'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 4 April 2009

How to Self-Publish a Children's Book, Phase III


I’m juggling and I’m dropping a few balls

I have to reveal something.

I actually wrote this children’s book nearly two years ago, and it’s only being published now. This is typical of any writer trying to publish a book – in fact, it normally takes many years from start to sale time, and this book has been no exception. Seeing as though publishers like to be offered a manuscript exclusively, it can take many, many months if not years to collect even the smallest pile of rejection slips.

So I collected rejection slips for about 18 months with this book, and frankly – I kind of got jack of it. Plus, I was running out of time – Beijing offered an extraordinarily affordable way to print the book, and I knew I’d be mad if I didn’t take advantage of that before we leave for good.

Now that the process of self-publishing has begun, I’ve discovered things can certainly take time. I wish I could claim some of that time back, but I can’t. I have to solider on, even though I’m down to the wire.

Note to avid self-publishers – by all means, set yourself a launch date and stick to it, but don’t underestimate the time it takes to wend your way around obstacles, or… to wait. And then wait some more.

I’m going a little insane right now with the logistics of this, but I have to remember that the most important thing that got me going on this self-publishing journey is this: I believe in this book. And I believe in it so much, I’m willing to put my time, money and sanity on the line to get off my behind and do the darn thing myself.

It may work, it may not work, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try. And Lord am I trying. Things are falling into place, but I’m paying the price. I don’t think I’ve blinked since last Thursday, I’m that busy. I haven’t heard my husband fall asleep for two weeks and he always beats me to it. I don’t recall the last time I entered a shop or market (shock!), and caffeine and I have become old, old friends.

Last week, I hit Tian’anmen Square three times in an attempt to get a last-minute photo for the book. The first two times, it was closed. Naturally. I think I ground my teeth down to stumps on that second visit, I was so frustrated.

The third time, I spent hours researching if the Square would definitely be open, then had to battle the most massive wall of provincial tourists I have ever seen in my life. I thought I’d never make it out alive. I also did the Forbidden City in 20 minutes. Yes, you read it right. I just about ran. But I got some great last-minute pictures, because, people – at this late stage, my book is not even printed.

And my book launch is just weeks away.

Lucky I run my best under deadlines, because yes – things are busy. Not only am I packing up a family to move back to Australia (no need to bore you with the details of that gargantuan task) and attempting to buy and sell houses via the internet (highly recommended! you should try it!), I’m simultaneously finishing a paperback book for adults (City Weekend readers, get ready!), coordinating book launches with some amazingly supportive people who I want to kiss and kiss and kiss forever, and attempting to keep the stink off my body through that elusive process called showering. Oh – and occasionally I also remember to eat.

Am I barking mad? Yes. Yes I am. But please call it a passion-state. When you love something that much, don’t you go crazy for it? I may be on the verge of mental collapse but my body just keeps going, hauling my brain along inside its skull. Nonetheless, today my brain brought me to tears as I was juggling 20 balls in the bathroom. It may be the exhaustion talking, but I seem to be dropping a few balls lately.

Three days ago, my daughter Ella sat on my lap and wept because she said I was so busy on the weekends, I didn’t spend enough time with her. It broke my heart. She has every right to cry. I have been busy. I gently explained to her that the book is almost ready, that I’ll soon have more time for her, that this is an amazing, gut-wrenching, life-changing, mother-lode of personal passion in the unfolding that I have no choice but to pursue.

She just looked at me blankly.

In truth, these kinds of statements are hard for a kid to understand because they look at you and all they see is “Mum”. They don’t see a woman. A person. They only see a mother. They don’t understand that mothers are people, too – that they have flaws and dreams and needs and desires and passions. And it’s absolutely right that all Ella sees is a mother – I wouldn’t have it any other way nor expect anything less.

It’s just tough sometimes.

I’m absolutely loving this publishing process. I’m in my element and the excitement is building exponentially, but it’s just a little hard to balance my roles right now. But then, I suppose if anyone can juggle a dozen roles, it’s a woman.

Right, sisters?

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.