Looking back and reflecting on the time and energy I invested during the first quarter of 2015, I realize that I have learned a lot! It is one thing to have a dream of one day writing full-time. It is another thing to make it a reality. I am a realist at heart so (thankfully) I had no delusions that I would experience a significant learning curve - spot on with that prediction!
Although I have read children's literature for the majority of my life in one setting or another (and remain convinced it is some of the very best writing!), taught the characteristics of quality children's literature to pre- and in-service elementary educators, and even taken a summer course on writing for children, I knew relatively little about the publishing industry side of things. So...I spent considerable time early on exploring different publishing options - surfing the internet, emailing, calling, talking with published colleagues and strangers alike. In the end, as with so much in life, it came down this: TIME and MONEY.
Because I wanted to place a published copy of Grandma's Handgrown Love into the hands of my Gran as soon as possible (she will be 97 at the anticipated release date, 6/1/15), and because my husband had zero reservations about investing our money in my first writing endeavor, the choice was clear!
What I Learned:
Traditional experience which (typically) requires:
- working to find an agent to present work on author's behalf (requires time and possibly, money)
- write query letters and submit sample pages
- once publisher selects work, finalize book contract
- work with an editor
- if book is an illustrated text, publisher selects artist
- timeframe from manuscript to publication (could be less or, likely more) 18 months-3 years
- publisher determines book format(s) (soft cover, hard cover, e-book, audio book, etc.)
- publisher markets and sells book
- publisher owns rights to book
- pay author some percentage of sales - royalties
- no financial investment on my part (unless agent charges a fee)
Self-publishing experience which (typically) requires:
- author hires illustrator, if desired
- author determines timetable for publication date
- author determines book format(s) (soft cover, hard cover, e-book, audio book, etc.)
- author markets and sells book
- author retains all rights to work
- author receives 100% of all royalties after printing costs (there are no printing costs for an e-book format)
- author pays for all expenses associated with publishing and marketing (including editorial support if desired/needed)
It has been a learning process and it has been a very rewarding process. I can hardly wait to hold the published titles in my hands! Words I have shared repeatedly as an educator over the past 30 years still ring true....
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go.”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!