Advance interviews Danielle McCormick, co-author of Essential Car Care for Women.
Danielle McCormick may be the least likely person to write a wildly successful book about car care. “I was a typical girly girl,” she said, “and I didn’t know much about cars. I took my driving test, passed it, put gas in my car and then took it to the mechanic every once in a while. I didn’t know how to maintain my car and I didn’t understand the noises my car would make. Neither did my friends.”
When Danielle was hit with an expensive car repair bill and was told that she wasn’t maintaining her vehicle properly, she was shocked. “I didn’t even know how I was supposed to maintain my car! So, I went to the bookstore and asked for a book with pictures and easy language about car maintenance, and I couldn’t find anything.”
This was in 2008, when Danielle still lived in her homeland of Ireland. “I started thinking about my friends, who are all smart girls with their own careers and I realized that we all had horror stories about silly things that had happened, like a flat tire on the way to an important meeting, causing someone to be two hours late.”
So, Danielle decided to write the book she couldn’t find at the bookstores, a “girl’s ownership manual” with step by step pictures with easy to understand instructions. She self published the guide, using “fun pink” as the cover’s color. She did some PR outreach, but also needed to maintain her day job. In Irish tradition, because Danielle considered this an auto manual, she didn’t even put her name on the book’s cover.
Huge demand for author interviews!
People went crazy for this “auto manual” as soon as it came out, all 10,000 copies selling out in five days. “Even though I didn’t live with my parents,” Danielle remembers, “journalists were calling them, trying to track me down, once the word got out who wrote the book. I was all over the news and the book was on top 5 charts. I sure didn’t expect this reaction! The reality is that the time was right for a book like this and it came out shortly before Christmas, and everyone seemed to know someone who could use this book.”
And, what about the men? They tended, according to Danielle, to buy the book online. “The cover was really pink,” she says, “so, if they bought it at a store, they needed to sneak it to the counter.”
Her success quickly spread, as publishers began “banging on my door.” Editions were soon available in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand–and, after Danielle accepted a new job with a start-up company in San Francisco, the possibility of an American version of the book loomed.
“This was a fun opportunity,” Danielle says. “Other people had written something like my book, but the books were light on pictures and heavy on text. It might read, ‘find the jack’ while the reader is thinking ‘what is a jack???’”
One problem: the publishing playing field is more competitive in the United States, as compared to Ireland; there are differences in language, punctuation and the like; and Danielle’s Irish accent might be difficult to understand on interviews.
The solution: an American co-author.
Search for a co-author begins
After reviewing possibilities, the choice was Jamie Little of NASCAR and X Games reporting fame. “Girls like Jamie,” Danielle says, “and men want to date her. She is the nicest person, so professional. Her success is no accident.”
Essential Car Care for Women
In the American version of the book, released earlier in 2013, Jamie added chapters and instructional photos to the book, changing the language to make it more United States-friendly. Tips share how to save money, how to avoid wasting money, how to be smart when you talk to a mechanic, and what to do when something goes wrong. “The tone is not patronizing,” Danielle says. “It’s more like–let’s do this together. The book fits in your glove compartment and is meant to be a fun, easy- to-understand reference manual.”
Watch for the author interview of Jamie Little, coming soon on the DIY Garage Auto Blog.
Editor • DIY’er