If you grew up watching Disney Channel Original movies, then you are well-versed in the Cinderella or The Prince and the Pauper spin offs. This was my childhood which leaked into my adulthood. I am also obsessed with my dog, so the idea of The Prince and The Pupper kind of came organically. After telling everyone about my story idea and getting so much positive feedback, I realized that I really should do something with it. As an elementary school teacher I am surrounded by children’s books, but the idea to write a children’s book did not come immediately.
When I finally decided, “Yes I do want to write a children’s book!” I started doing some serious research. With my profession, I do not have a lot of money to blow on a pipe dream, and I wasn’t one hundred percent confident in my writing abilities. I knew that if I was going to do this, it needed to be inexpensive and practical for a normal person like me to accomplish. I found a lot of different companies were you could either pay up front to have your book self-publish or pay a monthly fee. For me, paying to have my book publish wasn’t an option because I wasn’t sure if this book would even be decent.
I eventually came to createspace.com. This company is part of Amazon, and is completely free to use. I read a lot of articles about the pros and cons of createspace compared to some other websites that offer self publishing. Createspace just seemed like the best fit for someone who was wanting to publish a book for fun and didn’t want to invest a lot of money. Createspace has been bought by Kindle Direct Publishing. It is the same service, just transferred over to a different domain.
Once I found this company, I knew this would be possible for me to do and I started writing. At first I just started a normal story and got almost half way through. I started to play with the idea of making my book rhyme. Obviously writing a book that rhymes is much more difficult and pretty ambitious for a first time writer, but it just felt like something I needed to do. After I decided this, it took me FOREVER to go back and change everything I already wrote into the new rhyming scheme and still have it make sense.
When I was beginning to near the end of the writing phase, I started to figure out the illustrations. My husband is very artistic. My initial idea was to have him sketch the artwork, then scan it, and trace and color it using Illustrator and a stylus. It seemed like a good plan. We finished the cover and I was really happy with it. Then we tried to illustrate the first page. It took 6 hours and the characters were creepy to say the least. I realized that this was not going to be possible for two people who are not artists or graphic designers. I started to get discouraged at this point and thought this book was never going to happen. I imagined that hiring an illustrator would cost a fortune and I wasn’t willing to invest.
I’m the type of person that will refuse to stop a project until it is finished, or go into a complete panic attack. After some time living with this half-completed project of mine, I decided that I needed to finish this book and I needed to find someone to illustrate it. I stumbled upon the website Fiverr. This website is full of freelance artists all over the world who are willing to help with projects for a fairly cheap price. On this website I was able found someone that I really liked and at a price that was almost too good to be true.
Once I found the illustrator, I knew that this book was really happening and I stared posting about it on social media, and really getting my writing ready for publishing. If you know me, you know that I am the Typo Queen. I know, kind of an interesting label for a person to have that thinks they are capable of becoming an author, but here I am. I knew that I probably had so many typos in my story, so I had a slue of friends and family read the story over and over again just to make sure it was perfect. This part of the process really stressed me out, because I was putting myself out there, proclaiming that I was capable of writing a book. I was terrified that people would read it and think, “grammatical error here, grammatical error there…” I started researching typos and errors in published books and found that most books have grammatical errors or typos even when they pay an editor! Harry Potter is said to have a typo every 30 or so pages. After finding this out, my nerves were slightly put at ease and I knew that I just needed to publish it.
One of the hardest parts of the process would have to be the formatting of all of the components of the book on the createspace website. This is the part that I think would not be possible for just anyone to do. Luckily, I have a very tech-savy husband who has able to put together all my writings and illustrations and have them approved through the createspace website.
I started going to some local book stores and asking about putting my book in their local author section. At one book store, the store clerk I was talking to seemed really excited about my book. She asked me who I had illustrating it. I told her it was someone I found on Fiverr, and I could see her expression change immediately. I mean, I still got my book in that bookstore, but I realized that outsourcing someone instead of finding a local illustrator was not a very “cool” thing to do. I understand that it’s always better to “shop local,” but at the place I was when I was creating this book, this was the only way to make it happen. I’m happy with how my illustrations turned out and I don’t regret my decision at all. Since I actually made quite a bit of money with The Prince and the Pupper and my confidence about writing is a lot higher, I think with my next book I will be finding a more local illustrator.
Although self-publishing is very nontraditional, I truly believe the pros of it completely out way the cons. This book is entirely my own and I can do whatever I want with it. I imagine that getting your book picked up by a publisher would be much more lucrative, but the odds of that happening to anyone are slim to none. Besides, I am quite content with the profit I have been able to make with my book. It will definitely not be replacing my day job anytime soon, but it is way more than I would have expected. I published my book over four months ago, and I am still busy with events. This process has made me realize that writing and publishing a book does take some talent, but more importantly it take perseverance. There are so many extremely talented people in this world, but if you don’t stay determined it means nothing. I’m very proud of myself for staying persistent even when it felt like it was time to give up. It has fueled me into writing more meaningfully and diversely. Say tuned for more books coming your way.