Do you ever feel like this little girl must be feeling? That’s been me lately.
You’re familiar with the warning on passenger side-view mirrors: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Well, now that it is 2019 my first book is closer to coming into existence, and maybe even more so than it appeared to me only a few weeks ago.
Six months ago I didn’t even know what a poetry chapbook was. Yet when I discovered what it was, I set a goal to publish one! Chapbooks used to be, and sometimes still are, bound together by the author rather than mass produced. It’s a showcase of select poems based around a common theme. To learn more about the history behind chapbooks, check out this lovely explanation below written by the poet E. Kristin Anderson.
Back in May of 2018 I decided, in a burst of optimistic confidence, that I would self-publish my poetry, and start on it soon. It wasn’t sudden in the sense that I’d never had a goal to get published before. I always dreamed of publishing YA novels like the ones I devoured in my junior high and high school years. And then, for Christmas of 2014 my mother gave me a book called Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico, which she found used. It seemed a little quaint with it’s yellowed pages, copyright date of 1983, and picture of a multicolored and almost psychedelic typewriter flying through a cloudy sky on the front cover.
This book, full of writing exercises used to engage both sides of your brain and learn expressive writing techniques, engendered a love of writing poetry in me. Yes, I’d written a few poems here and there before this, but my focus was always on prose. Then, something changed. The exercises for shorter vignettes made it natural for me to choose poetry as the form to complete them. Without my mom’s gift, I don’t know if I would have ever gotten to this point. After going through several of the exercises, I began to produce poems I almost felt proud of.
I brought these poems to share with my writing group, who gave me more encouragement and praise than I ever expected. Eventually they began to ask when I was going to publish my poems. I didn’t think much of doing so in the beginning, because I still thought I should go with my original plan of publishing prose only. But life surprises you sometimes, and it felt right to begin to share my poetry with the world, starting with some very personal poems I wrote for friends. Later on, I plan to share my other poems in larger poetry collections. It wasn’t too long ago that I realized, looking through my work, that yes, I did indeed have enough material ready to publish, not just one book of poetry, but two or three!
Here are some of the more major steps I’ve taken along the way.
First, in June, after coming back from a dazzling choir trip in New York City, I was ready to start learning. I attended a writer’s retreat and took a mini self-publishing class from Marsha Ward, the founder of the American Night Writers Association, of which I am a member.
Second, I met up with a special co-worker and friend who agreed to help me plan my publishing goals and support me along the way. We met several times to discuss what I’d learned, what I’d completed, and what my next steps were.
Third, on July 24th, I found a poetry chapbook publishing company and submitted my chapbook for practice and on the small chance I might be published in a more traditional way. On November 18th, I finally heard back. My book was not selected (Yay! I earned my very first rejection!) among the many other entries. I decided to go ahead and self-publish the chapbook instead of submit to other small presses and play the waiting game longer.
Fourth, I created this website and blog on October 26th. For several years I knew I needed to create a website if I wanted to be a published author, and as I mentioned in my very first post, fear kept me from starting this sooner. Finally, on December 29th, I set up my Facebook author page.
Fifth, I moved my goal of publishing my first book by August 2019 to before my next birthday on March 6th. On New Year’s Eve of 2018 I nailed down the company I’d ask for help with formatting for print and e-book distribution, as well as creating the book cover. For several months I contemplated doing these myself and researched into how. It can be done, but ultimately I decided to add someone else to my team to save some time and stress.
Thank you for coming along with me on this ride. Stay tuned for my release date early this year as well as a book cover reveal!