I am so happy that my friend, Shannon, over at Radio Chick Reflections agreed to do another guest post for me. We live far apart from one another (California and Canada), but we get each other and subsequently share some of the same interests. One being writing and publishing our own books. Shannon has already self published one children’s book and is in the process of doing the same with her second! Go Shannon! And now, without further ado, Shannon over at Radio Chick Reflections:
I’m honoured to do a guest post for my friend Tammie’s blog, The Graying Chronicles. Although I haven’t met Tammie – we know each other through Twitter, and have bonded over our similar love for the Imagination Movers(!) – she has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters as I’ve done something I really, really wanted to do: write children’s books.
I’ve always been a big believer in having dreams and ambitions, and in finding a way to realize them. The dreaming part is easy. However, it’s not always easy to find a way to realize them, and, let’s be honest, life gets in the way. It gets busy, and our passions get set aside and put on the shelf to collect dust while all our responsibilities are taken care of. That most certainly happened to me. I used to write a lot when I was younger. In fact, I even went away to school to be a journalist. But after I worked at a television station in Toronto, Ontario for a few years, I decided I wanted to do something different, and I ended up becoming a high school teacher. And for the last 13 years that is what I have done, along with becoming a wife and a mom.
As that all happened, my writing (and other things I had a passion for) stopped. I didn’t think I had time for it, and I didn’t make time for it. That changed at the beginning of this year. I had seen Tammie writing blog posts for a blog hop called Ketchup With Us, and though I didn’t think I was good enough or prepared to participate, I saw the prompt for their first blog hop of the new year, and decided to write a post for my work blog (at a radio station – where I work part-time while on extended leave from teaching). It was about goals for the new year. And it got me thinking seriously about making the most of the time I have at home before the craziness of going back to my full-time teaching job starts again. Most importantly, it forced me to write down what I wanted to do (with the spare time I had), and make a commitment to do it.
One of the things on that list was make time to follow my bliss. Initially, it meant to start singing lessons again, after 14 years, and record a CD. However, it quickly turned into writing a children’s book. I already had an idea, based on some experiences I’ve had in adulthood in my job, and so I just wrote…and wrote…and wrote…Having two children who love books means I also have many, many books on my shelves here, and so I knew my idea was a different one, although it dealt with a topic that is commonplace: bullying. I thought about contacting a publisher, but I really had no idea how to do that: Where do I go? Who do I contact? What do I send? And, to be honest, I thought it would be just be my mom and me who would be buying the book, so I decided I would try to self-publish. A former high school student of mine has recently self-published several novels (a whole different beast!), and so I got the idea from her and did some research. I found the Blurb website, which allowed me to download a program called BookSmart, an incredibly easy program to use that has a good variety of text and picture layouts.
Self-publishing is great because you do have total control of everything, and you don’t have to wait on publishers and worry about rejection. I am a sensitive person, and I know that if I was rejected by publishers I would feel terrible and unmotivated. And my passion for writing would, once again, be put on the shelf to collect dust. One negative about self-publishing, however, is that you have to do all of the promotion yourself. If you’re hoping to sell thousands of copies of your book, you need to do a lot of work. That wasn’t my goal. I just wanted to have something that I created sitting on a bookshelf to show my kids. It would be a symbol to them that you need to follow your dreams and make them happen. And I had very low expectations (again, I thought it would be my mom and me buying a few copies and that would be it). Fortunately we have social media to allow us to do our own promotion quickly and easily, and so I used Twitter and Facebook to announce to my friends and family that I had written a book. And to my surprise, people bought it (including my cheerleader Tammie)!
Now I have just finished my second book (I actually wrote it months ago but needed an illustrator – another thing that can be a problem when you self-publish), and I have been trying to perfect it over the last few weeks so I can finally hit the “publish” button.
I did shop this one around to a few publishers, via email only (I am a control freak and the thought of printing and sending manuscripts away without knowing what will happen to them was unsettling), but I got no responses. If that had happened with my first book, I would have been disappointed and dejected. With this one, that’s not the case. Sure, it’s disappointing when you think you have a terrific idea and you want others to think the same but they don’t. But it doesn’t mean I can’t complete my creation and put it out there for others to enjoy. And that’s why I wanted to write children’s books. I know that I have followed my bliss, I have created something I approve of, and I have written something my children will enjoy. Now to get to that CD…