How (and why) I Self Published My Children's Book or My Labor of Love-Part 1

I self published my first children's book in softcover using Print on Demand and sold 300 copies mostly at art fairs and festivals. At that point, having evidence of a market for my book, I produced a new hardcover edition and have sold 400 more copies. These are not bad numbers in the tough world of self publishing. Many people have approached me as they page through my book "Millicent and the Faraway Moon" and wax fondly about the children's book that they always intended or hoped to write someday. They pepper me with questions and I answer as many as my time, (usually at an outdoor art show) will allow. People generally seem to have a curiousity about the steps it takes to create a book, so I thought I would share my process and adventure into the world of self publishing in a few posts. 

Step one: Draw on a good or meaningful story. In my case the story grew out of a negative incident with a teacher in 5th grade. She berated me in front of the class because I couldn't do a math problem and swatted me with a yard stick. What hurt worse than the stick were the words she said. "You're no good, you're family is no good and you'll never amount to anything." Ouch.

I have lived with those words and feelings my whole life. They became my "not good enough story " that I have continued to struggle with. I had heard of therapies where adults write a letter to the child inside of them and say what they might say to another child to help them heal. So I thought I would write a letter to myself. Then I started thinking about other people and figured that I wasn't the only kid in the world to have her self esteem crushed by a mean person. So the letter morphed into a story and then a book. 

Since I had been painting cows for several years, it stood to reason that my characters should be cows. There was also no question that I would illustrate my book. The story is autobiographical. It starts out "Millicent was a sad and lonely" cow. I didn't have the greatest childhood, I was sad and lonely much of the time. It then moves into Millicent trying to succeed at something and be just as good as the other cows. That was me. I was always looking around at other people, trying to find out how they did it, what (I thought) made them better, more special than me.

But somehow, somewhere deep in my soul, I knew that I was just as special, talented, smart and capable of success as anyone out there and that one day, I would totally rise above the circumstances of my early life and touch the world in a grand way. So I decided to write the book and make tangible evidence of my future. I was writing a declaration! And so, while "Millicent starts out "sad and lonely" my book is a story of overcoming and triumph.

I can't say that I did a lot of research into publishing a book, I just thought: "I need to do this." And so I set about my project.

Once I wrote the story, I drew out what I imagined the book would look like in page layout in some sketched story boards....

I have been asked where the name "Millicent" came from. All I can do is point up. It was just given to me. The next step was to develop my characters which is where I will end for today and pick up in my next post.

 I invite you to stay with me through the journey of writing a kids book. It is no easy task and not for the faint of heart. If you are thinking about embarking on writing your own book, follow your heart and DO IT! But be ready to fully commit because it takes all the love, nurturing and hard work of raising a child. ( I know because I have one :0) Please feel free to comment or ask questions.....God Bless.. see you next post :0)

Millicent and the Faraway Moon available at:
(signed copies)
Barnes and
Chester County Books and Music 
Kathy's Corner Shop
Newark Arts Alliance