Welcome! I’ve always felt that the best part of doing something – beginning a new school year, going to a special trip, building a new house—is the planning. And, yes, the planning has been fun, and very interesting, for this new publishing ‘journey,’ but I can feel it in my bones that the best is yet to come.
As mentioned in my bio, I have been away from writing for more than twenty years. Oh, I wrote, but not for publication and I never dreamed I would ever try to publish again until last January (2022) when I accidentally ran across this thing called indie publishing. It was so up my alley. And it had been around for almost my entire sabbatical. Tells you how far out of touch with publishing I was.
In one year, I will have gone from sort of wishing– way back in my mind– to having at least three, maybe even six, books in book-form by the end of 2022. Stay tuned.
What have I learned? I wish there was a measure. You know when you go on YouTube and you see that the video is going to be 23 minutes long? Well, I’m up to maybe eight minutes in indie knowledge.
At first all I could find was information on how to do books for adults. Joanna Penn http://www.thecreativepenn.com was my first discovery and is great! But I always felt I needed to ‘translate’ to fit things to the children’s books platform. But I listened and I read because I wanted to know.
One thing I did learn was how to poke around on what we once called ‘the information highway.’ Then one day I ran across Darcy Pattison’s blog, Indie Kids Books, and I was on my way. You can find her blog on her website www.darcypattison.com.
I was moving along pretty well, or so I thought, as I surfed along through her earlier posts, until I got to one on marketing. Marketing is the most important part of indie publishing, so they say. I’ve read those words over and over. She touted this great book that I of course ordered immediately. I may as well have been trying to read a book in Chinese, that’s how much I knew about indie marketing terms. I feel myself slowly getting there, steppingstone after steppingstone, across a mighty river of information.
But I have learned that there is something way more important than marketing. No matter how much you market, your books will not go anywhere if they are not the best they can be. I give thanks every day that I found Jessica Hammerman on www.reedsy.com to edit my memoir, The Quest. There I discovered she and her husband, Isaac, had a publishing company.
So, Emerald Books www.emerald-books.com published The Quest then when Isaac discovered how many picture books I was hoping to launch, he led me through the steps to becoming my own publisher, thus Write ‘em Cowgirl Publishing was born. But Jessica will continue to be my book editor and Isaac will continue as my book designer because one thing I have learned is that this business is like any other business. It’s what you invest, and where you invest it, that can make all the difference.
I read somewhere that there are something like 4000 books launched each day (or week.) That’s a lot of competition. But if your story is good and your book is clean, you have as good chance as anyone of floating your way upward. I say clean because I have read dozens of books this year with way too many typos and way too much fluff in their sentences. Good editing is no different than good house cleaning, it makes things shine. Wanting to be a writer is no different from wanting to be a classical pianist or pro football player. Some are born with natural talent but most of us have to practice, practice, practice.
Enough lecturing, had to clear my brain. From now on my posts will focus on my books and book stuff, though I can’t promise. Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love detours.
On September 14 I felt as though I had just blasted through a starting gate. Cecil the Too Solid Ghost, was launched that day. And there it was, on Amazon. My first indie picture book. Is it perfect? No. But it’s pretty darn cute. Connie L, my wonderful illustrator, and I have learned a lot on this one and, fingers crossed, I keep learning. That’s what I love most about writing. You never quite get ‘there.’
So many picture book authors want their book to be exactly as they picture it. To me that’s like eating cake without its frosting. Opening those first rough sketches feels like Christmas. Every time. I love seeing how a talented illustrator ‘sees’ my words.
Cecil looked nothing like I had envisioned. I was more imagining Casper, the friendly ghost from my childhood. But how lucky I was that Connie ‘saw’ Cecil, and his unique parents, and his ‘pocket’ full of treats. That’s what makes a good
Cecil and I have a lot in common. We are always getting side-tracked. But is that really such a bad thing if in the end everything comes together?
There was a time I wouldn’t finish the project I was working on before jumping into the next project that hit me. I remember giving someone a knitted sweater with a missing sleeve for Christmas. Probably more than once. That was when I learned to dangle the carrot. If you finish this, you can do that. And it works. Most of the time.
Cecil takes things a step further. He comes up with a way to combine two things that make him happy.
Now that I look at it, Cecil was launched before I was quite ready, which was probably not a good thing being a seasonal book. But that’s another good thing about indie…there’s always next year. Indie gives you lots of room to breathe.
Picture book two, Santa Claws, launched in early October 2022. And it just happens to be book one of my first series. Here, once again, The Fates have stepped in pointing me to a very talented illustrator, Izzy Bean. And she wants to illustrate the entire series!
I think only those who have taken 20 years off from publishing can appreciate what I’m feeling. When I stepped aside ‘instant communication’ was just beginning. I remember waiting months to hear by snail mail how my scheduled book was evolving. And it was forever before I even saw an illustration. I was shocked when Izzy sent me the first sample of a completed illustration to see how I felt about it. I’ve always known picture books are a collaboration but this went above and beyond. She wanted to know what I thought?
As time passes, and I learn more, this makes complete sense. With indie publishing, I am not only the author, I am the publisher. In traditional publishing, the illustrator has an editor to keep her pointed in the right direction. In indie publishing, tis I who needs to keep a sharp eye, to not assume, and to not be afraid to ask questions. Because (here’s the scariest part about indie), people who buy your books, buy your mistakes when you are not careful. But hopefully they will be forgiving. And, hopefully, no one buys before we fix. That’s the beauty of indie, you can fix mistakes. But, a major lesson-, 4t’s so much better when you catch mistakes before you publish.
You have probably guessed by now that things didn’t go perfectly with this launch but here it is a month later and all is well. I hope. Hard to tell until you order and hold a book in your hand. What I am learning is how great most books look in their proof stage on a computer, especially when you are new and don’t understand what you are seeing or should be looking for.