Book Five, what is going on?!

I have gotten a lot of inquiry about my next project (Book 5 as I’ve called it). So, let me explain what is going on.

I started a project for a new children’s book that was based on my own life growing up in the US and Mexico. I thought it was going to be a very important story to tell considering our current political climate and the misconceptions about who immigrants are and what they are like.

My experience consisted of growing up in the US, but always being surrounded by Mexican traditions, culture, and the Spanish language. Then, I had the chance to live in Mexico for a year, but assimilating was much harder than I thought it would be. Then, when moving back to the US, having to assimilate AGAIN just caused a lot more trauma than anyone could have ever imagined. Compared to what others have experienced, my own childhood was cake but when I started drawing the illustrations, and forcing myself to go back to those events and relive in my mind the negative experiences, I found that it was incredibly difficult for me. I would be sitting at my desk trying to draw and color my illustrations and sobbing at the same time because the memories that would come flooding back were really difficult to relive. It was difficult to see myself on paper experiencing the negativity.

So, I had to do something very difficult. I had to put that project away. I figured I would put it away for a couple of weeks, and come back to it. It has been over a year since I have touched that project. I just can’t bring myself to continue to work on it again. I am sure that I will pick it back up when I am ready, but right now is not the right time.

I decided to move forward with a different project that is similar, but easier for me to be involved in. It will be another collaboration, and a story that is really near and dear to my heart. This will be the new “Book 5”. I have come really far in this project already, and I will continue to work on it until it is finished. Hopefully, it will be finished and published by January 2019.

I swear it is coming, be patient.

-Carol

P.S. I actually have SEVERAL projects that I am working on SIMULTANEOUSLY! So, there will be a lot more coming from me in the next couple of years. Many of which are independent works, but a small handful that will be collaborative works.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Why Self Publish?

A question that I get asked all the time, is why did I decide to self-publish?

Like anything, there are pros and cons to going with a traditional publisher just like there are pros and cons with self publishing. Let me just try and break it down into a list.

Publisher

Pros:

  • No initial investment on your part. One of the biggest benefits of having a publisher, is that you don’t front the initial investment that it would take to print several hundred books. The publisher takes that risk, which is why they have a pretty strict guideline of what they accept or don’t accept.

  • Free Advertising. The publisher is in debt from printing your books, and they are going to want to make their money back, so you will find that they advertise for your book in order to create excitement. Although, I’ve also heard from other author friends that they don’t actually advertise as much as we think they might. Obviously if they have a big name author like Stephen King, then they will spend a lot more money advertising because it is almost a guaranteed return for them. But with a first time author, or a small time author, they might not be willing to spend as much.

  • Potentially more avenues for sales. Publishers have contacts and contracts with bookstores, and different events that would allow you to sell your books.

Cons:

  • Loss of independence. A publisher has the right to have their “hand” in what you are creating. They would be able to tell you whether they want you to change your story, change the illustrations, go with a different illustrator, etc. They can change and mold YOUR book into what they think will sell. One of the biggest things that I wanted as an author was to create my books the way that I imagined them and not lose the authenticity of my idea.

  • Selling your rights. Even though your book might still have your name as the author, illustrator, or creator of this work, the publisher requires that you sell your rights to your book. What that means is that you are selling the right to do what you want with your book. The publisher requires ownership of your book in order to print copies, and have control of the sales of your book. I have also heard from other fellow authors that getting back the rights to your own book, is much much harder than it is to sell the rights.

  • Royalties. The publisher will contract with you and negotiate a percentage of the sales that will go directly to you. In some cases it can be as low as 3%. On average, it is about 10%. So, if you sell a book for $20, you will only be getting $2 per book sold (if you contracted at 10%).

Self Publishing

Pros:

  • Complete 100% independence. You decide what you want to do with your book, who you want to hire for editing, illustrating, what your budget is, etc. You are 100% in control of your book. This can be a HUGE pro, although I recognize that some people might be afraid of this and might need some guidance. Guidance or not, that can come easily. The point is having complete creative freedom, which for me, was VERY important.

  • Don’t sell your rights. The rights to my books are mine, and no one can take that away from me. I can choose to do whatever I want with my books whether it is creating different products to sell (t-shirts, puzzles, calendars, whatever), advertising material, sequels to books, etc. I have complete control and independence to do with my books as I see fit.

  • Profits. Because I own the rights to my books, I keep 100% of the revenue from my books. If I want to charge $20 or $10 for a book, that choice is mine to make and I keep all of it, not only a small percentage of it.

Cons:

  • Cost. You do have to be the initial investor in order to print your books. You might only be able to afford 100, 300, or 500 books at one time. Unlike a publisher, they might be able to print 1,000 or more to start. Unfortunately, either way, the risk of potentially having a closet full of books is very real. Also, there are additional expenses such as paying for professional editing, illustrating, design, ISBN numbers, copyrights, etc. AND, the return on your investment might be slow and over a long period of time.

  • Heavier Responsibility. Because you are in charge of your book 100%, that means that you don’t have the help or expertise of a team of people. For example, you might have an excellent story, with amazing pictures, but you would need to hire an editor, or a designer to put your book together. But if you are like me, and you are technologically inclined, you can do all the parts of putting your book together yourself. You might need to do a lot of research and communicating with different printing companies to find the one that matches your wants and needs.

  • Heavier Responsibility (seriously). The responsibility of advertising, sales, creating a market, shipping, etc. all falls on you. If you are not willing or capable of doing the leg work to get the word out there that you have a product to sell, then this is probably not the way to go for you. You are your own marketing team, your own manager, publisher, shipping company, etc. You are responsible for logistics, shipping, everything. Seriously. EVERYTHING. This might be a scary idea, but for me, the ability to be the sole person responsible for the success or failures of my books was exactly what I wanted and needed.

In the end, whether you decide to self publish or go with a publishing company, the end result is the same. You have successfully published a book and that is an amazing accomplishment.

California to Virginia

I was recently invited to speak at my local library about the creative process of writing and illustrating children's books as well as the process to self-publish. It was a really great experience being able to share so much information with so many people, answer many questions, and talk about many things that occur behind the scenes that no one really talks about. During my talk, there were MANY questions from the audience, and I decided to take a few of those questions, and answer them in a blog format in order to reach more people, and share some of the information that came from my talk.

Here goes! The first question I am going to answer, is why would I leave sunny California for Virginia?

So, several things happened in my life to push me away from California. In the summer of 2012, I attended the Deaf Nation World Expo in Las Vegas, NV. It was a huge event where people from all over the world come to this expo to meet other signers. During this time, I met many people from all over the world. It made me realize how little I knew about the world, and how much I had been missing out. I met a friend who at the time was a student at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Gallaudet is the only university for the Deaf in the world and I was excited to have met someone that was a student there. He invited me to stay with him and his roommates in DC and get to know the east coast. I took him up on his offer, and in September 2012, I was in DC. This trip made me realize that I was living under a rock for most of my life. I hadn't traveled anywhere, and I was feeling rather small and naive. I hadn't lived yet. Another reason that I decided to move, was that I was feeling unsuccessful. Because of the high cost of living, I felt like I was never going to be successful on my own. I would never be able to afford an apartment on my own, and buying a house was going to take me my entire life. I wanted to have my horse close by, but there is no land in California. I knew that the cost of living in other states was much lower, but I hadn't experienced it for myself yet. I wasn't enjoying the idea of having to live at home until I married. I wanted to be able to do it on my own.

When it was time to come back home to California from my East Coast trip, I sat at the train station at Union Station in DC, thinking about what my life would be like if I decided to miss my train, miss my plane trip, and just stay in DC. I would find work, and start my life anew with whatever I had on my person at the time. I decided that this was what I wanted to do, but I came to my senses, and decided to go back to California, to move out "the right way". I would go home and pack my things, I would drive my car, and bring my horse and motorcycle with me. I didn't want to leave my possessions behind. I didn't want my belongings to become a burden for my family back home. So I promised myself that I would be back to Washington, D.C. before I knew it.

I arrived home in California and began my planning. I packed all of my belongings, I researched for places to live in the east coast, places where I could board my horse, places to work, and everything that I thought I would need to make it all work. At the time, I wasn't working very much because my current job was only part time. I funded my move with my student loans that I was getting for the new upcoming semester, which I had intentionally registered for, but knew I wouldn't attend. I knew I would have to pay that money back, but it was just enough to get me to the east coast. I think I started with a little less than $2,000. I ended up buying a horse trailer for about $800, and hired my uncle to help me fix it and make sure that it would make the long trip. I paid all my bills in California, and tried to save as much money as I could for the move. I sold several of my possessions, but ended up bringing the majority of my belongings with me. I asked a dear friend of mine, Cara to fly to California from New York, and help me drive across the country. She was a seasoned "cross country driver", and I knew she would be perfect for accompanying me. It took me one month to plan as much as I could, and by November 9th, around 2am, I left California...

The story of the trip, on my next blog.

A New Beginning

It has been a little over three months since my fiancé and I bought our first house in Bremo Bluff, Virginia. Anyone that has ever bought a house, doesn't need me to explain the countless hours spent researching, looking at houses, going over every detail about every property to find the one that fits the best. It was debilitating to say the least. But, once we arrived to closing day, it felt so surreal that we had literally survived the house buying process.

To top it all off, during this entire time, I had been working on a collaborative project with a fellow author from my hometown in California. My first three books were all illustrated, written, and published in about an average of three months. This book has taken over a year to complete. But, I am happy to say that the day is soon arriving. The illustrations have been completed, the story has been written, and now the minor details and being cared for. Little Miss Bubba will be revealed to the world at the end of this year in time for Christmas. I can't express how excited I am to share this wonderful story, with an equally wonderful message.

-Carol