It has always been a dream of mine, to oneday write and illustrate a children’s book.
Throughout the years, I gave it a go. It’s true what they say, it’s harder than it looks! I sat down many times and tried to write something and it never came out how I wanted it to. Then getting the illustrations to work with the story, was even harder. Illustrations need to be a story within themselves, I’m still trying to master that skill.
So, after many years (pretty much my whole adult life so far) of picking up a pen and putting it down again, trying to get a story out, I finally wrote “What are you Grateful for Little Bug?”
I did the illustrations first, creating Grateful Bug’s image, then the themed illustrations. The story brewed in my head as I did them.
After weeks of drawing and writing, it was complete. Family members asked how I did it so quickly. The answer is that it takes me forever to come up with the ideas (years somtimes) but once I get them, they tend to flow.
I submitted my illustrations and story to several publishers and after many weeks, I got lots of no thank yous back.
I was a bit disappointed, but deep down, I knew it would happen someday.
So the story went on the back burner. Shoved up on the top shelf of my wardrobe. The dream stayed in my heart though, just waiting.
Life carried on for a few years. I got inspired again. I sent it off to a couple of other publishers.
One sent me a really nice response, they loved the concept and really thought it should be published, but it was still a no. This really encouraged me. They wouldn’t say those words if they didn’t mean them surely?
One of the things that I had done in the mean time, that I didn’t realise how valuable it would be at the time, was start a facebook page about my art, (Sez’ Art). I had just a few followers, but it has built up over the years. This meant that I had followers encouraging me along the way.
So, I was still putting the story on the back burner and then picking it up again, while I was still teaching full time. I started to investigate self publishing. The trouble was, I wasn’t tech savy anough to get the story digitally loaded and ready for publishing. So, back to the drawing board.
The game changer came, when I contacted a local author and she told me to join the closed Facebook page for Indie Authors. I did, and I quietly watched from the wings as other authors posted about their successes. I felt out of my depth. Then oneday, I bravely posted my dillemma. I told them how I wanted to self publish, but I had no idea where to start.
Then one member responded. He told me about a local guy named Fraser, who had expertise in that area. He said to contact him and he might help.
I had nothing to lose, so I sent Fraser an e mail. He told me to pop in and see him…and the rest is history!
When I went to see Fraser, I pulled out my hand drawings and a typed up story. Fraser took one look and said, “No problem.”
Straight away he had found the best self publishing company to use. Then he told me to scan the images and story and e mail them to him. I did, and Fraser began to get the images polished and formatted with the text. I could never have done all this without him.
Each day I was teaching (I love my teaching job) and in my heart there was a little fire. The little fire was there from the knowledge that a dream was being realised. It’s quite a special feeling. It’s also scary too. There was cost involved, I had times when I worried that no one would buy the book!
After months of meeting with Fraser after school, finalising images and proof reading. The book was ready to be sent off for printing. The publishing company that we used was Ingram Spark in Australia. We had to get one copy made first, just to make sure that it was o.k. I’m a pretty inpatient person, so you can imagine how excrutiating it was for the process to take months and then have to wait a few weeks for one copy to arrive. That’s where Fraser was so valuable again, he reigned my impatience in and made sure the process was done properly.
There will never be a word to describe the day that that first copy arrived!
I was out hanging the washing, when my middle son Ben came out and called me.
He had the parcel in his hands. I was shaking as I opened it. Tears came when I saw it. A life time dream, realised. I was holding my first published story. What are you Grateful for Little Bug? was a book.
We sat and read it over and over, relishing it and checking for mistakes. Then after a few days, we ordered 60 copies.
The wonderful thing was that my amazing facebook supporters and friends had already preordered those copies. It was an amazing feeling posting off orders to people.
The downside of using the Australian publisher was that I could only order a certain number at a time, to avoid paying custom tax. Each bulk order takes a few weeks to get to me, so I had to make sure that I had enough stock coming. I also didn’t want to have too much stock and not be able to sell it. It is and still is a fine balance.
I also realised that I was going to need a website. Popping a post on Facebook once again lead me in the right direction. A work colleague told me that his wife Cherie, from Stellar Creative Marketing, could do that for me. There was cost involved with setting this up, but I’m glad that I sought help in that area. It meant that people could purchase the book easily and my website looks more polished than I could ever have done!
A year on, I have released another book, “When I Metamorphasize!” It was easier the second time around, I knew what to expect, but just as exciting.
Now I am about to publish my first chapter book for children. I’m still teaching full time, but I’m hoping oneday that my books will support me and I can spend my days writing and drawing.
Here’s a few pointers to leave you with…
If you’re wanting to do what I’ve done, do these things IMMEDIATELY!!!
- Start a Facebook and Instagram page with your journey and creative endeavours in it. It takes a while to build up followers so start today! People love being a part of your journey.
- Keep writing and drawing as much as you can, oneday it will fall into place.
- Observe everything around you, you’ll be surprised what might inspire you.
- Don’t give up. It’s O.k to leave it for while, but pick it up and try again.
- Ask questions, don’t think that you’re saupposed to know what to do. Everyone got where they are with some help along the way.
- Set funds aside, there are some big costs initially if you want to do it properly.
- Start following inspiring Facebook pages of people who are succeeding. Don’t see them as a threat, see them as proof that it can be done, so you can too! Contact them and ask questions, most people love to help others succeed.
I’m not making tonnes of money from this…yet… but I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve learnt to be patient and to enjoy the journey. Please share this post with anyone who might need inspiring.
Once again, thanks for being on this journey with me. X