I enjoyed a wonderful lunch yesterday with Lisa Young, a self-published author of two (that’s right — TWO) children’s books. And she has a third in the works that will, hopefully, be out in time for Christmas. Although she’s not going to let herself get stressed out about that impending deadline. She believes everything will ultimately turn out perfectly anyway so she might as well just relax and enjoy the process. And, judging from our conversation, she truly has enjoyed every step of her self-publishing adventure.
Since I’m only a few steps into my own self-publishing journey, I had a LOT of questions for Lisa. She was very gracious and generous with her answers, providing lots of support and encouragement and suggestions, along with a few stories about the twists and turns of life, the blessings of children and the gifts that arise from grief. Which is not surprising, considering that’s what writers are all about – sharing our stories.
As far as self-publishing goes, the Lisa nuggets that immediately jump to mind as I write this 24 hours later are:
1. Relax and enjoy the process. (see paragraph number one above)
2. Always remain true to your vision. Remember that every other person involved in this project — the illustrator, formatter, printer — is working for you and they will all have their own ideas about how things should be done. By all means, draw on their expertise — after all, that’s why you hired them — but ultimately this is your baby. Keep your vision front and center.
3. Don’t second-guess yourself. Our own fears and self-doubts can (and will) do their best to poke holes in our vision and we can end up talking ourselves out of every brilliant idea we ever had. Guard against that. Go with that splendid initial idea. Some tweaking may be in order, but probably not as much as your overactive inner critic might think. And when faced with the paper/font/color/formatting/ etc.etc.etc choices that come up during the pre-printing process, go with your initial decision and don’t waste any more time agonizing over whether or not you did the right thing. What’s done is done – move on!
4. The best pens for signing books are the Sharpies brand. I didn’t even know Sharpies made ball point pens, but they do. And according to Lisa they are the absolute best for not smearing.
I love that last point! Yes, we all need big picture inspiration, but a practical point about non-smearing pens is invaluable for an author who envisions autographing a lot of books. And what author doesn’t envision that?
Lisa’s first book, The Friendship of Magpie and Crow, is a story about friendship. Find out more about the inspiration for that book (and about Lisa) on the About Our Author link at Books of the Tundra.
The hero of her second book, Scamper, learns that it is love that makes a family, not what that family “looks” like. Scamper was the winner of the 2010 Paris Book Festival Children’s Literature Category, so now all the Scamper books wear a lovely gold seal announcing that fact. How exciting is that?!
In her upcoming third book, about an adventurous carrier pigeon named Beatrice, Lisa is branching out into the chapter book market. And, from the sounds of things, Beatrice has more adventures tucked under her wings than will fit into one book.
Magpie, Crow, Scamper and (hopefully) Beatrice will all be with Lisa at the Children’s Book Festival in Calgary on Saturday, November 27th. She would love to see you there and introduce you to all her friends! And if you can’t make the festival, you can always take a peek online at Books of the Tundra.
Thanks, Lisa, for an informative and inspiring lunch-time conversation that was even more delicious than the food!