‘Sunburnt’ by Author Anne Gately – A Self-Published Memoir That Works on Multiple Levels

‘Sunburnt’ by Author Anne Gately – A Self-Published Memoir That Works on Multiple Levels

March 18, 2024

There are many things authors need to deal with in the lead up to their book launch, but for debut author Anne Gately, she was thrown a curve ball when she received a jury duty summons with a notification she may be needed in court for 20 weeks. Now that’s a debut author’s nightmare right there!

Luckily the court understood the importance of her book and the significance for authors of the months leading up to and after launch, and this time, gave her a pass.

And why is Anne’s book so significant?

Well, having enjoyed the privilege of reading an advance copy of her memoir Sunburnt: A Memoir of Sun, Surf and Skin Cancer – I agree with the court – she could do more good, more quickly for the community via being out and about raising visibility for her book (and the important messages it contains) than if she was tucked away in the juror’s seat.

Releasing May 1, 2024, Sunburnt follows Anne’s experience of being diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma – and her extraordinary survival thanks to being the recipient of ground breaking immunotherapy treatment by Professor Georgina Long AO and her team.

Good memoirs

make us think. They make us feel. And they make us change. I love that they take us inside a person’s experience and enable us to develop empathy and understanding while preparing us for challenges we are yet to face, as well as coming to terms with those we already have.

Anne’s honesty, vulnerability, strength and witty (sometimes hilarious) insights and outrage in Sunburnt make it essential reading

for a wide audience including anyone who participates in outdoor sport through to people with a cancer diagnosis (and their families), medical students and health professionals.

But the book is not just a memoir, it’s a call to action to the community, sporting organisations and government to better protect Australians from sun damage; and also, to the advertising industry to do better when it comes to how tanning is portrayed in Australia.

It can be hard to balance personal experience and research in a memoir, but Anne’s done a great job and the book flows beautifully, much like the water on her beloved ocean swims.

Anne’s been able to achieve this, not just because of natural talent, but also, the process she’s gone through (and the people she’s tapped into) during the creation of the book.

From her online writing community to the professionals she’s engaged with on the publishing side, through to her real world community of medico’s to swimming pals, Anne has brought them all along on her book writing journey.

I’m especially impressed with how Anne reached out for a foreword, advance praise and testimonials for her book.

Endorsements are such a crucial – and sometimes difficult thing for indie authors to initiate and follow through on –

which is why I devoted a chapter to it in Look-It’s Your Book!. Anne’s done a great job reaching out, and she’s written a great book which is why people including Prof Tanya Buchanan (CEO Cancer Council Australia), Deborah Hutton (media personality and cancer survivor), Mike Hill (Director of the film, Conquering Skin Cancer), Scott Maggs (Founder & CEO Skin Check Champions) and Professor Georgina Long AO (Co-Medical Director, Melanoma Institute Australia and 2024 Australian of the Year) said ‘yes’.

I first met Anne

when I guest presented for Kelly Irving’s Expert Author Community on the topics of self-publishing and author marketing. Anne went on to get a copy of Look-It’s Your Book! and used it as one of her publishing guides and would ask me a few questions every now and then when she hit a stumbling block. She also took up access to the Bold Authors course How to Get Your Book into Australian Libraries and I hope many libraries will get Sunburnt in.

Anne was inspired on her journey by another indie author too, Sarah Martin, author of the memoir Dear Psychosis. Sarah has been wonderful in using her self-published book to raise awareness of mental health issues and I’d have to call her another star student of Look-It’s Your Book!, taking all the ideas and advice, running with them and putting her own very special stamp on them.

Now that Anne is at the other end of the writing and publishing process – and about to step big time into book marketing mode – I asked her a little about her self-publishing journey so far.

Why didn’t you go the traditional publishing route?

Anne:  Various reasons including:

  1. I thought the book might take too long to get to market due to their lead times. I knew I had a conference I’d be speaking at in November, and also the release of a doco I’m in so I didn’t want to miss those opportunities.
  2. I felt my market was going to start out ‘niche’ and I knew I had contacts in those markets so didn’t want to give away revenue to a publisher when I have the contacts myself.
  3. After the initial appraisal of my manuscript by writing coach Lu Sexton my takeaway was that I didn’t think a publisher would be that interested.
  4. Because my career has been in advertising & marketing I thought I should be able to put my skills to good use on myself and my book. It seemed like authors who had publishers had to do a lot of that themselves any how so I couldn’t see the benefit of a publisher.
  5. Whilst I haven’t written the book for financial gain, from the info I could gain from other authors, I felt it was more worthwhile for me to invest the time and have increased royalties, rather than handover to a publisher

What difficulties have you come across during the self-publishing process?

Anne: The hardest thing was learning a whole new industry and second guessing myself on decisions. That’s why your book, Look-It’s Your Book! has been so wonderful to have as a resource and guide, and also it’s been great being a part of a book writing community (the Expert Author Community).

What has been the best thing about self-publishing Burnt?

Anne: The best thing is definitely being able to use my skills and contacts for my own purpose as opposed to for a client or a big corporate. My contacts have been just so wonderful and supportive – it’s been very humbling. I just hope I don’t disappoint them when they read the book. (note from Anna: there’s no way they will be disappointed – it’s a great book!).

What tips do you have for other writers thinking about self-publishing?


  1. Announcing I was writing a book was hugely daunting – it’s one of the best things I did though. It helped me to get my head around becoming an author and by bringing people along on the journey I definitely have a lot of people cheering me on and providing support
  2. Find some kind of book writing community either in real life or online. It’s great to be going through the process of learning to write a book and all the other publishing requirements with other people.
  3. As Kelly Irving says, ‘it’s going to be messy, rather than linear’. Embrace it and just keep pushing through, you’ll have aha moments when things will come together.
  4. If you know why you’re writing the book, go with your gut.

Thanks Anne!

Head to Anne Gately’s author website to find out more about her and her book Sunburnt. And what a strong book cover too!


More in my 2024 blog series of authors and their experience of self-publishing, including their top tips for indie authors.