Writing "The Greenhouse Story" has been a wild ride. When I began the process at the beginning of the year I had no idea where to begin. I had a vague idea of a story, knew I could draw and wanted to jump right in. I hope this blog entry can be a great resource for someone who has a great story to share with the world but is scared of taking all of the steps between start to finish. DO NOT GIVE UP!
STEP 1: DREAM
The first part of your process is to dream up a story. This process looks different for everyone so I'm going to leave this vague. Do not worry if at this stage your idea is fuzzy because you will have plenty of time to iron out the details. Share your story with a few people and see what they think, is this story meaningful and important for the world to digest?
STEP 2: WRITE
Spend time writing your story, again do not worry if it is not exactly like you want it because it will change A TON throughout this process. Set yourself deadlines and make sure you meet them. Stay up late. Cancel plans with people if you must. You will not be writing this book for the rest of your life so it's worth the effort it will take to complete. Once you have it all down - take a breath.
STEP 3: PLAN
Will this story need illustrations? Are you capable of illustrating yourself? I am lucky enough to be blessed with the ability to illustrate my own story. It's ok if you have not there are many illustrators out there willing to help you with your project. [Me] being one of them! Do you feel comfortable enough to edit your own story. Remember once your work is (self ) published it will be judged by many and possibly more harshly than a book that has taken a more traditional route by using a mainstream Publisher. Know your realm of skills and be OK with asking for help with editing.
STEP 4: FIND PRINTER
This step will take a lot of research. There are hundreds of printers out there willing to print your book for you. The printer you choose will hinge heavily on what you plan to do with your book. Do you plan to print your book and stock pile them in your spare bedroom or would you like a company to print on demand for you? Price will also play a part in this step, make sure you shop around and do not be afraid to send an email to companies to get a better quote than the auto generated quote the websites give you. I got 54% off printing services through BLURB for mass printing (100+ copies) "The Greenhouse Story." Bookbaby and Ingram are also great resources for self published printers.
STEP 5: PUBLISH
This is where you decide if you want to personally take on the liability of your story. I decided to publish "The Greenhouse Story" under an LLC. The reason I chose to do this is two fold. I wanted to be able to release myself from liability from the story. Why this makes sense: what if someone decides to sue you for a similarity in storyline, similarity in illustration etc. If your book is published under your name YOU are liable and can risk losing your personal assets if [god forbid] you ever had an issue. The second reason I decided to self publish under an LLC is because in the future I may decide to write a second book. With this publishing company I am able to help other people publish books or help myself when the time comes. If you are interested in creating a company to publish your own book see my next blog post about creating a LLC to publish books.
You can always contact publishing companies and submit your story for review. This may be a good choice for you if you are also looking for an illustrator and editor. What a traditional publishing company will do for you is help structure your story, edit it, find an illustrator and market it for you. This is a great route for you if you need support and feel a little lost.
STEP 6: TEST THE STORY
Find a group of people who closely models your story's reader demographic. I found it helpful to read the story with a range of children (ages 3 - 12) in order to conceptualize the story for the right age group. In doing so I also allowed the children to help me finalize the storyline and give me constructive feedback that I needed. Once this step came I was able to truly see what kind of affect my story has on children and it served as fuel to continue the process and forge forward.
STEP 7: SHARE
Once you have done so much heavy lifting it feels good to offload a little bit onto others who can help support your story. Leave no stone unturned. I reached out to everyone I could think of to help spread the light of my story. Family members, friends, strangers in divorce networks, counselors, teachers, yoga instructors and more. If you have a great story to share others will be more than willing to help you. Use social media to create a following for the story and get people interested in your project. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many other websites will help you in this step, you can even create ads that drive more views to your posts. Try to get in contact with teachers who can help you schedule readings in schools or libraries.
STEP 8: EDIT, EDIT and EDIT more
If you are working on the story editing yourself you will repeat this step OVER AND OVER AND OVER. You may even drive yourself crazy making change after change until you are finally ready to get your book printed. Once your story is done, you will know. Trust me.
STEP 9: LOGISTICS
Things you will need to fully publish your book. ISBN, this will be required for each version of your book, if you want to offer it in different sizes, hardcover vs. softcover, or ebook. You must get a separate ISBN for each. I ended up needing 2 of these. They can be purchased on Bowker.com. You will want to start a copyright process in order to fully protect your story and images. This can be done at copyright.gov.
STEP 10: PRINT
Once your story is ready and you have all of required registration finished you can contact your printer with the final product. By this time hopefully you have a few people willing to support you by pre-purchasing your book. You can use these funds to purchase a large group of books for a discounted rate.
STEP 11: CELEBRATE
Whether you sell one copy or 1 million you have published your first book and that is a great accomplishment. Now that you have a published work you are considered some what of an expert on your topic and may even be contacted for news articles or advice. Please celebrate yourself and do not stop writing and creating, this is just the beginning.
If you have further questions regarding publishing your first book feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.