Have you ever asked the question – if I self-publish, does that mean I’m stuck self-publishing forever?
A lot of writers think they’re stuck defining themselves as one or the other, either a “self-published writer” or a “commercially-published writer.” I hope you haven’t fallen into that trap!
In fact, you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself that way, as I hope I’ve proved with the release of my first book from a commercial publishing company, Yossi & the Monkeys (Kar-Ben, 2017).
So what’s it like having a book commercially published after so much self-publishing experience?
It’s weird, that’s all I can say. It’s all about sitting back, relaxing, and WAITING, because this thing took – well, forever.
But still – I thought it would be fun to break it into steps, like in my last post, so you can see what was involved along the way. So here we go… with Step 1.
Step 1. Contest submission.
It all started back in 2014 with a Jewish kids’ story contest at Barbara Krasner’s website. I entered, didn’t win, didn’t even come close. But a real editor was reading!
Trouble was, my story came in at around 10,000 words (what was I thinking???). It had 10 chapters, it was an EPIC. Oops… wayyyyy too long! Here’s Chapter One.
2. Contest rejection
Well, needless to say, this 10,000-word behemoth was rejected – with just about the nicest rejection note I have ever, ever seen:
She liked it! She really did! Considering I hadn’t paid anything to enter this contest, it was a delight to receive a positive reply like this.
Only trouble was… how to get the story down THAT small? 10,000 words to 850 words???
Um, which 95% of the story could I afford to cut?
So I sat on it for a while, and then I set about cutting. The process took about five months – from April to September.
3. Cut the story
I don’t think I made it down to 850, but when the behemoth was under 5 pages (from 23!), I submitted it to Kar-Ben. Here’s Page 1:
And you’ll never guess (but maybe you’ll guess) what happened next!
Oh, frabjous day!!! She wanted it!!! There are not enough exclamation marks in the world for how delightful this occasion was.
(Isn’t it beautifully happy-making?)
Not much to say about this step. The contract came by regular mail, along with a small but respectable cheque. Yay! I was a real writer at last!
Now, it was time to sit back and…
7. Final story editing
In June of the following year, it was time for final edits, which the publisher sent to me for double-checking. Wheee…
The biggest change in editing was that the publisher had decided the main character’s wife needed a name. Makes sense.
I feel like I’m really bad at naming characters. What went with Yossi? It actually didn’t take me long to think of something; Malka, which is my sister’s middle name, and one of my favourites. Malka she was!
So now it was time to…
8. Wait some more (artwork)
While the publisher worked on art, I sat back and waited again. I was not consulted on the artwork in any way, which was fine with me. In February of 2016 (so almost a year and a half after the book was accepted), I got to see the sketch for the front cover, by Israeli artist Shirley Waisman:
It was awesome! So cool to see my story coming to life!
9. Final artwork
In March, 2016, the final artwork was ready and the publisher sent me the book for a final proofing pass – text and art, together at last!
It was also time to write my dedication… a tough decision, but I’m happy with what I went with.
Now, it was time to wait some more! The art was done, but they didn’t tell me when the thing was actually going to see the light of day.
Poking around Amazon one day (maybe in October 2016?), I saw the book listed, with a release date of January, 2017. This thing really was happening!
Soon afterwards, the publisher’s PR people contacted me to get some basic information. I had to tell them who my favourite children’s authors are, and some other stuff like that. No idea what they did or are planning to do with it.
11. Release date…
With very little fanfare, along with a few other Winter 2017 books, Yossi was released on January 1, 2017, almost three years after I first submitted it to the contest.
Living so far away, it took a few weeks for my promised hard copies to get here. But when they did, we had a ton of fun unboxing them!
Here’s our unboxing video:
My kids finally got a peek at the dedication, as well – I’d kept it secret from them all along…
And guess what? We get to do it all over again, probably this time next year. That’s right – Kar-Ben is publishing a second book of mine, Joan and the Secrets of the Universe. It’s not due out until 2018, but I have seen some preliminary sketches and they look terrific…
So, yeah. Just as in self-publishing, the trick, and perhaps the hardest step, is to just keep on going. One foot in front of the other.
I don’t know how typical this production process is, but I’m guessing it’s pretty standard. Especially the part about letting go of control – a tough thing if you’re used to self-publishing. And also about being PATIENT. The good news is that with all that time to wait between submission and publishing, there’s plenty of time to START WRITING YOUR NEXT BOOK.
And that’s something that doesn’t change no matter how you’re being published.
(And it’s just what I’m going to do!)
Hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the scenes!!!