Once I decided I would be self-publishing Caroline Girls, I realized three things: I knew what I wanted to do, I knew what would be required, I didn’t know my options. So I did what any neophyte would do: I spent time Googling my questions and asking people on Twitter.
Quickly, I learned a great deal and became overwhelmed by the possibilities. The self-doubt started creeping back in. Self-publishing has come a long way. Options like CreateSpace or IngramSpark offer many options for authors hoping to self-publish, but neither were right for me. I needed to publish a picture book. CreateSpace and IngramSpark were designed for people who were primarily printing in black and white.
I tried a handful of tweets at a couple of different times during the course of a week asking for help with children’s book illustrators. Finally, an agent tweeted me back saying he could help me. I emailed him back and forth a few times and we chatted on the phone. Once he was clear on what I wanted to do, he sent me 6 or 7 different illustrators he represented. Once I selected an illustrator, he would contact them to find out if they were interested in the project. Immediately, I honed in on Marilena Perilli. Her work encapsulated the images I saw in my head. I also chose a second illustrator in the event she wasn’t available or interested.
The agent came back and said Marilena was interested in my project. Coincidentally, her mother had died a few months before and her name was Caroline. As soon as she saw the project, she told the agent she felt compelled to help me. Plus, she thought the story was really cute.
I was really particular about the look of the Caroline Girl. I wanted her to look like my Caroline. I sent her several images as well as linked her with my Instagram account. We quickly were able to dial in the Caroline Girl. I created a story-board with the way I saw the story coming together in my head and sent it to her and then let her take creative license on the project.
When I saw her first draft of the book, I fell in LOVE. I’m so lucky to have found such a professional and easy to work with illustrator! Her images are absolutely perfect!! To say I’m happy with the way things turned out is an understatement. She also prepared the book for print.
Then I had to find a place to print the book once it was completed. Again, so many options!! Most printers wanted you to print 1,000 copies. ONE THOUSAND COPIES!! Holy crap! I kind of freaked out. I wasn’t sure I could sell 1,000 copies of my book! But to print 500 copies was nearly the same price because the cost to print each book nearly doubled … so I decided it was a better price per book to just go with 1,000 and hope for the best.
As a former communications professional, I realized the need to market the book was going to play a huge role in it’s success. So, I hired someone to help: a fellow stay-at-home mom with a career in marketing. I also hired a freelance graphic designer to help with the website.
I don’t have a small business loan. My husband and I are just paying this out of our own pockets, so the stakes are high. But I know if I don’t do the best I can, I will always wonder how this adorable little curly-haired, blue-eyed adventurous girl with an aversion to naps could have changed the world — and the landscape of self-publishing.