Today I’m going to interview myself wearing my ‘other hat’!  I usually post about English language resources, but today I thought I’d write about my other personal passion project, in case you’ve seen the Unforgettable Notes page on my website and wondered what that’s all about…

So Clare, who or what is Unforgettable Notes?

That’s the pen-name I chose when I started creating books for people living with concentration difficulties or memory loss. I began with guest books (to help people who forget visits), and then puzzle books (you know about my obsession with accessible word puzzles) … and it’s developed from there.

But aren’t you an ELT writer?

Yes, and I’m not suggesting that the readerships are similar – or that doing one qualifies me to do the other.

However, I do think that there are similarities, in that I’m trying to make books that are clearly for adults, that have a simplicity and accessibility – but that are still engaging! And of course, I do have input from a wonderful Dementia Activities Co-ordinator, as well as from other people with expertise that I don’t have.

So how does it all work?

It’s hard to get self-published books into bookshops (except for our wonderful language bookshops – big shout-out to them!). So these are print-on-demand books, available through Amazon. If someone likes the look of a book, and clicks ‘buy’, then the book is printed and shipped directly to them, as if it had been sitting in a warehouse.

Just as with the ESL wordfind books, I create my books in Keynote, save them to pdf, and upload them to Amazon. That’s it. Except of course that isn’t quite it – there’s all the promotion that’s needed to let people know about them.

No wastage?

Exactly. For me it’s a great way to get ‘niche’ books into print (though I’ll say that I always support small bookstores when I’m buying books). People have commented that the print quality is fine – lots of big publishers also do small print runs like this.

Could anyone do this?

They absolutely could. There are so many thriving communities of writers involved in self-publishing. Seriously, if you’re thinking of doing this (either for English teaching or in the Eldercare sphere), get in touch for a chat! However, you need to know that this has been a massive learning curve for me, and continues to be so. I’ve just started on TikTok…

Dancing on TikTok?

No, no, just doing ‘page flips’ of the books. No dancing. Yet.

Will your readers see you there?

Well, maybe not my target audience, but hopefully people who work in the field, or who are family care partners. My actual readers will be people who are struggling to concentrate – maybe they’ve had a brain injury, or they’re living with memory challenges. They may have been avid readers (or puzzlers) but now find it hard to keep focus when they have to turn the page. They may say that standard books have too much text, or that the font is too small.

So are these reading books?

Yes! After getting started with guest books and puzzle books, I wanted to create reading resources. There are plenty of ‘no-word’ picture books for adults available, but I’m more interested in books with text. I think there’s so much value in maintaining reading skills as long as possible. I was also coming from my own experience with family and friends…the books I wished I’d found, the books people have asked for…

I’ve put together some classic illustrated poetry anthologies, books of simple sayings with quizzes, a couple of picture books with light verse, a book of inspiration, two memoir journals, and I’m now working on non-fiction and fiction reading books. (If you think that’s a lot, well, that’s the time I would have spent Tango dancing, pre-Covid era.)

covers of dementia-friendly books from Unforgettable Notes

Is this big business or a passion project?

It’s totally a passion project, though I hope it can grow. The good thing is that this kind of publishing doesn’t cost a lot (except in time). The reward is when I get a nice review on a blog, or a comment that shows that the books have made a real difference to someone’s mum, dad, or resident. If anyone has suggestions for books they’d like to see, feel free to get in touch, too.

Will you continue with the English language books?

Of course. Just waiting for the Book Club readers to arrive from the printer… watch this space! Coming to your local language bookshop soon!