The following are the words of Agnes Bellegris, Archway Publishing author of “Animal Encounters.” For more on Agnes, check out her website, Instagram and Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.
When taking the path to self-publishing, measuring success can be complex. Do you measure based on sales? Of course, that is always a definitive measure. But, as writers and artists, we need to look beyond this. As a picture book writer, I have the privilege of attending primary schools to discuss the things I love the most: the importance of literacy, creating literature, and now, with Animal Encounters, painting and drawing. When children tell me how much they enjoy my book because it’s “funny” and because “the pictures are amazing,” then I have succeeded. If parents tell me that my books are their go-to stories at bedtime, then I have succeeded. When teachers tell me that they love the richness of the language and that it allows them to introduce concepts from other areas of study in the classroom, then I know one hundred percent I have done something right.
Animal Encounters is my fourth picture book, but for me, it is also a first. It is the first book I published through Archway and it is the first book I was brave enough to illustrate. I created the images that coincide with each carefully crafted word. This has opened doors for me that I wasn’t ready to go through. It is always difficult to make a choice to put the work you hold so dear and personal, out into the world. I’m so glad I did and I’m glad that Archway was there to listen to my vision every step of the way. My book is now my business card. I use it to promote myself, my art and my intense love of the animals that surround our world. It has also been used as a fundraiser to promote literacy initiatives.
Finding the Validation
I visit schools, I have a website and I now sell my paintings. Would I love a traditional publishing experience one day? Of course, who wouldn’t? But right now, I’m content with creating a solid online and public presence, promoting my work, meeting my young readers, their teachers and their parents. To self-publish, you must be brave. No one has validated that your work is good enough, other than friends and family. If you find the validation in other ways, like I have, then you have succeeded.
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