My Self-Publishing Journey


I actually have my books published and loaded on Amazon. I thought I would write about what I’ve done to get to this point. My thoughts about the experience, what I’ve learned, what I had to do multiple times to get it right, (or my perception of being right, which still could be wrong, I’m still figuring it out.)

It’s been incredibly frustrating and rewarding at the same time. When I started to write children’s books I knew absolutely nothing about it. Nothing! Only that I thought it would be cool to have a children’s book. At the time I had a young granddaughter and wanted to do it for her. I had the story that I thought needed to get out there, and I had the main characters, so off I went.

I got a little push from my mentor friend so I decided to just make it happen. First I needed an illustrator, I wanted to find someone local so I could work with them easily. I looked on the internet, all I could find there were illustrators that charged between $250.00 and $750.00 per page! I’m retired and have a limited budget for this project, so that was not going to work. I went to the local high school and found someone but they could not do digital drawings. I knew I was going to need them digitized but I thought we could work through that part. as it turned out the digital thing was more important, and of an obstacle than I thought. If you can’t digitize your illustrations you can’t publish a book. She did come up with a great illustration of Lenny. So I got my character design from her. I paid her for her work and moved on. I looked on Craigslist and found a guy that would do the entire book for $350.00! I was stoked! I called him, he was a retired professional comic artist that wanted to help people like me, so he worked cheap. He sounded genuine so I sent him his money and had him do the first page. He did a very nice drawing of the first page. Except he had his own idea of what Lenny should look like and I didn’t like it. He told me the author did not dictate to the illustrator what the drawings were going to look like! So, he sent me my money back and we parted ways. By now I was disappointed and perplexed. I knew how I wanted Lenny and his world to look and this guy said I had no input, it was all up to the artist. That didn’t make sense to me. I created the characters I should be involved with how they looked. I quit looking for about a month then went back on the internet. That’s when I found Fiverr! I have since discovered that some illustrators don’t want input from the author, others take the authors ideas and run with them, some greatly improve on the ideas!

I was amazed at all the people doing freelance work. It never dawned that there would be a place like that. But there is and it’s called Fiverr. I had a illustration of Lenny and a description of the background drawing I wanted. I picked 4 people that were in my price range and had them draw the illustration. I only got one back that I really liked. It was like the woman was in my head.  Her name is Balla Maher (probably not her real name) and she is in Pakistan. We are exactly 12 hours different on time so at 8:00 am here it’s 8:00 pm there. So when we are both on at the same time it’s like she is right next door. My issue with my illustrator not being close by has never been an issue.

Fiverr handles all the money and they take a small fee. Which I find annoying but they provide a valuable service and keep everyone happy so they deserve it. Bella sends me an offer and spells out what she will do and for what price. She charges $20.00 per page, I needed 38 illustrations. I accepted her offer and we started on my first book, Lenny the Lighthouse finds a dollar. Bella would send me a sketch, I would make changes or OK it like it was. Bella would send me sketches almost every day. It’s great fun to get a new sketch each morning. I would get on my computer, download the sketches, let Bella know what I thought, and we’d move on to the next one. After about 10 or so sketches, she pretty much knew what I wanted and she nailed it almost every time. When all the sketches were done she colored them and sent them to me. That was really cool to start getting colored illustrations! On Fiverr when the project is complete, you can accept it or make changes, you have the opportunity to leave a tip and a review. Bella has to wait 2 weeks before she gets her money. I believe Fiverr waits to see if everything is good then they release her money.

Now I have all my completed illustrations and the manuscript to my book. Now I need to put it together. I’m working with MS word. I did some research online to see what formats are needed to print my book and it’s mostly PDF so I’m good with that. I start setting up pages in word. In the beginning I was moving the illustrations around with the curser. I would just insert the picture on the page then try to get it centered with the text at the bottom of the page. I wanted my pictures to bleed, that means to run off the edge of the page. (I didn’t know that’s what it was called at first) Because of my lack of knowledge of word I couldn’t make that happen. I spent many many frustrating hours trying to set this up in word. After finally getting it done I sent it to for review and printing. I talked with a lady there named Christine. She had mentioned something called “text boxes”. I went back to MS word and looked into text boxes. OMG! A whole new world opened up to me! Now I could right my text and put it anywhere on the page! I know it sounds corny, but like I said I knew nothing, so this little tidbit was awesome! I went back and redid the entire book using text boxes! 10 times better, way more professional looking.