Publishing Your Book

Book Cover from the second series of guided reading books I illustrated in 2018 for Strong Nations Publishers

There are so many people who procrastinated for a few years or more, about writing a book. Maybe it was a personal story journey, a cook book or a story about how the mushrooms take over the world. Hey that sounds interesting.

No matter the topic thousands of people finally got the chance to write or finish writing their first book during the virus lockdown, maybe one good thing about the scary inconvenience changing our world.

My New Book

No I’m not one of those people, and as some of you know I have already illustrated quite a few children’s education and cultural education and storybooks, which have mostly been published by Strong Nations Publishers in Nanaimo.

My greatest creative passion is illustration, always has been but I never focused my attention on it totally because of my Native art career, which started in 1982. In 2014 my longtime friend Terri Mack contacted me and asked if I would be interested in illustrating some books for her new publishing company, of course I said sure.

120 books later we had a couple years where I was dealing with a serious health issue and wasn’t able to create much art, and after my health improved a few years had passed by. Then a few months back Terri contacted me about doing another book, which she co wrote with me. Her concept was nothing short of brilliant, as usual, and wonderfully challenging for me, on the writing spectrum, not my passion or forte.

It’s a bit selfish of me to subtitle this as My New Book because it’s always an Our Book project. So much planning and prepping for a variety of contributors, and in this case our book project embodies an important teaching experience for the benefit of a new team of publishers and book designers, and I am one of those students. Never stop learning do we?

Working on possible book cover using my Photoshop art pallet

Our Process

I don’t want to get too detailed even though I get a lot of questions about how I have been able to create so many books in a very short time. Technology has certainly made most of the creat process much faster and easier, which is amazing considering when I worked on my first Tsimshian cultural and mythological books in 1990 and then a larger project with big publishing company out of New York, which were all done using felt pens and paint brushes and lots of pencil sketching, that upon every stage had to be couriered back and forth for many months.

Now our main slow down is the overload of books being printed by our trusted printing company, which put a little urgency on getting the new project finished to have it ready to release for the coming school season.

Stumbling Blocks

As in in all projects there are unforeseen stumbling blocks that can be discouraging and overwhelming. As an artist and a writer I have been faced mostly with learning curves that have taught me easier ways of presenting my works in a way that make it easier for the team to what they are trained to do.

With my photoshop computer program I have learned to save many layers in many large files and sent them off into Dropbox files for the book designers and my publisher.

As for my writing of stories and lesson books I am thankful that my editor will spruce up my writing so that I sound much more edumacated than I really am, grammarly speaking. See you are an editor already, you have noticed my personal creative writing slang. Then there is another editor who joins the process to content edit and polish the words for the final creative process. Then off to the printer.

Final Stage

Once again there is another all important stage of the project that will make or brake the investment of time, sweat and dollars, that moment when you have your finished book, all the bar codes and pricing applied to the cover so your book can be put on a retail stores shelves. Yes that would be nice wouldn’t it? Hundreds of stores selling your wonderful new storybook that you had worked on for so many months, if not years.

Sounds good doesn’t it? It’s what you would’ve had to do long before trying sell the finished product, otherwise you will be sitting on an investment of at least five grand, at least. Marketing as most of you know is the key to getting any product distributed to many retail stores, book stores or school libraries.

I was very fortunate in that I was contracted to illustrate education books that had a pretty good distribution across Canada through Strong Nations. I do online promo videos to share some of the stories and was doing quite a few readings at school around B.C. plus I do some Instagram presentations called Story Journeys. I also feature a few information and picture pages on my website.

Bottom Line on Your Book Journey

With great excitement I say Just Go For It! Just plan it out well, do lots of online research and talk to other writers and book illustrators and publishing professionals. If you have a great story be patient with the final manuscript as you share it with publishing companies, which of course most are swamped with new manuscripts, which of course the established writers get the priority but they probably had a much more challenging time getting their first works looked at and published than you and other new writers have the opportunity to do in this time of history.

Advice

Already gave most of it but I encourage new writers and illustrators to never give up, and just because you get turned down a few times it doesn’t mean it’s not good, it just means there’s a better opportunity somewhere down the road.

Keep writing and rewriting and coming up with new stories. You can also start your own story blog or website.

Have fun and thanks for reading this, it took great effort and focus to write this out in the great outdoors near the cottonwood forest where the white spirit wolf roams waiting for it’s mate to return.

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