One of the toughest things they don’t tell you when working on a multi-faceted project like Outsmarting Manet, with all its moving parts and about a thousand other elements in the pot, is that it does take time and extreme patience. Between Ken and I, we both have our OCD tendencies especially when it comes to every nitty gritty detail from print to digital to production. We know perfection cannot be achieved overnight and maybe not at all, but we sure as heck can try to come real close. A big hurdle we’re trying to overcome at the moment as self-publishers, is finding a book printer that’s 1) affordable; 2) can meet the color qualities we need for the artwork in the book; and 3) is able to work with us through each print proof until it’s done right.
On Guam, we have limited options. After working with about four print agencies off-island and two here locally, we know at some point something has to give and we’ll have to make do with not having everything we want. We definitely do not, under any circumstances want to limit the interactive experience of our readers. Every element of this project is affected by the success of the final book product.
With FestPac 2016 coming close, the Guam Council of Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA) has put together a 5-week program for Indigenous Children’s book writers. Ms. Rosa Salas Palomo invited us to talk with the group to share the project journey and our overall experience as we work the kinks in getting our book printed. This was the first time we ever spoke to a group about the details of the journey. There were three other presenters who were a part of this panel: Ms. Dottie Winterle, author of “Grandma’s Love”, “Grandpa’s Love” and the “Legends of Guam”; Ms. Ann Rivera, a Chamorro poet and Ms.Maria Dooley, author of “Bonita the Bat.”
Being the newbie of the bunch, I could see the differences and the similarities in each of their experiences. They’re all such inspiring women, and it was clear they have a great passion for storytelling. They each had their own unique and distinct ways to get ideas on paper and offered great tips on how to combat our all too familiar enemy: writer’s block. Each of their journey stories were unique and offered fresh perspective. As intimidating as storytelling can be, these ladies definitely inspired us to record every story we could ever conceive on paper. And as exciting as their journey has been, the common struggle they shared was not in producing great children’s stories and getting books published, it was what came after that: getting people to buy the books.
Have a Marketing Plan
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a marketing plan for any project. It’s the one thing that continuously gets overlooked and often times is the last thing people plan for. But this is where the magic happens. This is where you as a creative have the ability to get people excited about your work. It’s not just about getting people to buy your book, it’s about connecting with them. You’d be amazed how the feedback you get in the planning, production and post production phases will help take your book or creative project to new limits. And while the point is not to take and apply every piece of criticism, you now have feedback that provides multiple perspectives that you may or may not have considered. You’ll soon find this type of transparency process is so valuable to the success of your creative project. Most of the time we forget communication is a two-way street. You want people to read your stories; to connect with your art and feel inspired, angry, anxious, empowered or whatever you want them to feel. Give them a reason to invest their valuable time in your content.
To some, selling comes easy, but all writers regardless of their expertise should have a marketing plan in place to help promote their book. It’s not that people aren’t interested in buying your book; most of the time it’s because they’re not aware a book of its kind exists. Children’s books come a dime a dozen these days, so to stand out there has to be some type of public awareness campaign to help spread the word. If your book is one of a kind, tell that story.
Check out Local Writing Workshops and Grow Your Network
There are so many talented storytellers here in the Marianas with such creative imaginations. It’s amazing to see more programs and workshops being offered to bring these amazing stories to light. Workshops like these connect people with shared interests so they can learn from each other and be the support system creatives need to get their stories published. It’s never an easy road, but no one should have to travel it alone.
Here at Kottura, we love to see creatives succeed. The arts don’t always get the exposure it so duly deserves, and we want to change that. If you or someone you know are interested in getting a book published or simply in need of some helpful tips and guidance on how to get started, get in contact with us today. We firmly support the arts and though the journey can be challenging, we want to be able to do what we can to help aspiring local writers and creatives in anyway we can.
While we can’t guarantee every project will go as planned, we’d like to think this first time around prepares us for much easier roads ahead. And maybe in the future things might not be as complicated, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it gets easier. Each project/story is different and requires different levels of effort and planning. If you recognize and accept that challenges do lie ahead, you will be better apt to change and learn to make modifications as you move along. You’ll have better tools and a clearer understanding for what to expect and you’ll be prepared to face those challenges straight on. Accept the Challenge: Get Your Work Published