Monday, June 8, 2009

The self publishing journey starts

Dear Reader,

While I wait for Kecia to start sending me the illustrations to my book, I've been re-proofing a children's fantasy novel that I started writing back at Gettysburg College for a creative writing course with Dr. Clark. (Oh, no, that's as good as admitting how old I am!)

(FYI: This will be the second book that Good Manners Kids Stuff Press will offer. Although it's not about good manners for children, it is about children (brothers and sisters) who aren't the same as everyone else ... and how everyone learns to appreciate and value them.)

I've proofed it a gazillion times -- and each time it's not that I see a mistake, it's that I just can't help tweaking it. I plan on publishing several books in this series so I'm excited to make this one available to kids beyond my own kids, friends and family. Then I can start on the next story!

When I posted last I wrote that I'd tell you more about how Good Manners Kids Stuff Press came into being. Well, it's really quite simple -- it just did.


Isn't that interesting?

Okay -- here's the real scoop, down to the last boring detail:

As I've mentioned before, I am a wannabe author. Or, more correctly, a wannabe author of the literary type. Since I write tv commercials and direct mail kits and newsletters and brochures for my day job, I refer to myself as a writer. And I'm actually not bad. Really. It's just that I want to be an author, not a writer.

Parallel to my launching I've been writing, writing, writing. Books for toddlers, books for middle grade, romance novels, science fiction -- all kinds of books. And I've been slowly and carefully sending them off to editors and agents. I've gotten some positive feedback and also a couple of nibbles (and requests for changes) from an agent. Maybe some day soon, one of them will be optioned and I'll have made the change from writer to author that I've been working for (and dreaming of) for so many years.

In the meantime (parallel-ly -- as I mentioned above, if I can use the word that way -- or should I just say at the same time) I've been having a great time launching my site and developing products for it. A logical new product line would be manners books. Of course, it made sense that I would and could write these books. But who would produce them for me. How much would it cost?

A friend of mine who is a real, published children's book author mentioned that he had used a company called Blurb ( to make a book of his family's trip to Disney World. He said it was easy to use and that he only paid for the copy he needed.

Now, he was an artist before he wrote and illustrated his books, so I was a little leery about my ability to get something usable on Blurb. So I started with baby steps.

I searched Blurb on Google. I clicked on it, poked around, and several days later (and trips back) I finally got the courage to pick a user name, password and sign up!

(I told you -- baby steps. It's amazing I get anything done in a timely manner.)

Finally, I downloaded the template. I went through the tutorials. I thought -- I can do this! I decided to try my children's fantasy first because I still needed the illustrations for the other book. I managed to flow the copy into the format and make a cute little novel-sized book. I was so excited! And, it was all free!

But I wasn't finished -- I still needed to get the cover designed and give all the copy another read through to make sure the sentences and layout weren't messed up when I flowed in the text. I also had questions about the information I needed to put on the cover page.

I started reading all the forums and stumbled upon questions about copyrights and barcodes and isbn #s and distribution -- and how Blurb didn't handle any of that. Apparently, if I wanted to be able to distribute my book, I needed to purchase my own isbn #s. But,that wouldn't put the book on Amazon or with other distributors. And I would want my own name as the publisher rather than Blurb (which I could do for an extra cost). And there seemed to be some issue with Blurb barcodes that were different than the ones that came with isbn #s -- and the placement was weird.

Hum. Interesting. Suddenly I was confused. And, suddenly I was thinking that I might want to have more than just a stockpile of printed books available to sell on my site. Suddenly I realized that what I did to produce the book could limit or expand what I could do with it -- where I could take it and where it could go.

So -- there I was with a halfway laid-out novel and no clue what I should do next to figure out the right solution.

And that, just as it's getting so interesting, Dear Reader, is where I'll leave you tonight.

I hope you'll check back soon for my next fascinating and scintillating post on my launch of The Good Manners Kids Stuff Press.


P.S. Although I did not ultimately choose Blurb, I do want to say how impressed I was with their site and tutorials. Their templates were very easy to use (easier than what I am doing now) and the books on their site were beautiful. You can sell your books on their site in addition to your own. It's just that the more I learned about self-publishing and print on demand, and determined that I wanted to control my books' destiny, I realized I needed a more retail friendly source.

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