Unscalable by Gavin Hammar
How to Write and Publish a Children's Book with Martine Hammar

How to Write and Publish a Children's Book with Martine Hammar

My wife, Martine Hammar joins me on the pod for a special episode. She has recently published a children’s book and I chatted to her about the process.

In this episode, Martine talks about:

  • What inspired her to write a children’s book.

  • What message she hopes to convey through her book.

  • Why she decided to self-publish.

  • The process of writing a book, from idea to bookstores.

  • The challenges she faced during the process and how to avoid them.

  • Resources you can use to write your own book.

Links mentioned on the show:

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▶️ Or, watch on YouTube.

Full Transcript:

Gavin Hammar: Martine thanks for joining us on the show. So you're a mom,…

Martine Hammar: Thanks for having me.

Gavin Hammar: you're helping me build story prompts and you start up from the ground up. I'm just curious.

Martine Hammar: Well, for me,…

Gavin Hammar: What inspired you to write a children's book in the first place?

Martine Hammar: it kind of had nothing really to do with working together and sendable, you know, and story prompting that type of thing. It's just a kind of feel that sometimes in life, we go through things that We might not even realize at the time that can actually help people. And I think it's only when you actually stand back and…

Gavin Hammar:  You.

Martine Hammar: reflect on things that and speak to people that you realize that You'll experience can actually help someone else and that's exactly what I went through. And that's what led me to create this book. Should.

Gavin Hammar:  So what message are you hoping to convey to the book? Then I mean Obviously you have some sort of story you want to tell some underlying theme to the book so maybe for listeners who haven't seen the book which most of them. Haven't, what's, what's the main sort of messages message that you're trying to give across in the story?

Martine Hammar:  Okay, well, let me go back a little bit. So, basically, what happened with with me in my life so in 2020, we were in lockdown, obviously a bit and everything. Now, I mean, you obviously know the story being my husband, but basically so Gavin and I moved from South Africa, our families win South Africa. And we were based in the UK. So we were really far and I think lockdown and covid, made people feel a lot further suddenly we couldn't just go, it wasn't overnight to see our families. So anyway, we got through the year and it was amazing and like we all reached December and I remember even saying to you We've nailed it. You know, this was a challenging year, we've done it, we managed homeschooling working from home have you know, transforming sandable into a remote company. We nailed it. And then basically I got a phone call to say that my mum had started coughing.

Martine Hammar:  Didn't think anything of it. You know, I remember talking to her and her saying, Oh, I must wash my vegetables. When I do any grocery shopping and they say to, you know, what? UBS neurotic as you want, we're fine. Whatever but please be, as neurotic as you want. So there she was, ironically washing her, you know, bags and vegetables and deliveries and everything and me laughing behind her back, but at least she was looking after yourself. So anyway, she started coughing right around her birthday, 69th birthday. And basically what happened was the next day, she was, unfortunately asthmatic, and the next day, she went into hospital because her sets weren't great and the doctor was concerned and even at the time we were like, It's fine, you know, you're being, you know, you're in the right place, you're with the doctors, they'll keep an eye on you. Now, granted, this was, I went to the beginning of covid, but it was the beginning of a new wave, especially in South Africa. My dad also head coach at the time, but thankfully, he was able to stay home.

Martine Hammar:  So she went into hospital and the whole time, you know, we had such an amazing relationship, she had and she was incredibly close to you and I she was incredibly close to our children, her friends. You know, she had an amazing support system. Very very well-loved member of the community in South Africa and you know, in our lives. So she kind of carried on the same, the same optimism, the same sense of humor. Everything she was sending me videos and photos of the cardboard. She said that she was eating in the hospitals, you know, the same banter. This everything was the same just unfortunately she was in hospital but it didn't let her spirits never never dropped at all. So so we were chatting all the time and then suddenly we got a message to say she needed to spend more time on her stomach. So then messages slowed down a bit, then she was moved to hide opinion see and was on a fast flow. I think it was called messages dwindled. A little bit that way and slowly slowly slowly.

Martine Hammar:  This person who was so much in my life, every minute of every day, I used to call her in traffic just to talk about nonsense or I would call her because the kids had some silly thing. They wanted to say, you know, this person started Unfortunately, vanishing from my life, like, you know, I didn't kind of know which way to turn. I was just so used to her being there for me and sharing things and having involved in our lives. Especially in lockdown. She was despite the the distance. So then, unfortunately she was moved into the ICU and they had to put on a ventilator. And suddenly, I went from this person who I spoke to every minute of every day, even in hospital to suddenly nothing, just no communication whatsoever. And for me,

Martine Hammar:  It just was, everything was all wrong. Not only should I have been there. I hadn't seen her, since December, 2019. I should have been there with her. I wasn't, I couldn't even speak to her. I was stuck in the UK, she was in South Africa. I couldn't get on a plane. Everything just wasn't right. As I said a world love member of the community should have been surrounded by people. She was on her own just it wasn't right. Nothing was right. And then unfortunately so basically three weeks after she started coughing, we got a message to say that she had passed away all on her own. I mean, this is like, if I had to think to myself, what I would never ever wish on anybody, it's this because it was just so black messed up. Basically, like I even remember saying to you, like this is not the way this is, can't be the right way. This can't be the way it happens. It just wasn't right. Like, this person was so crucial in my life this just wasn't right and obviously my


Martine Hammar:  Rathers. I have two brothers. Also, they weren't with her. My dad wasn't with the best friends, no one. So, So basically, it was like this. You know, it's kind of what I explain this. It's basically the Jewish religion allows you to have seven days where you said shiver and you just Think about things. I was so grateful for that. I never realized the importance of that but I was actually able to as much as I wasn't able to go. I mean, I wasn't even at her funeral, which is madness, really, but I was able to kind of spend their time Grieving, and you know, we were moving house at the time, which is, I mean, so I'm saying like I couldn't make the stuff up like and selling sandable at the time. So um, it kind of gave me this week to kind of focus just on what I was feeling and everything and

Martine Hammar: It took me about a year to kind of really come to terms with what had happened with the shock of not being there, with the shock of…

Gavin Hammar: It.

Martine Hammar: what was, you know, how my heart was ripped out of my body, basically, and ripped into a million pieces to and not being able to go only way into a year later, which was a story in its own. Because I assumed, I'd be able to have a smell and her clothes and everything was gone, you know, I just missed that whole time. So basically, it gave me that time to kind of focus on a year later. It's still kind of raw. And and that's kind of the reason that this book came about because the book let me put a backstory. Yeah, the books called a little piece inside me is missing, it's a children's book and the reason I wrote it is because even as an adult people would say to me, How are you, how are things, how you finding things, and I'd say, You know, I'm okay, I'm okay, like

Martine Hammar: You have to get on with it, you over to your family, you go to yourself, you're over to the person more than anything, the most selfless person in the world would not want me using up my time and energy thinking about her when I've got people and a business and kids, you know, family and friends. And, you know, my own mental health. She wouldn't want me consuming my time thinking about her and…

Gavin Hammar: If you.

Martine Hammar: and not coping. So that's the thing you get on with it. You have to you over to them and you owe it to yourself and your family as I said. So that's the thing. So I would say to people, You know, I'm okay. But the thing is, there was always just this little piece of me that will never be the same. It's all will always be missing. And the thing is, is that even if somebody said to me, I'll give you a magic pull to make that little piece.

Martine Hammar:  Not not hurt anymore. Not not remind you of the person. Make you feel better? I would never, ever, ever take that because the thing is what this little piece represents to me. Is the fact that this piece is missing, means that I loved and I was loved. And for me, that why would I want to feel that? Why would I want to forget that? Like people say grief gets easier as you get on as you get, you know, as it goes by, I don't believe that at all. I just think you learn to deal, you learn to get on with it. How can this piece of inside me? Vanish, how can it just go away? And I forget if I had to forget that, I was loved and had this relationship with my mom. I would never forgive myself. Like, I always want this piece of me missing to remember how much she meant to me, and how much how real our relationship was. And so, basically, that's how I came up with the story for the book, but I wanted to adapt it to make kids feel okay about this process. Like when a child

Martine Hammar: Somebody close to them. It's very different than when an adult does. But the thing is for a child is it's the same kind of process of there's this little piece missing, but there's ways that you can make that piece not hurt as much and…

Gavin Hammar: If?

Martine Hammar: you can make yourself feel better by remembering the person and by talking about them and never forgetting them and never had never being a taboo subject in our house. So obviously, so I've got, well, we've got two daughters. So one was very little at the time. She was only two. Very matter of fact. She she didn't really understand unfortunately, but we had an older one who's 10 now, she was

Martine Hammar: Eight of the time and she was absolutely torn apart by this because of her amazing relationships, she had with my mum. And, you know, when I read her this was when we discussed the story together it kind of opened things up for her because she didn't recognize that she had that feeling. And once we were able to talk about it, she realized that that's actually what she was feeling. She just didn't know how to articulate it and because of that,…


Gavin Hammar: If?

Martine Hammar: we, as I said, we talk about things. Like we we still, you know, my mom because she was so like she had a great sense of humor and she was she didn't mind us mocking her. So we still do that. We don't suddenly feel like, we can't say those things that made us laugh at the time because that's the right way of respecting her. And that's the way that you can make this, this whole not hurt. You can, you can fill it with these funny things. These amazing memories is great experiences that make you not miss the person. Yes, but also treasure the time you had with them.

Martine Hammar:  So yeah, I hope that answers a question. I'm sorry for lengthy.

Gavin Hammar: Yeah, that's Yeah, so obviously it was it came about as a result of your mom being unwell and…

Martine Hammar:  Yeah.

Gavin Hammar: the sudden loss. So, if you were to just explain, like, where did the idea for the book actually come from, like, obviously this, this thing happened. He had these issues you were dealing with. Obviously, our daughter was a dealing with it. We're all dealing with it. What, what did you decide to sit down and come up with the idea and start writing the book was, It was a couple years later, was it straight after it happened? Where did you get this idea?

Martine Hammar: So, a definitely wasn't straight after because it took me a while to process it. And it took me a while to kind of put my feelings into words and to kind of almost recognize how I was feeling and articulated. So it was about Nick coming up to two years after it happened. And I've always loved writing, I wrote a blog about called Scarred for Life. When our daughter was at when she had multiple livesaving surgeries, I kind of documented the journey also not as it happened but later on. So I've always I've always enjoyed writing. I've always founded an amazing outlet. So I didn't kind of think too much of it. I just kind of wanted to get something down and then I wanted to see what would come from it. And then when I,…

Gavin Hammar: You.

Martine Hammar: when I kind of wrote it down and I thought actually, hang on, this could actually help people, this could actually help kids. So what I did was I sense it off to a psychotherapist and a grief counseling charity.

Martine Hammar:  To see if they would they if they endorsed it, if they actually thought it was useful. So because the thing is, is that it's just my perspective, like, I'm not a therapist, I'm just some, but I'm just a mother, who's gone through this and a daughter who's gone through this. So I don't know if my theories are correct. And but they actually were very supportive of it and they, they thought it was a nice analogy. That would actually help children. So yeah, I'd say about a yeah, close to two years later. But, I mean, as I said, the same thing happened with, with the blog, I feel like when these things happen, you kind of go into autopilot and you just get on with it and you focus. And then only afterwards can you start unpacking things? And thinking actually, I was actually quite strong. I was stronger than I thought I would be Because I think when you know, with these types of things, it's easy to say, Oh I would never cope with that. And I would have said the same thing. How on earth would I've coped? Just losing my mum? She was so important in my life.

Martine Hammar:  How I would never cope with that. But somehow I did and I don't understand how I did, but if I did, then maybe I can help other people too.

Gavin Hammar: So you mentioned that writing for you is like an outlet.

Martine Hammar:  Yeah.

Gavin Hammar: So how therapeutic was the act of writing this book for you?

Martine Hammar: Definitely very,…

Gavin Hammar: Like Did you find it helpful but you're would you recommend writing to other people who go through a loss? How helpful was it?

Martine Hammar: very helpful, as I said, because it was not always easy to articulate how you feel. And it was very, very helpful for me because I was able to put my feelings that I that as I say, as I could that, I couldn't articulate into words and be like, oh, that's it. That makes sense. That, you know, in the same thing with my daughter,…

Gavin Hammar:  and,

Martine Hammar: she couldn't articulate how she feel, but it was like, Oh wow, I feel that way too. So I would always recommend people to to write even if you do nothing with it, even if it's just for yourself. Even if it's a blog or something like that or just on the back of your, you know, notebook just for yourself, it's very, very therapeutic and it allows you to just reflect and, you know, and and kind of Get some insight into into what you're going through. Sometimes, you can also write and then

Martine Hammar:  feel like you're reading something as another person, you know, if you kind of wait a week or so. And you look at it and think if I was reviewing this, what would I get from it? Or What would I change or what? You know, How would, How is this person feeling? And then you think, Actually that's useful to me if I apply to my own life.

Gavin Hammar: Yeah. Yeah. As I'm sure this will be keen to hear about your process, but before we get there, just keen to ask you just about the actual story itself so that the plot of the story, could you give a brief summary of the characters, the plot? Just maybe at a high level kind of what it's about and how it is therapeutic for readers.


Martine Hammar: Okay, so, I mean, it's only a 32 page, children's books that there's not that much in the plot, so I might, they might be a few spoilers, but basically it's just this conversation really between a mother and a daughter to turn the the daughters at school and I'm sure everybody. Can I remember going through this with a grandparent that awful time, knock at the door when you see a familiar face of the door that you can have come to collect you from school? So I purposely didn't give the child a name because I want anyone to be able to identify with her. And there wasn't, there's no first names or anything, so, this mother picks up her daughter from school, takes a, you know, takes her home and as they're walking home. They're having this conversation and the mother says, to her that her grandmother, her grandmother's has died and the child.

Martine Hammar:  Starts remembering all the things so she remembers like their phone calls. They used to have where she would go on and on and on about nothing. But the grandmother would listen. When she remembers like sitting on a bench eating sandwiches with the grandmother and the ground, they were probably revolting. But the grandmother didn't want to hurt her feelings and tell her that

Martine Hammar: So so it's just this conversation and then the child says to the mother like I'm happy that she's not sick anymore but I feel different And then she said It feels like this peace inside me is missing and the man The fact is the child is saying, This is sort of what it feels like when the mother goes are I know exactly what it feels like because obviously the mother could potentially I'd lost someone close to her too in her past. So the mother recognizes this feeling and through their conversation, she's able to help the child articulate, her feeling but also with give her these ideas of way she can make herself feel better and and smile again and and not not necessarily. She doesn't want to necessarily to be happy. That's not the point of the story, but it's this journey of getting better and getting over it and coming to terms with things and…

Gavin Hammar: If?

Martine Hammar: and starting to, to use the term smile, again, starting to, to find the beauty and the

Martine Hammar:  The gratitude really that she had this amazing person in her life.

Gavin Hammar: And here we decided the target audience. It's obviously a very sensitive subject for a lot of children.

Martine Hammar: Yeah. So I've kind of aimed it towards.

Gavin Hammar: Who would you want to buy this book and learn from it?

Martine Hammar: It's a difficult question because I know I should have like a set target audience, but the thing is, I feel like different ages would get different messages from it. So I've read it to like, for example, our five year old, she's very matter of fact, she's very like,

Martine Hammar: This is what happened. This is kind of what the message is and that's that's it, you know, can we move over to Mr. Men, type thing, whereas I read it with our 10 year old and then we were discussing the different themes and the different messages behind the words and why I used caps in some places versus, like, why I had to, I said, like she, you know, she remember we spoke about she listened to every single detail. I wrote that in caps and I'll say why, and she said, because she's going on and on and on. So I think there's different kind of things that people get from, depending on the age. But I have aimed at from about three years old, till about 10 years old.

Gavin Hammar: If?

Martine Hammar: She's a very wide range, but I feel like it's, I hope, I hope it would resonate with children, no matter who they've lost, no matter. Whether it's a, even a human, or an animal really. I mean, it's the same thing losing a family pet, it's the same feeling. It's

Martine Hammar:  You know, I remember having it as a child like it's something. It's the same grief, like as much as it doesn't seem like it is, it is so I would love that's why I didn't want to name the characters. I wanted it to be applicable to any form of grief, any form of loss, no matter how old you are. And I mean, even for me as an adult had helped me. So I'd like to think that the parent reading it to the child, will get something out of it too.

Martine Hammar:  Okay.

Gavin Hammar: I'm keen to write a children's book. One day myself in a show that's the listeners that I like to.

Martine Hammar: So firstly I've never published anything before.

Gavin Hammar: So firstly, what did you decide to self publish first is going to publisher?

Martine Hammar: So that was kind of the main reason I wanted to kind of give it a try and see how it went, see the process and learn from it. But also I feel like this is such a personal story that the worst thing that could have happened for me is either a publisher repetitor shreds that would have been terrible because it was therapeutic for me. So that would have really set me back if that had happened, but also it's kind of, I feel like it's my story, it's my mom's story, it's our story. So I wanted to do justice and I wanted to do it my way and it's very rare that I say things like that because I'm always open to learning and experiencing and and learning from other people and taking the expertise, but I feel like as much as I'm not an expert by any means. I wanted to be involved in this process. I didn't want someone telling me you can't you know donate 50 books to somebody. You feel would be enough for, you know, that type of thing or


Martine Hammar: This is the way it works and you know I didn't want it to become a business. Basically I wanted it to be a passion project I want to full control and yeah but I mean the self-publishing journey is Interesting. It's I mean I haven't obviously gone the conventional publishing route…

Gavin Hammar: You.

Martine Hammar: but I would imagine you know for the writer it's a lot easier because a lot happens behind the scenes. I mean I yeah I mean the just the the kind of process of the design and everything and looking at margins and slugs and rulers and All the yeah was was quite a lot. Yeah. Okay.

Gavin Hammar: I'm key to go into detail because obviously we have people who'd have to publish a book,…

Martine Hammar:  Okay.

Gavin Hammar: even if it's a business book, So what is the process from kind of writing that the story or the the kind of content first? So, I see me writing your notebook or in your notes, app on your phone wherever you write it, you had a moment of creativity. Walk me through the step by step process. When you have this piece of content. He written it up in a document. What's the next step from having the text and getting it all the way to published book? Take us to that process,…

Martine Hammar: Okay, so yes,…

Gavin Hammar: step by step.

Martine Hammar: you completely right. I just I think I did it in Google Drive or something like that. Just I think I woke up one morning and I just raised downstairs to do it and I think that's a kind of how these things happen. So that that was was how I actually wrote the story. It was very quick. I think it took me about 10 minutes to kind of get the first draft out. People always say that the easy part is writing, everything else is the more challenging parts. So what I did then is I went on to five actually and I found myself an editor and I sent it to her. She was based in the US and she gave me her feedback. She, you know, the punctuation errors or whatever it was. And just she kind of gave me her views on it and,…

Gavin Hammar: You.

Martine Hammar: you know, and thankfully she was quite very supportive and she really liked it and every, but so that was the kind of the first step. So to get it, edited a lot of people, miss that step, but I think it's absolutely vital because it was a lot of things that I can't.

Martine Hammar:  Any more comments before quotation marks and things like that. So she really helped me with that. And then what I did was I went back on to five and I found myself an illustrator and then There are at some absolute minefield going on Fiverr, but the nice thing about it is you, you can really discover somebody who you would never have come into contact with otherwise. So, I chose an illustrator based in Pakistan and I would kind of send her ideas of like what I would want. And what the messages and basically what she did was then she gave me like an idea of a page before I chose this. So you pay just to get one page and then you pay for the rest if you approve it. So I was able to see you know her ideas and kind of her mediums and how she I think medium is the right autistic term and how she would how she saw these characters and if I liked it then that was great. And then

Martine Hammar:  And then off to that. So what you would do is she would send me the actual pages. So she created everything in procreate from scratch and then would send it to me. And then I added in the text and that's when I was working. This is the path that took a really, really long time because I'm not a designer. So, but I was, I was I wanted to learn and I want to do it and I downloaded InDesign and I got my designer friend on board who was invaluable to me. As I said, teaching me about margins and slugs and outlining text to embed it in the page and oh so she's an awesome graphic designer. So and so that was really, really helpful. And so yeah, I spend most of my time kind of positioning everything and deciding like what I would do is if I wanted the text to go down, then I'd say to or can you just move the bench a little bit lower? Or can you move the bench a little whatever? It was so then and then she would send it back to me. And then once I was happy, obviously, then I just completed the transaction on

Martine Hammar: Her and everything was then left to me and then she gave me the, the front and the back page. And then I kind of added in my text and now I'm at the stage now. So now I've uploaded it to Amazon publishing KDP and…

Gavin Hammar: If?

Martine Hammar: I've actually also put it on Ingramspark and it's an ebook too. And now kind of the fun begins, because now, I need to market it. So, this is the thing you self-publishing. No one's gonna do it for you. So and, you know, I might be numbers, you know, seven thousand, if you look up grief books for kids on Amazon. So, now I have to kind of work away, work out a way to kind of get up there. So all the marketing is up to me now. But in saying that, I wouldn't want to hire a company to do that for me, so I wouldn't necessarily want the publisher to do it because who can tell my story better than me? So I wouldn't really want they involvement?


Gavin Hammar: Mmm.

Martine Hammar: Really, I think if it is something then maybe I'll go that step, you know, go that route at a later stage but for now this is such a personal project.

Martine Hammar:  You know, it's deeply personal to me. So I really want to kind of see it through and see what can become of it.

Gavin Hammar: And just for those people who don't know what these things are, like you mentioned KDP on Amazon and…

Martine Hammar:  Okay.

Gavin Hammar: yes, I could explain like What are these different services and…

Martine Hammar: Okay, sorry.

Gavin Hammar: do. They facilitate the printing of the books? Like How does that actually work? Yeah.

Martine Hammar: Um, so kdp is the Amazon version of print-on-demand. So what it means is you upload a PDF and then it goes on to Amazon as a PDF and the same with Ingramspark. It's the same also prints on demand and then what they do is, if somebody buys the book on Amazon then they will print it for that person who's buying it and the same thing with Ingramspark. It's the same way it works but the nice thing with with Amazon KDP is it goes into on to Kindle for the Ebook and it goes on to the Amazon websites internationally and then with with Ingram spark is they distribute to like Cobo. I think which is a different e-reader a few different e-readers and they distribute to like Barnes and Noble and other bookstores also print on demand,

Gavin Hammar:  Okay. And did you have any help or resources kind of getting this thing going? Because obviously, there's a lot to learn here in this process. I'm wondering Did you get any help with any communities? You joined any other authors, he spoke to like How did, that's how they work.

Martine Hammar: So, yes, so Ingramspark and KDP have their own communities on Facebook, which is really, really helpful. So, I was on there. There's also just some self-publishing communities that. Yeah. So I was able to ask questions and I was able to actually learn from other people's questions to also have nice things like where you can show your children's book on a Tuesday that type of thing and you can just like you know just join the community and support each other and there's also some awesome coloring books and things. I might want to buy for the girls from there, but it's just it's really nice. I think, generally with community, I mean I don't need to sell you on the importance of community, but I think you know, it's really nice just to be around like-minded people who are in the same boat as you, because it's very overwhelming to start on the self-publishing journey with. Because

Martine Hammar: Firstly, it can be very lonely because you don't have anyone to balance any ideas off.

Gavin Hammar: Here.

Martine Hammar: So it's really nice to have the support from these people and to be able to learn from them and them say something like Oh I also have that problem also have that error when I did something but I, you know, but I figured it out by doing this or whatever, but also there's some amazing amazing like walkthroughs on YouTube, that was incredibly helpful. So I would literally have two screens and the one I would follow the steps and the other one. I'd play the video and pause and do whatever it was when I loading. Because, you know, you don't want to miss it up. So, and…

Gavin Hammar:  Yeah.

Martine Hammar: there was some worn, some, like things I had to toggle or whatever that I had. Absolutely no idea what they meant and then, yeah. As I mentioned a designer friends and…

Gavin Hammar: Yeah. So you…

Martine Hammar: that was also very helpful. Yeah.

Gavin Hammar: if you made the whole process sound, very easy, and streamlined,…

Martine Hammar:  Oh good.

Gavin Hammar: and simple to do this, anyone can do this. But what were some of the challenges you faced along the way? Like, what were some of the things that got you bogged down or things that were kind of difficult to do when you're getting a book published?

Martine Hammar: I think just generally, you know, for me, it's kind of As I've said, this is, this is like all I'm focusing on for this amount of time, this is so personal to me. It's Every, you know, I'm putting my heart and soul blood, sweat, and tears into this book and then you've hired a designer who it's a job. So they just, you know, it's just a job for them. So it's very different. You kind of, I would have loved to have, like a partner so you know me sitting on the left and the illustrates on the right and working together, but that's not how soft publishing works.

Gavin Hammar: Mmm.

Martine Hammar: And that's not, I mean, you know, there are many publishers that obviously work like that, but they're a lot bigger than me. And the budgets are very different so and they have agents and things like that. So so I think that was that was a massive challenge. So like if I asked for something in a certain format or if I ask for a certain change and it took like ages to come or it came and it wasn't right or

Martine Hammar:  You know, I also had some issues in the beginning with like it had to be uploaded in CMYK which is a color format. So I think it's called and it was sent to me in RGB and I didn't realize I uploaded everything and then only I realized after that, You know, I'm not a designer so I don't I'm kind of trusting that person to make my dream a reality and tell me what, you know what, the truth tell me the truth, really. So I don't know that. So I learned to now check the formats and everything but I didn't know that at first so like I spent ages getting them all ready and then I realized they were RGB and RGB is not for print, RGB is for computer for the screen, like the Ebook, so that couldn't use them. So then I had to wait, and I'll basically thankfully, she was really nice and did help me, but at the end of the day, her money had been had arrived at. I don't know how far works with escrow and everything, but basically, the job was done, I had marked it complete. So I was very fortunate in that she did help me with that, but I think


Martine Hammar:  it's just that kind of concept of the fact that they're kind of working for you to them. It's a job to you. It's your blood sweat and tears. So I think that that is a bit of a challenge. But I mean, it was definitely learning experience. I now know what, I need to look for before approving also. It's not just about what, you know, the tree looks like what the bird looks like it's about actually you know, if it's flat and if it's not if you need to move it, if it's gonna be behind the text, if it's in RGB, you'll see in my K or you know, that's up pixelated and you know,

Martine Hammar: Sorry, I didn't hear.

Gavin Hammar: I'm sorry if you were to start over with your next book, I assume you would do things the same way. Or would you change things? Like What would you do?

Gavin Hammar: That's different next time.

Martine Hammar: um, it's an interesting question…

Martine Hammar: because I feel like if I get If this one really works out, then maybe I would take myself more seriously and kind of go the formal publishing route. I don't know if Let's say it, you know, obviously I'm not I'm not in this for the money. I don't need to be the next Julio. Donaldson that's not kind of, what I'm what, I'm, I don't know if the US people would know who she is. But but basically, I don't need to be the next big. Big author. That's not what I've done this. That's not what I've done this. So

Martine Hammar: I don't know if I would could necessarily go the formal publishing route? I would like to invest together. I'd like to explore and see if it's even something that I would that would apply to me. But I, I might go the same route, but I would try and do things differently. Maybe I wouldn't use fiverr, it's a for the illustrator. Maybe I would find somebody local or kind of source epic and myself or from one of these communities. There's always people recommending this services. So and then maybe I would use the designer, well, you know, use their editors or something like that. But yeah, I would like to kind of, I don't really feel at this point. I can make the decision 100% because it kind of depends if anything comes from actually launching this book. Basically. And…

Gavin Hammar: Mmm.

Martine Hammar: if I can kind of take it to the next step, by going, the more formal route. Yeah.

Gavin Hammar:  Yeah. And for those thinking of writing, their first book, are there any is the resources or places, they can go to learn how to start.

Martine Hammar: Oh, I mean there's so much online.

Martine Hammar:  So much. But one of the things I did, I actually won the BBC maestro. There was a nice thing about writing, a children's book. That was actually Giulia Donaldson and coincidentally, but you can tell I'm a fan. So I I went through that and she talks about absolutely everything. The rhythm the power of three, you know, everything. So and some of them I use some of them. I've kind of parked for next time because they would apply more to the next story, which I've actually got an idea for but kind of parking that for now. I'm a little bit. Yeah, I want to kind of give this one a good push, but yeah, I would say just that don't be afraid to ask. So there are so many helpful people who can inspire you and who can give you feedback and you can learn from. So anyone who wants to kind of go this this you know, go through this I would say just do it because you actually never know you never know what can come from it. You never know you might have

Martine Hammar: Incredibly powerful story to tell that you didn't even know was in you. So, and yeah, and just ask for help reach out to people discuss things brainstorm. I mean, that's why I went to these experts because I had no idea if my idea was actually worth anything. so, I needed I needed some Some acknowledgments that it wouldn't actually,…

Gavin Hammar: Mmm.

Martine Hammar: and the worst thing for me would have been if it had armed kids. That mean, that is, you know, if I'm trying to help kids, that is literally the worst thing that could have ever happened. So I don't want anyone to have nightmares or anything like that, any kids? So I needed to know.

Gavin Hammar: Yeah.

Martine Hammar: So that's the thing reach out to these people because they they can help you. And and…

Gavin Hammar: Yeah. Some keen to ask you a bit about eight about AI,…

Martine Hammar: they support means a lot.

Gavin Hammar: because it's so prevalence right now. It's a hot hot topic at the moment. So, I think you mentioned the story. You told me last week about this author who had AI generated children's book for him. Could you show the story for this? And it's just very kind of know the backstory before I followed up with some more questions.

Martine Hammar:  Oh God. Yeah.

Martine Hammar:  Yeah.


Martine Hammar:  Oh gosh. I feel like I should have researched this, then he could have warned me. So, basically, no, I saw something on one of these communities that people were laughing about this thing. So, obviously chat gbt. I mean, you're less absolutely super fan of chat, gbt me less. Oh, I'm really empty it. But basically what this author had done was he wanted to prove that in 72 hours he could get a book published and he created the whole story from using AI and the pictures. He, you know, he he got from AI and he published this book and it can be a very quick process if you do it that way and it's 72 hours, he had this book selling on Amazon and he did really well until people caught on what had happened about what had happened. And suddenly these authors were complaining and you know that that they work was stolen and Amazon took it down and suddenly you know it was never more so

Martine Hammar: And I I don't know,…

Gavin Hammar: You.

Martine Hammar: I feel like I'm kind of I don't want to be like an old woman against things that I advancing technology. But I hate most of what it stands for me personally, I know this is gonna cause a domestic between the two of us but You know, I'm just I I just think that as much as you can kind of get ideas and…

Gavin Hammar: If?

Martine Hammar: kind of enhance them in your own way. I think it's a scary scary reality and and one of the reasons is because like, for example, our daughter loves writing and is an amazing storyteller. And I think to myself, if the person next to her creates a story and just changes a few words and it's done with Ai and there she is. This powerful storyteller who can't get her words out. You…

Gavin Hammar: You know.

Martine Hammar: what about things? That writers block right as block. There's a reason that people you know, that's not a bad thing.

Martine Hammar:  You know, people talk about writers block a lot. It's not a bad thing. It's just, it's just it is what it is and then when you come out of it, you bet you're better, you're better off, you know for it. So the thing is ai is just removing all these natural things that writes us normally go through. So to me it's just a little bit scary but yeah. I don't understand in the way of technology.

Gavin Hammar: Yeah, I think obviously I'll think about writer's block. I think it's it solves rights is block,…

Martine Hammar: That's what I'm saying,…

Gavin Hammar: you…

Martine Hammar: but it's natural,…

Gavin Hammar: I don't think it's a problem…

Martine Hammar: but it's natural.

Gavin Hammar: but That might be natural…

Martine Hammar: It's, you know. Yeah. Yeah.

Gavin Hammar: but there's this can speed up the writing process. Right. So you you could have gotten to chat GPT.

Martine Hammar:  Yeah. Yeah.

Gavin Hammar: Instead, I want to write a story about grief. Give me a few ideas of plots and from there you can evolve the plot as your own creative project.

Martine Hammar:  But it wouldn't be my story and yeah.

Gavin Hammar: But It was we're still giving you the idea to write something. It's not about copying for Bates in…

Martine Hammar: Yeah. Okay.

Gavin Hammar: which you get back by giving you ideas, you can then build upon.

Gavin Hammar: I think that's the value is

Martine Hammar: But if your first question to me was,…

Martine Hammar: How did you come about finding the story. How did you come about this idea?

Gavin Hammar:  Yeah.

Martine Hammar: And my answer to you was Oh I went into chat gbt and and just, you know how interesting with this podcast have been, you know? Yeah, I have a personal story of us,…

Gavin Hammar: That's true, that's good. Yeah.

Martine Hammar: something, I truly felt, you know, wasn't coded into me, you know.

Gavin Hammar: Yeah, you would have said. I had a story and I found I found some ideas on chat gpt you gonna help me write it.

Martine Hammar: Exactly. This is truly personal and…

Gavin Hammar: Yeah. Fair enough.

Martine Hammar: the story has come from that real experience.

Gavin Hammar: But yeah, I guess in a world where people can just generate stories. Using AI, where do you think writers, authors like yourself, where would they be able to stand out in this kind of world? Because we are going that direction,…

Martine Hammar:  Mmm.

Gavin Hammar: it's gonna be harder for. There's gonna be more of this kind of content that's just spit out, or spat out by this machine learning. So, how can authors take what they've already produced? Or what kind of take their natural stories that aren't tainted by AI and make them stand out, amongst all the other generated sort of content.

Martine Hammar: Oh, so difficult question. I I just think that being by being truly human. I think the thing is that the only thing that can make us different to Ai and Bots and everything and everything. We talk about a story from the only thing that can truly make us different is being human. And I think You have to tap into that.

Gavin Hammar:  Mmm.

Martine Hammar: And, you know, we're AI would describe my situation in one way. I can say it in different way and that's based on experience. And that's based on real human emotions and real human experience. And I think the more writers tap into that and talk about that and exaggerate that I think that is kind of the only way that we can stand out. Yeah, more than that. I mean, I'm kind of a little bit scared for what the future holds.

Martine Hammar: Because of this,…

Gavin Hammar: You yeah.

Martine Hammar: I really am. I really am? You know, I think it's fun and everything to with Cat Gbt. It's, you know, it's fun and everything, but I think it can be a little bit frightening, but I think we really have to figure out ways to kind of beat the system by being more human.

Gavin Hammar: There was something I actually saw I think in the news yesterday someone's created this app that can determine whether the text is AI generated or…


Martine Hammar:  Oh,

Gavin Hammar: human generated. So I think in the future we'll have these machines that I analyzing the machine generated content to understand…

Martine Hammar: okay, then Yeah. Okay.

Gavin Hammar: if it is a human written piece of content over. It's AI generated. So I think that that's I think that'll be a need in the future. It was a lot of new startups coming out and in that space I even be able to validate videos.

Martine Hammar:  Yeah. Right.

Gavin Hammar: If you have an AI generated video, when AI generates an image will need these tools to help us determine what's real and…

Martine Hammar:  That's all.

Gavin Hammar: what isn't? I think your point your point about having the human story, and the background behind what you've written is, what makes humans stand out,…

Martine Hammar: Yes. And that's when we can't ever be defeated because,…

Gavin Hammar: you know, amongst the bots or AI

Martine Hammar: yeah, that's anything exactly.

Gavin Hammar: Yeah. Yeah we have the experience whereas they don't, where's they, They interpret all the human all of human experience and…

Martine Hammar: Yeah. Yeah.

Gavin Hammar: understand it in a way that the machine can…

Gavin Hammar: but they can't speak from first-hand experience. Yeah.

Martine Hammar: Exactly. It's kind of that classic kind of debate between a person…

Martine Hammar: who studies a textbook like a doctor. Let's say who studies the textbook and knows the textbook versus the person that's on the ground. Speaking to patients bedside manner. All those things that they learn In that way.

Gavin Hammar:  Okay. Yeah.

Martine Hammar: So it's kind of that the life experience versus just information.

Gavin Hammar:  Yeah. Cool. So before we go where can listeners find your online if they have questions about self publishing about writing a book and how can they get? Hold of the book?

Martine Hammar: Sure. So I'm can I add links into the show notes. Yeah. Okay,…

Gavin Hammar:  Yeah.

Martine Hammar: so I'll add the Amazon links in the show notes. Obviously, as I mentioned, there's an eBook and a print book and also I'm going to be launching a website, called Soft Landing Media. And that's a website where I'm going to have all the books and a little bit of background and a bit of a deadlife experience. We spoke about and a little bit about the human behind the book. So, I'm gonna be launching that soon. And basically, I'm, you can always reach out to me on LinkedIn. Yeah, I'm always happy to discuss kind of this process or to help along anyone else's journey or obviously, if you if anything in the story resonates and you want to chat about that, too. I'm very, very open to that.

Gavin Hammar: Could you mention the name of the book again, just for those who want to go search on Amazon right now?

Martine Hammar: Yeah, sure. Thanks a little piece inside me is missing. Yeah. Thanks,…

Gavin Hammar:  Awesome, cool. Thank you so much Martin. Bye.

Martine Hammar: thanks for having me. Okay, bye.

Unscalable by Gavin Hammar
We live in a world where everyone is trying to gain a competitive edge through automation, bots, and AI. But, since launching Sendible 13 years ago, I've discovered that to truly stand out, the best strategy is to focus on the more human things – the "unscalable". So, if you're looking for a fresh perspective on how to be truly memorable in a noisy world, then this is the podcast for you. Tune in every week for short, actionable, and unscalable tactics that you can use in your business today.