Author Feature

Self-Publishing My Children’s Book

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Caryn Umetsu, author of “Little Liar”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

my mom sis and II was 4-years-old when I left my birth country of Japan, my parents divorced and that’s how I came to live with my new father in Hawaii. My mom often played a song about a little blue-eyed blond doll made of celluloid who was leaving America to go to Japan.  The doll was homesick and wondered if she would make friends. By the tone of the latter half of the song, we know that although she left her home country, she made fast friends in her new country. That is how I felt, I was sad for the divorce but thankful for my new life and the new me. I renamed myself Caryn which means “one of the seven stars of the constellation Orion.”

I don’t remember much of Japan but I do remember saying good bye to my aunt and uncle as we pulled out of the train station.  Nothing is more romantic and forlorn, the way a train leaves ever so slowly then faster and faster leaving behind your loved ones who grow smaller and smaller like figurines in a dollhouse. My aunt and uncle gave me a book to remember them by, a Chinese folktale called “The Magic Brush”.

For most of my life, books have always played a significant role in shaping who I am. First grade was the first time that I ever set foot in school.  I didn’t know how to speak, read, or write English in my new country; my mom said I cried every day for two weeks. My dad was the one who patiently sat with me under the lamp on the edge of the couch on a nightly basis to read with me “A Pig Can Jig.”

julian and nicholasEvery Saturday, my dad took my sister and I to the library where we could borrow as many books as we wanted, we felt like Hansel and Gretel at the Gingerbread House.  In no time, I was out of the ELL class and devouring whatever I could get my hands on, I moved beyond the picture books to the chapter books.  I moved up quickly in reading level from the very bottom to the very top; my teachers were amazed and so proud of me.  Later in college years, my sister and I said that we would become sister writers, I would be Emily and she would be Charlotte Bronte.

My latest children’s book “Little Liar” is based on my oldest son “Bobby”. When he was four and my middle son “Mitch” was two, we wrote the “Little Liar” book together and after many nights, we finally finished and stapled it together with pride. Although we went to the library twice a week, that was their favorite book. Even with all the dinosaur and construction books we borrowed and reborrowed, it continued to be their favorite bedtime story. I still have the purple tattered and torn copy of the original  book which I used to create “Little Liar.”

The most powerful tool about self-publishing that I have come to find out is that we are able to, as authors, be in full command of how the book turns out. For me, the illustrations were truly important. I liked the cartoonish style of illustrating, similar to a “Peanuts” comic book. It was beyond words, the feeling that we three experienced, bringing our once beloved and nearly forgotten book that we had created so long ago when I was a housewife, to life.  “Bobby” and “Mitch” are now 23 and 21, a fireman and a marine. My youngest son who is introduced on the last page of the book is 14.3 sons

I have so many books that I am currently working on and I hope to continue publishing.  It has been so amazing working with Archway Publishing. I feel that every day brings me closer to my dream. Just like Marie Lelay  in the movie “Hereafter,” I will one day become an author proudly sitting at a book signing.

Thank you Archway, I believe what you do is phenomenal. Check out my new website carynyumetsu.com. I am also making a plushie of Bobby by Budsies and another Bobby doll by Ginta from ParisJavaDoll from Etsy. What I have in mind is that eventually my book will be popular enough and in demand so I can order many plushies to sell with my book.  I am also preparing for a book launch with SCBWI. If you want to email me, I am at carynyayoi@yahoo.com. I am a high school 11th grade English teacher so I have summers and many holidays off to work on my books. Let’s network and help each other make our dreams a reality. I would love to hear and learn from you!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Meet Max!: Finding an Illustrator

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Elizabeth Rosso, author of “Meet Max”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

If you’re just joining me, my first two posts were about how I came up with the idea for Meet Max!, and how I turned that idea into a manuscript.  At that point came the big question: now what?  How do I turn this into a real book?img1

Initially I thought traditional publishing was my only option.  I knew it would take time and that I’d likely collect a lot of rejection letters before finally succeeding…if I succeeded.  Nonetheless, I began to mull over the things I’d need to learn, like how to pitch my idea, whether I needed to hire an agent, et cetera.  As I began the process of learning just how much I didn’t know, I happened upon a story on the radio about self-publishing.  Interesting.  No need to get a publishing house to buy into my idea.  Retain creative control over the final product.  Keep more of the royalties.  And, if the book sells well, maybe attract the attention of a traditional publisher anyway.

That all sounded good, but I still felt like I didn’t know which choice was best.  So, I turned to the one place I know I can always find answers, or at least pass a pleasant afternoon: the bookstore!  Off I went, and lo and behold, there was a book that set out the basics of not only traditional publishing and self-publishing, but also of starting your own publishing company.  I bought it.  I devoured it.  It gave me so much to think about!  In the end, though, (and as you’ve probably already guessed), I went with self-publishing.  It seemed like the best way to get the end product I wanted, on my timeline, without having to prove beforehand that my idea was a good one.  Plus if I decided to go the more traditional route later, I’d already have a prototype, so to speak, of what I had in mind, and hopefully the sales data to back it up.img2

I still had the problem of illustrations, though.  My book definitely needed them, and I definitely do not have that kind of artistic skill.  What’s more, most of the self-publishing companies I identified were geared towards more traditional, black-and-white chapter books, not short children’s stories heavy on artwork.  It seemed like there were three options.  I could learn to draw, I could hire an artist, or I could keep shopping for companies that could help me get the illustrations so crucial to my concept.

Learning to draw was almost certainly out of the question.  Even my stick figures need a little help.  Could I hire an artist?  Where would I look?  How would I communicate what I wanted?  And how would I know if I was getting a good rate?  As luck would have it, I have some friends who are either artists themselves, or who routinely hire artists as part of their work.  They were able to give me some great guidance and point me towards some fantastic resources, but I still felt like I was in over my head.  And then I discovered Archway.img3

Archway was one of only two self-publishing companies I identified that had artists on staff.  What’s more, it’s the only company I found that provided enough information on its web site for me to educate myself and focus my questions prior to contacting them.  Then, when I did make contact, they answered my questions and provided even more information without using a “hard sell” approach or making me feel pressure to make a decision right away.  They were able to explain the self-publishing process to me and go into detail about how the illustrations portion of the process would work.  And they were willing to answer any additional questions I might have along the way.  It was just what I needed!  At last I felt like I had to the tools to finally bring Max to life.  The only thing left would be getting the rest of the world to love Max as much as I do (i.e., buy the book) – more on that next time!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.   

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Author Feature, Publishing

Self-Publishing Children’s Books with Archway

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Jan Gimlin, author of “The Adventures of Franz and Jethro: Ants in the Pants”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.  

My storytelling days began with my own two children. I read a lot of stories too, but their favorites seemed to be the stories I just made up for them. They used to beg me to make up stories, the wilder and crazier the better. They were the perfect captive audience!

SKU-001060594Anyway, I love animals, and especially love how different their personalities can be, much like humans. So, with our two dogs, I always make up sayings/words based on what I THINK they would say if they could talk. My husband and I would tell our black lab (Jethro) that he had ants in his pants, because from the time we got him (adopted at about 5 months) he’d have a crazy burst of energy (OFTEN) and be ready to play fetch or catch; then just fizzle out.

So one day the story just came to me and I wrote it down on the computer. That was last summer. On a whim, I emailed the story to my daughter and asked for her impressions. She loved the story and told me I should try to get it published.

Next, I went to the library and checked out about a dozen children’s books, read them, and wrote down the publishers names. Then I researched the publishers of the books I liked best, looking for the self-publishing branch of each. I thought Archway sounded reasonable, contacted them and someone called me back.

Now, discussions began with my publishing consultant about the direction of my book. I had to make a decision: how to illustrate it. I am an artist, mostly a painter, but NOT a cartoonist. As a creative person, I kept thinking there must be something that I could do myself. So the consultant asked me if I’d thought about collage, or something else. Over the course of a weekend I decided to do a drawing, a collage, and a model magic figurine; then attached pictures of all three in an email to the consultant. This consultant was intrigued by the model magic figurine because he could think of no other children’s book on the market with this type of illustration for its characters. I liked the sound of having a unique book, bought more colors of model magic and began to create the characters in various poses.

As an art teacher my favorite modeling compound for elementary students was Model Magic, a crayola product, and I LOVED creating dogs or other animals with them. But with this product or even clay, one problem I had was creating a large dog with stick-thin legs. The weight of the main body collapsed the legs! So I had to create a “skeleton” for the walking poses with the black lab. For the dachshund, I just made squattier legs and left it at that. But I had to show the difference in proportion between the two dogs (100 lbs. vs. 12 lbs.), and realized it would just look weird for the lab to have thick squatty legs! So, my husband helped me make the skeleton out of wire and hot glue, which I then covered with pieces of model magic.JanGimlin

Next, the publishing consultant gave me the idea of a diorama for the background. After googling “diorama”, I came up with a few ideas. I used foam core as a base, and for the indoor scene I covered it with two types of shelf paper. For the outdoor scene, I used three different types of textured mediums that I use in painting: coarse pumice gel for the ant bed, coarse modeling paste to simulate sandy red dirt, and fiber paste to simulate grass. Then I painted over all of these. The outdoor background was painted on a 11×14 canvas board. The bushes were clumps of reindeer moss. The furniture and plant for the indoor scene were dollhouse furniture.

Next, my publishing consultant told me that the picture resolution had to be at least 300 DPI, so I tried taking pictures with my cellphone but when he checked the resolution, he said the pictures were blurry and just wouldn’t work. I already had a tripod, so used it along with our digital camera to take all my pictures.

Then when the story and pictures were finalized, I was transferred to a check-in coordinator, where my patience with technology was tested time after time! Next came the design team, where the cover and interior were planned. After several revisions with the layout, my project was done!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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