What if you (yes, YOU.) answered God's call to publish in 2014? Would you, if you knew you would not fail?
KC here. In 2011 we published our first middle-grade adventure novel. By 2013, there were three! However, it took me awhile to follow God’s call. Perhaps joining my journey-in-progress will help you… with yours.
My call begins with a little rescued Schnauzer and a move from Houston in July, 2001.
About a month before our planned move, a neighbor pleaded with us to rescue a dog belonging to her daughter’s friend. Poor puppy lived in a cage nearly 24/7.
So we did.
**Book 1 is mostly all true when you want to investigate. Know there’s some literary license… Shhh. May’s not really a spy.
To save money, my husband, Steve and I, plus THREE rescued dogs and two horses, moved into our new barn in rural Tennessee. During the day we humans built our house alongside the workmen.
7 weeks after arriving, America was under attack! What if communications went down or supplies ran out? What about our families? Other terrorists? What if… what if?
You remember the uncertainty surrounding 9/11. However God was definitely behind our move, so we kept building and praying…
May supervised. :)
After almost a year, we moved into the house. WAHOO! Next, we needed money coming in instead of going out. But the country was still edgy. We prayed about what was next and searched for employment.
When an excellent work opportunity appeared, it seemed this was God’s calling for my husband. But his new job would take him away for months. What about me?
Suddenly I had TIME. What if God was calling me *gulp* to write? He seemed to show me that people needed encouragement amidst the chaos. But what should I do about it?
With Steve’s support, I took the Christian Writers Guild Apprentice Course (then a two-year study). Loved it.
Then time slipped by… I volunteered, I traveled some with him, I tinkered on the house. Then he came home and we started, worked and sold a business.
Can you say, “Run awayyyy”? Call me Jonah.
By then, I’d almost stopped sleeping. At all hours I’d think about May as a character. Truly, I admired this badly abused dog who exhibited such confidence in the Creator, contrasting strongly with my lack.
So… What if I stopped running? What if, with God’s direction, I created imaginative stories starring May, brimming with hope, opportunity and truth? And what if, since I’m an educator, I shared them with children who struggle in today’s uncertain world, maybe adults too?
One April 2008 morning, in desperation, I said out loud to God, “ALRIGHT!” and began writing. The K9 indie publishing adventure began!
Pantster alert. Months into writing Book 1, it hit me - May is a K9 Spy! As pages filled, I slept normally again. But what to DO with our spy dog?
I studied the competition, reviewed business objectives with my husband, attended conferences and prayer, ultimately deciding to produce the story in hardcover. After meeting Vicki Allen at the Southern Festival of Books and learning she’d been using Sheridan Books for several years, I requested quotes from several sources and also decided on Sheridan.
FYI - Physical books require many, many more decisions than e-books, and cost more obviously. Services like Lightning Source or CreateSpace can do most or all of the necessary tasks other than writing the actual story OR you can become your own publisher and hire a manufacturer for production like I did.
I fine-tuned the following process as I went, with most everything done online. (Click links for more info. Just remember, all this happens BEFORE any sales.)
- Perused dozens of options, chose a popular size with colored, printed endsheets, no jacket, ivory pages.
- SWAGged the print run. (Larger quantities cheaper per copy.)
- Arranged for shrink-wrapping, shipping and storage.
- Learned to perfect the file before submission. ($5 per page for changes.)
- Hired pawmazing editor Sandra Byrd, mentor from the Christian Writers Guild. Made almost every change suggested.
- Shot May photos for covers myself and hired a designer.
- Searched for and contracted illustrator (major expense unless you’re like Rita Monette).
- Determined which drawings should “bleed,” lead a chapter, fill a page.
- Hired Six Penny Graphics to format.
- Hired Amber Stokes to prepare some promotion.
- Found beta and proofreaders.
- Analyzed all critiques/suggestions and made necessary changes.
- Sourced/purchased plush critters, snazzy gift bags, stationery, postcards, shipping cartons, giveaways, etc.
- Started May’s Facebook page.
- Discovered the blessing of Seekerville!
Finally, a production date was set with Sheridan, 4-5 weeks after initial submission. As an extra-special treat (for book 1), my Steve sent me to experience “hot off the press” where, upon seeing them finished, I burst into tears. The production guy gasped, “What’s wrong?” Tears streaming, I said, “It’s all good! I’ve just been working so hard for 4 years…”
A week later, they arrive.
Hubby and I take them wherever we travel, selling many in airports and hotels. We partner with Joshua's Pet Treat Bakery at spring festivals and fall shows. We place our items in restaurants, hair salons, gift shops. I network with other authors whenever possible. (Hi Janice! Hi Bev!) I teach writing in classrooms no charge, asking only for transportation funds and the opportunity to sell our products.
Bottom lines are important. Rapidly diminishing inventory is every publisher’s dream. B-b-but… What if none of my books make a 2nd printing? What if I give away more than I sell? What if others are more “successful” than me?
Righty-o. What if the Lord wants me to fully trust Him, not only with writing, but with the business?
When a kid returns to a festival to give you a thank-you-for-writing hug… Or an adult, abused as a child, comes by to say your book has healed her… Doubts vanish. God’s call is loud and clear.
His ways are not mine. If He asks me to follow, and I (finally) do, how could that ever be failure?
Where are YOU in the journey? What if you - yes YOU! - answer God’s call to publish in 2014?
We’ve set out the nice china and treats, let’s chat. One commenter will receive the full set of May’s books, personalized & pawographed! And to another commenter a full set of May's books, digital version. Let us know what you want to win! Winners announced in the Weekend Edtion.
May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy, 2011 After escaping abuse through adoption into the home of a grouchy Labrador, May is out where she’s not supposed to be… and soon is on the way to becoming a K9 Spy.
May Finds a Way: Peril in Paris, 2012 When a K9 Spy Boot Camp exercise goes awry, May is dognapped and ends up in Paris. Ever resourceful, she joins a feral cat to thwart an evil plot.
May Leads the Way: Trouble Near Tofino, 2013 May graduates! Her first mission is classified. All we can say is… Enemy dolphins. Nuclear Submarines.
KC and her husband volunteer with a variety of projects, including the Joni & Friends Wounded Warrior Getaway. They enjoy traveling just about anywhere, which helps formulate ideas for May the K9 Spy. The family lives in the country hills of middle Tennessee with two Arabian horses and several rescued dogs, including the real May.
KC and May (when she's not on a mission) are delighted to meet fans at libraries, schools, craft fairs and shows. They read each letter and email, and adore hearing comments and suggestions. They especially appreciate those who make time to post honest reviews.
Find her at www.maythek9spy.com
Please join May’s pack on Facebook and bring your FURiends!
THIS JUST IN FROM MAY...Book 1, May on the Way: How I Become a K9 Spy, the book that started it all, will be free for Kindle for five days only. Starting today.