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?
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.
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.
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!
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