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Q&A Series: Emma-Jane Leeson from Johnny Magory Books
21 November 2018|Q&A Series


Guaranteed Irish member Johnny Magory Books is a series of children’s books set around the loveably mischievous character of Johnny Magory. We sat down with author Emma-Jane Leeson, the woman behind these stories, to learn more about her experience navigating the publishing industry in Ireland.

How did Johnny Magory Books come about? 

My parents used to tell my siblings and me a story about Johnny Magory every night before we went to bed. They would just make something up based on whatever harm and divilment we’d gotten up to that day! This is somewhat of a family tradition passed down between generations, and were delighted every night to hear about Johnny Magory.

I had my first daughter Lily-Marie when I was 18 and on one of the many sleepless nights I decided to write down some actual stories based on where we live in Ballynafagh, Co. Kildare. Twelve years later I eventually self-published the first of the stories, after a good persuasive push from my mother!

What is the story-writing and publishing process like? 

Writing the stories is easy – I carry a notebook around with me at all times in case I have a good idea for a plot. I actually have a whole collection of stories already written for the next books! It’s the publishing and marketing that presents the true challenge. Since I have a full time career in HR at Kerry Foods, I decided that I would go the self-publishing route and do things at my own pace and style.

Take a look at the blog Emma-Jane wrote on the entire process here.

What do you hope your stories convey to the children that read them?

The aim of these books is simple: to educate and instill a love of Irish heritage, culture and nature into the children that read them. I also hope that the books encourage a love of reading and a curiosity in nature.

What are the challenges that you face in your business and how do you work to overcome them?

A major challenge that I face is the stigma associated with self-publishing within the industry. A lot of the major bookstore chains have specific guidelines around stocking books and tend to not want to deal with self-published titles. However, the markets are changing and the traditional route of sale is no longer the only route. My website and social media channels play a big part in helping me overcome the stigma placed on self-publishing, and we generate a significant amount of sales through the website itself due to our marketing efforts there. On top of that, we’re sure to promote the stores that do stock our books on social media.

Why did you choose to become a member of Guaranteed Irish?

Being a member of Guaranteed Irish is hugely important to me. As a consumer I have always given preference to products with the Guaranteed Irish symbol because of what it represents. The promotion of Irish businesses, products and services is hugely important to me and I wanted my customers to know that the books are 100% created and produced in our smashing little country. Support local as they say!

Does Johnny Magory Books have anything in store for Christmas?

I am delighted to say a massive YES to this question! We’ve just got our hands on a limited edition hardback “The Adventures of Johnny Magory Collection” which is a celebration of the first trilogy. This book will be for sale through some of our fantastic independent stockists in Ireland and of course signed copies will be available through our website. As with all the books, €1 from each sale goes to CMRF Crumlin Hospital, of whom we are very proud official supporters.

Visit the Johnny Magory Books website here and follow Johnny Magory Books on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

When you purchase a gift from a Guaranteed Irish company, you are supporting a business which is committed to Irish jobs, local communities and Irish provenance. So, remember to #BuyGI this Christmas!