Journalist as Author: Matt Coyne, Dummy: The Comedy and Chaos of Real-Life Parenting
By Phoebe-Jane Boyd
22 Jan 2021
who are also struggling right now with the balance of homeworking and spending 24/7
with the kids, writer/author/parenting influencer Matt Coyne knows your pain.
written the books Man vs Baby, Man vs Toddler and Dummy: The
Comedy and Chaos of Real-Life Parenting – and currently full-time ‘dadding’
during lockdown himself – Matt has much wisdom to share. Or, at least, a
realistic view of the beauty/soul-suckingness of parenting while attempting to
write something that makes sense.
for more on Matt’s books, his favourite pieces of writing and what he’s working
on this year.
introduce your books in a couple of sentences?
are basically about the chaos and comedy of becoming a parent and how having
kids is the greatest, most beautiful and life-changing… and soul-suckingly
terrible thing you can ever do.
tell us about how you came to write each of them?
months after my little boy was born, I wrote a post on what I’d learned about
being a dad so far and it went viral.
Within a week of posting, this
thing had been shared hundreds of thousands of times and all over the world… by bloggers, vloggers, TV, Radio and even movie
stars like Ashton Kutcher.
A couple of months
after that I set up the Man vs Baby Facebook page and I started to get messages
to the page from literary agents asking if I’d thought about writing a book.
So, I wrote a couple of chapters, my now agent Euan, took it to the publishers,
and a week or so later I was signing a book deal. It was an insane and exciting
time… right up until the point that I realised I had another 80,000 words to
write… then I sh*t myself.
working on another book, or do you have other projects under way?
currently working on a TV script, my first non-fiction book and a kid’s book, (which
is a joint collaboration with my little boy, Charlie). I’m also back full-time ‘dadding’
in lockdown… So, in reality, I’m getting almost nothing done!?
offer any advice to other journalists thinking about writing a book like Dummy:
The Comedy and Chaos of Real-Life Parenting?
social media. Obviously, if you can build a following then it will be easier to
snare an agent or a publisher. But, just as importantly, it’s a great way to
explore a subject, hone your writing, test it on an audience and toughen
yourself up to criticism, which is all part of the submission and editing
piece of advice for fellow writers/bloggers/journalists parenting at home while
working right now?
said, I’m not getting a great deal done at the moment so not sure how valuable
my advice would be!? One thing I would say is take the pressure off yourself. Just
because you’re not adding to a wordcount doesn’t mean you’re being
unproductive. Going for a walk or watching TV can be just as valuable if not
more so. Wordcount might be King but inspiration and ideas are God.
books are you reading right now, or about to pick up?
rest of the universe, I’m reading Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club,
which is great (I’m also begrudgingly reading a lot of 101 Bums and The
Dinosaur that Pooped A Planet).
any other examples of your everyday writing that you’re especially proud of or
would just like to share?
Bizarrely, that first viral post has now been seen by over 20 million people, so that is the thing that changed everything for me, so I’ll always be proud of it. You can read it here.
Alternatively, the best response I’ve ever had to a journalistic piece was something I wrote for The Guardian. It was about my dad and titled ‘Me, My Dad and The Phantom Flyer’ and I’m really proud of that for different reasons. You can read that here.
available for freelance commissions, speaker opportunities or other roles?
I recently did a TedTalk at The University of Cyprus that really whet my
appetite to do more speaking engagements and I love meeting people at book
events, etc. And I’m always open to freelance writing; writing is still what I
get the biggest kick from.
If I’m a
PR professional with a story or another opportunity for you, how should I get
You can find me as @manversusbaby on all the social medias and at man-vs-baby.co.uk. Just give me a shout!