Pick Yourself Up

I promised when I began this blog that I was going to share what works and doesn’t work in independent publishing, which to me must include the ups and downs. This past week has been a bit on the tough side. Here I was, sailing along at the top of my game, or so it felt. I joined a group of fellow authors to give away one of our books during Teacher Appreciation Week. It was fun, especially when I needed to do little but get my book and whatever else was needed to them by certain deadlines. At this point in my ‘career’ some of this took time. My teammates seemed so accomplished—and young enough to be my granddaughters. I was learning so much from simply watching what they were doing.

Anyway, everything was moving along smoothly. There was some discussion that we weren’t giving away as many books as they had thought we would. And that despite them being free ebooks. But I was happy. From what I could tell there would be 30 new people reading Absurd, Said Bird.

Then came the crash. One of my ‘partners’ emailed me privately that I needed to look at my Kindle book—which I didn’t do immediately, I’ll admit. But a few hours later I received the same sort of message in another private post. You can bet I hit the keys then. And what did I discover? My Kindle book was out of whack, with words spilling off the page and more. How could that be? I was sure I had checked it early on and had seen none of this. Or had I? That’s what I’m now wondering. Being so new to all this, did I think, oh well, a few overflowing words won’t matter?

My illustrator is the best there is in both work ethic and talent. She is also my designer for this series. Minutes after I emailed her about our problem, she was on it. It took more than a day for her to figure out what should have been done differently. We had both learned something.  Now all is well and off we go until something else trips us up. That’s the other thing about independent publishing. It’s not only what is done right that you get credit for, it’s what you do wrong. For some reason, you feel the wrongs are what everyone is going to remember. And you feel in some way you let the team down, though it only affected my book.

There’s a reason to always keep this tune in your head,  ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again,’ because that’s what you feel you are doing. Starting all over again. Is that a bad thing? We shall see. What I need to keep reminding myself is that I am still in the toddler stage and to keep in mind how toddlers might not dust themselves off, but they definitely pick themselves up and start all over again. And again. And again. Thinking of it from another perspective, it’s not starting over, it’s simply putting things edited and  in their right file. Something else I will be writing about soon.


Getting Side-tracked




The following is exactly why we do what we do. Imagine how running across something like this might change your day, your hopes, and keep you pushing ever onward.  When I began, I had an idea how I was going to organize this blog but something like this review, and the things that come up in your everyday writing life are going to take the fore, I’m thinking. I’m a person who works on impulse and usually jumps in without thinking. So, consider yourself warned.

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog was to try many of things suggested as good avenues by other creatives. But they need to at least make a little sense to me. I would then share my experiences on this blog, what worked and what didn’t work for me. That is still my plan. But often I will throw in something about that which remains to be seen. Like today.

I think I mentioned in an earlier blog that I discovered Reedsy early on in this venture. I was looking for an editor and hooked up with Jessica from https://emerald-books.com/  So I have continued to view and use Reedsy at various times along the way. There are fees involved for most things you want, but to me they are worth it for the quality you get in return. Everything is vetted to the max.

Now to get to my story. This year I am determined to learn marketing. After publishing seven books I’ve discovered I have done everything backwards, which I talk about in other posts.  So this year I decided to focus all my attention on two books and see what happened. We, as writers, love every book we write. Why else would we release them? But as businesspeople, we need to figure out what works. Where we should aim our limited energy.

I chose two books, Absurd, Said Bird, because I have fallen in love with Mouse (the main character) and Grandma’s Kitchen because I love this story of Grandma and girls carrying on a great family tradition. From the get-go, I thought Grandma’s Kitchen would be top dog.

Everything I’ve done, I’ve entered both books. I did a Goodreads Giveaway, which I will talk about in a later post. Absurd beat Grandma by around 500 requests– if I remember right. There have been other things I may talk about later. Right now, I will focus on my Reedsy https://reedsy.com/ reviews. Here I submitted both Absurd and Grandma. Both received five stars from reviewer Kameron Brooks. So far so good. Then when a book is released, it is in the running for a chance to be on the featured books of the week list—depending on how many upvotes the book gets. I still have no idea where these people come from. I mentioned on Facebook my need for upvotes and recognized the name of only one person who upvoted my books. But here’s the kicker, Absurd made the list, but Grandma didn’t.

No way to describe the first-time pleasure something like this brings. Didn’t matter at all if it didn’t mean much in the scheme of things. It was a step. A teeny, tiny baby step. Which I happily shared on Facebook and did get a few likes.

But then came the magic. People are still upvoting my books, it seems, and you get messages from Reedsy via email when they do. Last night I was looking at my notifications on Reedsy when I discovered the following. Absurd, again!  I have no idea who this man is, but I can tell you one thing, he sure made my night a sleep of dreams.

Thank you Fazlul Karim, wherever you are.

The Absurd, Said Bird book is an absolute delight! From the moment I began reading, I was transported to a world of whimsy and wonder. The characters are so lovable and charming, with unique personalities that make them unforgettable.

The illustrations are breathtaking and perfectly complement the enchanting story. Every page is filled with vibrant colors and intricate details that make you feel like you’re right there alongside the characters, exploring this magical world.

What I appreciate most about this book is the way it encourages children to embrace their imagination and think outside the box. The message of the story is both heartwarming and empowering, reminding us that sometimes the most absurd ideas can lead to the greatest adventures.

Overall, I can’t recommend the Absurd, Said Bird book enough. It’s a masterpiece of children’s literature that will capture the hearts of readers of all ages. Thank you to the author and illustrator for creating such a beautiful and inspiring book!


More on Getting Started

As I’ve said , my first books were published around six months ago. It took awhile for me to decide how I wanted all my picture books to look when published—and I’m sure this is a process still in the making as I learn. At the moment, my books are first published with IngramSpark , hardback, then paperback, with a kindle edition being added shortly. Why? That was my question exactly. Why would anyone offer a kindle edition of a picture book? But I finally understood when I began reviewing picture books. Kindle is an easy, and often free (well, I choose books when they are free, anyway). Why do I do this? Because everything I have read from the beginning of this indie journey hammers in the importance of reviews, which we will go into at a later time. And because I am still trying to figure out how to get them. Here are the three reasons I review picture books.  #1 It shows me what is being published since I stick with books published within the past couple of years. #2 It shows me what works. I will not go into here the way too many self-published books that have not been properly edited or the zillion books with poor illustrations and forced rhyme. #3 And most importantly, every book, as well as every thing,  can use a review in the world of today. Now I have to confess that I do not give reviews to any book I feel rates a 2 or less. Sadly, authors will learn this on their own.

Do I put my books up myself? No. I decided early on that I needed direction. And I already had a million other things I was trying to understand. For me, this was a wise decision, and I am lucky to have a budget that gives me room. I count my blessings it was Emerald Books I found, www.emerald_books.com. Keep in mind, how you think and how they think doesn’t always align at first. That’s why it is so important to find someone who listens, who explains, who is willing to work with you. And if this makes any sense, someone who makes you feel that they aren’t with you solely for the money. Always keeping in mind, we are the newbies.

Option two works even better for authors on a tight budget. Find an illustrator/publisher. They are out there. I work with three at the moment and love knowing that my books are in good hands. Think about it, it’s a collaboration, their names are on the book, too. It only makes sense that they would want a perfect product as much as you do.  As writers of picture books, we need an illustrator. Dual-purpose is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Maybe a poor choice of words, but you get the picture.

Why do I use IngramSpark?  Mainly for distribution. I feel some of my books will fit well in libraries. And I love seeing what might happen when my book gets to distribution.  I’ll discuss this more in the future and by then we may even see if some of my tries are working. At this point, I have no idea what to expect. That’s another problem with being a newcomer; learning indie is akin to learning another language, which for me takes a long, long time. If ever. Let’s hope learning the rest of Indie’s secrets goes better.

To Website or Not to Website


Something I didn’t do, and now feel to be so important for anyone serious about becoming a known writer, is to get some sort of website up in the beginning, a ‘gathering place’ where those interested can get to know you. Simple is fine. You can always fancy it up down the road when you’ve made lots of money selling your books and have more that you want to share than you have room for. My first website went live last week. That’s the story. I thought I knew and had not done enough homework.

Before committing, do the homework. Go to Amazon and look at the top selling picture books, then check out the author’s website. What grabs you? You’ll find that not only is this not work, it can be quite fun. Though sometimes a bit overwhelming. Remember, these authors have most likely been in the business for years. Baby steps. Step by consistent step, at a pace that fits *us* is the only way we will ever reach our goal.  And, from what I hear, you can build your own website, if you want to.

I’m pretty sure I could have built my own, but I found myself too wrapped up in learning the indie process, so I looked around and hired one of the biggest website builders in the industry. I thought it would be quicker. Wrong!  I should have done more homework. Just because it’s big doesn’t mean it gives a fig about you or promoting picture books. Three months later my website was ‘done’ with lots of place holders.  I hated everything about it. With all those place holders I felt I was basically building my own site while throwing big bucks down the toilet. Oh, the guilt! That being said, I blame no one but me.

Actually, I blame my award-winning, writer friend Kirby. Why didn’t she think to update her site earlier? It would have saved me a bundle. A few months ago, Kirby decided to upgrade her website and chose www.websydaisy.com. Be careful of envy. I loved her new site so much I ended up flushing the toilet and there went my misspent $$$. Am I sorry? Not one bit. Or so I keep telling myself. The good news is I got to spend the past week working back and forth with Jenny, who I felt cared about (even though she had to have had trouble translating what I was trying to say) what I was aiming for.

Here’s another MAJOR thing to keep in mind. How many books will you have to sell to cover the cost when you do this sort of thing?

Here, again, is where more homework comes in. You need to shop around. Think of it as more fun. Search the internet for web-builders. There are a zillion out there. In all price-ranges. Be choosy. Many book designers also build websites. Find the right one for you. And be careful of those who come to you. Check these out especially well.

The main reason I feel an early website is so important is so you don’t end up like me, feeling unfinished. Not wanting to share much about my books, not wanting to dive into social media, not having a place to gather addresses for a mailing list and not having the site address everyone seems to ask for.  Stay tuned. I now have the website I coveted. It remains to be seen if my thinking was right. Watch out world, here I come.

Step by Step

The book that led me back to writing



It was January 2022. The month that changed my life forever. Well, this chapter of my life anyway. By the end of March that same year, I hired my first illustrators, found an editor, a designer, and dove in. I read every book I could get my hands on about self-publishing. I didn’t spend much time on the writing process itself, since in the 1990s I had published four picture books with some of what we today call “The Big Five.” That was before my 20-year sabbatical, which you can find in About Me on my website. In late September, my first indie picture book—CECIL THE TOO SOLID GHOST was published, followed closely by SANTA CLAWS.  Both books were seasonal and released way too late for their season. Or so I think now, since I didn’t sell a single copy of either book. Lesson #1.

Here are a few other tidbits I have uncovered in my whole six months as an indie author. First, and foremost, indie focus is on books for adults. Nothing had changed. It was the same when I published traditionally. A sort of “That’s nice, but when are you going to grow up and write for adults?” attitude.  How many books do you think would be sold if readers hadn’t learned the love of reading when they were children? A personal peeve, since my passion has always been picture books.

My second worry came from reading all those how to succeed books. It took months for me to realize that most of these writers, who were selling thousands of copies, had been publishing for years. That’s when I gave myself permission NOT to be an overnight success. Tough, but doable. I hope.

Which brings us to the reason for this blog. I’m hoping, every two weeks, to discuss what I have found helpful—or not so much. And why. This is not a success story. It’s a story in the making. And most stories, happy ending or not, require lots and lots of redoes and editing.


The above book is my memoir, the book that led to my return to writing.



Coming soon

Tricia will be posting to the blog soon!