Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Authored a Book...But Have You Seen the Box???

The fruits of my labor have officially been delivered to my doorstep. In fact, exactly 1,488 copies of Why Does Grandma Have a Wibble? are neatly packaged in boxes that are now lining my wall like wallpaper. I have no complaints though. This dream is long overdue!!!

I always wondered what I'd feel like the day I took delivery of my first book, and strangely it was the most insignificant piece of the publishing process that made me smile the most. Thirty-one boxes piled on a wooden skid, wrapped in shrinkwrap, and I thought I'd be scrambling to tear open the box to make sure that the books were inside. Instead, I stood back and giggled to myself as the forklift operator moved the skid around because I was admiring the side of the box that clearly had my book's name printed on the side of each one. Like a big box of Doritos or Charmin toilet paper, it was clear what the contents were. I surprised myself that such a goofy thing could hold my attention for so long. Even when my mom called a couple hours later to congratulate me and ask me how I felt about my "big day", my first comments were about the printed boxes. I think it's easy to see how easily amused I am -- and how I can find appreciation in the little things. I think it's also easy to see that I was the kid who got the big bike for Christmas, but I played with the wrapping and the box while the gift remained under the tree!

Watch What You Say Around Me...

When my son Noah was seven, he was admiring the loose skin on his grandmother’s neck and said: “Grandma, I like your wibble. Mom, why does Grandma have a wibble?” And that was the beginning of a dream come true for me. As my children have quickly learned, if you say something cute or profound around me, I’m usually grabbing a pen or my laptop to scribble out an idea for a potential book. And that’s what happened with Noah’s comment. Within a matter of weeks, I was searching for a publisher and going through the labor-intensive search for kids’ quotes to fill the pages of my book. My preference was to land a contract through a traditional publishing house, but they are known for moving at glacial speed. I figured if I waited on a contract from a large house, these children would be graduated and might even be grandparents if I didn’t move the process along a little faster. So, I chose a self-publisher, and now have a few more experiences under my belt. While going this route is not something that I might consider again, just because of the enormous out-of-pocket expense that is laid out even before you have a book in hand, it certainly has given me an understanding of the self-publishing business. AND, it did allow me to see my own book in print in a much shorter time frame. “Why Does Grandma Have a Wibble?” has finally been released, and I now have 1,488 copies of the fruits of my labor in my garage.

Some Young Writers Have a Chance...

My first speaking engagement as a “real author” was in the Monroe School District. How fitting that I was visiting classrooms that I used to frequent when I was a young girl 30 years ago. The rooms looked a lot smaller and the walls were better decorated than when I was there…but that’s probably just my grown-up perception. One thing that changed: my classroom never had a cool mascot. Ms. Jordan’s room had a dragon named Bob. He didn’t really care that I was there. In fact, the only time he even perked up was when Ms. Jordan released a few live grasshoppers into his tank. Thankfully, the kids were more interested in what I had to say than Bob. I taught them how to take an otherwise dull story and fill it with interesting facts that would grab the reader. Attentively, they listened and then shared their own books with me that they had been creating in their writing class. They are so lucky! I loved my elementary teachers, don’t get me wrong, but where was Ms. Jordan when I was eight years old? She was actually teaching them how to publish a book. And they were thrilled to have the opportunity! What a great skill, and from what I could see, there was a lot of potential for future authors. Way to go, Ms. Jordan!!!