Imagine if as an adult, you suddenly had the opportunity to do the thing you wanted to do as a child. I don’t mean eat only candy and never go to bed; although I’ve done both those things (but substitute cheese for candy). No, I’m talking about the thing you wanted to be when you grew up. In my case that would be a writer and publisher.
You’re probably wondering what kind of kid wants to be a publisher. The kind of kid who doesn’t just like a good story, she also loves the look and feel of a book.
When I decided to write and publish my first story, at age eight, I don’t think I knew the word publisher. I saw a book with the author’s name on it, and assumed s/he wrote and made the book. I think (hope?) I was smart enough to realize that writers made their books in a “book factory,” and not by hand, but I know I wasn’t aware of all the gatekeepers and helpers between writing and publication. So in my innocence and without access to a “book factory,” I set out to hand-make my opus.
THUNDER! is the story of a boy and his horse. It’s interesting to me that I chose to write about a boy instead of a girl. It was probably partly a reflection of the times (1969) that I thought it should be a boy having the adventure, and also partly my love of the TV show Lassie (the adventures of a boy and his dog)—I even named my protagonist Timmy.
I found what remains of that book in a box of odds and ends from my childhood. I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed by my first publishing effort.
I was aware of trim size; 5×7.
I (literally) used clip art—pretty steady scissor work, if I do say so myself — and have a relatively balanced design that gives some indication of what’s under the cover. Could have used better and bolder typography, but even more seriously, I forgot to include my name!
Inside I have a title page. I think that’s pretty good attention to publishing standards for an eight year old. There is definitely a bleed problem with my name, but at least it’s there.
Next up is my table of contents. You don’t see a table of contents, with titled chapters, that often anymore. John Irving usually has one. That puts THUNDER! in good company I think.
Page one really surprised me as far as layout: I have the book title centred at the top; the chapter number; the chapter title; I knew to start the text halfway down the page and I have decent margins.
I think my eight year old self was on her way. But in time I learned that writing and publishing was a little more complicated than making covers from the card stock of a Barbie and Ken paper doll book.
I studied art and English at college, then journalism at university. Over that last 37 years I’ve been a writer and/or editor in many different capacities (I even sold handmade greeting cards at one time). I currently work as a writer for a financial company. I’ve written short stories and personal essays (three in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies) and for two years I published an ezine. But I’ve never published (or finished writing) a novel.
But technology has caught up with my childhood dream. It’s now possible for me to write my stories, design my covers, format my layouts and publish books or ebooks, from the comfort of my home office. And thanks to spell check, none of my characters will have freakles.
So it’s time to become what I always wanted to be when I grew up.
If you’re interested in indie-publishing, I hope you’ll find information on my blog that is useful and motivating for your journey.