There are a number of hurdles to overcome before seeing our words in print. Some of those set-backs occur on the “desk side” of the process: our own ability to maintain focus and actually finish a writing project.
Sometimes, though, the problems come on the “print side.”
I first met June Estep Fiorelli through a mutual friend. She had just negotiated a contract with a vanity press to have a collection of children’s poems published, but she was having second thoughts about the deal. Mainly, the project was reasonably priced, up front, but would produce a book that would be cost-prohibitive for those June hoped would buy her poetry book: kids and those who might read to (or buy books for) kids.
The book was going to cost more than forty dollars per copy. For a paperback book.
Why Do We Write? (Or paint, or sculpt, or dance?)
This is another contradiction of the creative life: Most of us will produce our art because we feel compelled to—and we would continue to do so, even if there were no reasonable expectation of anyone else ever seeing our work—but we also believe, deep down, that the reason we are so compelled to create this work is that there is something of substance within it that will resonate with others and will somehow benefit the greater good.
The book or concerto or movie we develop will, we believe, mean something to someone else, if it is just given a chance.
June was faced with this simple dilemma: She had worked for decades to compile these children’s poems, and she wanted to see them in a collected form because it was a symbol of her life’s work of teaching, mentoring, and caring for the development of children; but she also wanted those poems to serve more than just a symbolic role: she wanted to know children would have access to the poems for years to come.
And she knew it would be a hard sell to get a parent or grandparent or classroom teacher to purchase a collection of poems that was priced the same as a whole stack of other books, no matter how good the poems may be.
What a World, What a Wonderful World
When June reached out to me, she expressed this dilemma, and said our mutual friend thought maybe I could help.
And, I could. As with all good dilemmas, I helped by re-framing the parameters: rather than seeking a vanity press or going through the long process of traditional publishing, I offered a third way.
I call it, Guided Self-Publishing. In guided self-publishing, I work with the author who is not completely comfortable with the nuts and bolts of the self-publishing process to make sure things run smoothly and that they have a well-made, quality product they are happy with in a creative sense, but also can share with a wider audience.
In June’s case, we were able to create Stuck Toast and Mud Pies. It is a lovely paperback book of 142 pages, with a beautiful cover, filled with fun poems and wonderful illustrations. The retail price for the book is not more than a tank of gas, like her other publishing option was going to be, but a reasonably priced $14.99. All of June’s poems—including ones that had been previously published, and ones published here for the first time—are all in one volume which is accessible and attractive to readers.
June and I were able to work through the process of creating a book that is both a fitting testament to a life spent caring for and nurturing children, and a book that will continue to be a point of inspiration and encouragement for readers for years to come.
When you hear about June’s journey from dilemma to “problem solved,” what comes to mind? Is there a hurdle in your own creative life that you’ve not yet figured out how to overcome? I’d love to hear about that, if you’d care to share. And your stumbling block may be the same one another reader is dealing with…