I often wonder what I could possibly do to contribute to our ever-changing world. During my adolescent years, I recall happy memories going downstairs to our basement and pretend that I was a teacher.
There I was talking in an empty room displaying math problems on a blackboard, a gift I received for my birthday. My students were my toy dolls. Needless to say, I never did become a teacher, but my love for children increased with each passing day.
After my three children were considered adults, I realized the most precious together time was reading to them. It didn’t matter if it was a bedtime story or just fun leisure time reading. Those memories will linger in my heart forever.
Now, with twelve grandchildren and one great-grandchild, I not only read stories but create them. While playing with my seven-year-old grandson and his racing game, I thought that it would be more fun if all the racing cars had names. My imagination, along with my family’s support and grandson’s enthusiasm, encouraged me to write “my children’s story”. He would call me each week from Florida, and ask if I finished my story. After weeks of being asked the same question, I finally said yes. I figured my answer would make him happy, end of story! I was amazed when his reply was “great grandma, now put it in a book”. Out of mouths of babes, right?
Explaining to him the process of publishing a book was somewhat disappointing to him. He couldn’t understand why it would take so long before he could hold the book in his hands. The mere thought of me entering into unfamiliar territory was scary and was going to be quite challenging. The editing and more editing, punctuation and many rewrites took forever. At that point, I knew it was ready for submission.
After searching for several months I started submitting my children’s story to publishers. With each rejection letter, my hopes diminished. Finally, I received wonderful news…. a publisher told me my story was a “neat concept”. Needless to say, my grandson was overjoyed with excitement when he heard the news, including yours truly. It took another couple of months collaborating with the illustrator making sure that what I envisioned was on each page. It was when I held my book, that I felt my life was heading in a new direction.
Considering the pros and cons, I chose self-publishing. Having exclusive rights to my book convinced me that was the way to go, but that is an individual choice. I also realized that receiving any recognition about my story would be jeopardized. I’ve asked myself a question which I’m sure many of you have asked yourself….when purchasing a book do you consider buying it because it was traditionally published or for the story itself? After all, a good story is a good story. Then there is the genre, I write non-fiction fully illustrated children’s stories in the three to nine age group.
When a child looks at a book the first thing they notice is the cover and then they glance through its pages. Do they really care who published it? The publishing industry has yet to acknowledge or even consider reading a self-published book. I made several phone calls promoting myself and my books, their first question was whether my books were self-published. How frustrating, discouraging and unjust. Even by offering a reimbursement on books that did not sell, was to no avail. What, just because my books are self-published they are not worth reading? What would it take to knock down that wall that divides us?
I’m proud to say I have four children’s books published. My books have been warmly received by both children and parents. They are inspirational stories which address the true meaning of friendship, determination and that anything is possible when you believe in it. A significant amount of my time is spent supporting a non-profit mobile literary organization. One of my books is about this organization, and over 5000 books were purchased by a traditional publisher. It was a privilege to forgo my royalties and to know that my book would be given to children that don’t have access to them. It boggles my mind to think of the many children in rural areas that don’t even own a book, let alone have the joy of reading one. Promoting literacy at an early age directly relates to scholastic achievement. My favorite quote was written by Jacqueline Kennedy. “There are many little ways to enlarge a child’s world. Love of books is the best of all”.
There are many ways to promote one’s book(s)…. Being a storyteller at local libraries and in the surrounding schools has been very rewarding. There is no greater joy than putting smiles on children’s faces and to be asked to read another story. Donating a signed edition of your book(s) to these educational facilities is a great opportunity to have them seen by the public. I also visit small bookstores and some agree to display them. News media, children’s magazines, and local TV channels are also great resources. Utilizing the promotional tool of the internet makes a significant difference. There are great sites that list your book(s) free of charge giving your book(s) the exposure they truly deserve. Any place or anywhere you can display your books improves your opportunity for greater happenings. Finding and contacting a reviewer is not that difficult. There are many wonderful reviewers on Facebook to choose from. I’ve received many reviews of my books all of which were positive feedback and encouraging words. I hope this information was somewhat helpful.
So, I persevere, promote and continue my journey. Persevere….a strong and powerful word that has brought me to this point in my life. My dream became a reality and so could yours. I’m not a well-known author, my books are not on a best sellers list, but one thing is certain, I believe anything is possible. To the new and upcoming authors, never give up your dream, believe it can happen, promote… promote…promote, and most importantly never stop writing.
I read the following poem many many times. Unfortunately, the author is unknown, but I hope you enjoy it and give it some thought.
“To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about the darkness. For that is when stars shine brightest!”