Petal’s First Win­ter was ranked No 1 in the Ama­zon chil­dren’s books cat­e­gory on Christ­mas Day 2012 and Mrs Find­lay was ranked 165 out of 80,000 au­thors.

By the end of the sum­mer they’d made $10,000.

The Find­lays moved to Avon­dale in March and their fam­ily is much hap­pier.

Mr Find­lay’s grades are high and the kids are bet­ter be­haved.

They have 66 books un­der their belt and another three due out later this year and are now fo­cus­ing their ef­forts on teach­ing oth­ers to be suc­cess­ful self-pub­lish­ers – and how it doesn’t need to be ex­pen­sive.

They’re host­ing their sec­ond full-day workshop in Novem­ber.

‘‘We only spent $35 but now we can live in Auck­land and our kids can go to a pri­vate school,’’ Mrs Find­lay says.

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