I published my first indie novel in 1969. I was eight years old.
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 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.
The story is riveting:
“It was a bright summers day in Timmy Radfords house and Timmy was eating breakfast. Timmy was a eight year old boy with brown hair and freakles.”
I found what remains of Timmy’s adventures in a box of odds and ends from my childhood. I have to admit, what I lacked as a storyteller, I made up for with my publishing skills.
I was aware of trim size
I traced around a paperback book then cut the pages from typing paper and rolled them into my dad’s portable typewriter. I remember that some of the metal letter rods would stick and I had to push them back down before I could peck out the next word.
I designed a cover
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!
Decent understanding of interior design
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. Of course I grew-up and discovered that writing and publishing was a lot more complicated than making covers from the card stock of a Barbie and Ken paper doll book.
But now, 50 years later, technology has caught up with my childhood imaginings. The Jetsons promised me flying cars, jetpacks and robot maids, but reality is even better. I really can write stories, design covers, format interiors and publish books from the comfort of my home.
And thanks to spell check, none of my characters will have freakles.