Journey into Self Publishing
When I started this journey I had no idea what I was getting into. Actually to be quite honest I hoped that I could basically just hire somebody to get me through it. I had little interest in really doing any of the hard work that comes from creating your work of "art" and seeing it to fruition. I didn't know anything about copyrights, contracts, an artist vs a illustrator, printer sizes, etc. I was just a mom who wanted to to write a book for my children, specifically my daughters. What I did know was that I had a amazing character, one that came to me without much thought, as she wasn't really a character at all. Not in the made up sense anyway. My character, Princess Cupcake Jones, was/is simply a combo of my two little girls. She was drawn based on pictures of their image, her style is theirs (down to the bracelets on her arms), and her spirit is a reflections of theirs, sassy and determined, yet also vulnerable and sweet. The other thing that I knew, was how to tell a story. I am really good with coming up with beginnings, middles, and ends..though not always in that order. Now that is not to say that I am a great writer. That is still a work in progress. I certainly have had help along to the way to get me to where I am currently. But from the beginning I knew what adventures I wanted Cupcake to embark on. Which was easy because I only had to look towards to my own children for inspiration. Things that I go through with them, pop up throughout all three of my story lines. Which brings me to the next thing I knew. That PCJ had the ability to be marketable. Or at the very least fill a niche. And how did I know that part?? Well because first and foremost I'm a consumer. My lifestyle blog shows you a small part of things that I "consume" lol. And while I love shoes and purses and that is definitely reflected on abellelife.com, what isn't shown is how involved I am with my children. Like any other mom I obsess about every detail of their lives. I have them in great schools, countless activities (from piano, guitar, gymnastics, iceskating, theater etc), we go on playdates, attend church (though not as often as we should), and basically have the same lives that countless other families do. I have definitely tried to be the best parent that I can possibly be. And part of trying to be a good parent (at least in my eyes), means that I read to them. Which gets me back to the consumer part. When I would read to my oldest daughter (around when she was age 2) I had a hard time finding African American titles that she could relate to. Don't get me wrong there are some really great picture books with African American characters out there (Summer Jackson, Jazz Baby, & Grace for President just to name a few) But I am talking about 2004. There just wasn't a lot then. Plus my daughter really gravitated towards the Fancy Nancy & Pinkalicious books. And there just wasn't anything of that caliber for her age group even remotely out there that featured a black image. So creating PCJ was done in the beginning to fill a void in my own child's life. I wanted to give her a book with a character that she could relate to, not just in style or favorite color, but down to her very image. Now that does not mean that PCJ is only for little girls of color. Just like Fancy Nancy isn't just for stylish white children and Pinkalicious shouldn't just be for girls who like the color pink. The beauty of the afore mentioned books is their ability to reach children of all races and sometimes even gender (why can't little boys read Pinkalicious if they want to??). And that is my hope for PCJ. So to do that and most importantly to do it the correct way I had to learn all about the self publishing business. And I mean really learn..and the only way to truly learn is to do. So there was no hiring anyone to do anything anymore. I had to set out to find my own illustrator, my own marketing team, my own publicist, my own editors etc etc. And let's just say that isn't as easy or as stress free as it seems. There were times when I really felt that maybe I was in over my head. I mean if the original point of this was just to write a book for my children, why deal with all the headaches that I now suddenly was enduring in my attempt to get my book published. I learned about trust (or better yet mistrust), about why contracts were/are necessary in business (period), about what it really means to own not just the name of a character but the image (both of which were extremely important to me), about rejection (specifically from agents who didn't blink a eye at my manuscript), and most of all about perseverance. And because of all that I have gone through, I am a better writer/publisher because of it. So with that said I am over the moon about the next part of my journey. Not just for me but for PCJ as well. We go to print any day now and I have never been more excited about anything I've ever done...in my life!! I plan to use this blog to take you along on that journey. I hope you enjoy the ride :)!!