My Adventure in Self-Publishing

A seasoned writer and book author finds a way to tell “the rest of the story.”

by Dec 30, 2011

Kitty Slattery

We are all storytellers. Indeed, there are many who believe that the desire and ability to tell stories is a primary characteristic of being human. There’s a reason God made us this way.

When we choose to step out in faith, take a risk and share our stories–whether around the dinner table with our family, over a cup of coffee with a friend, through the pages of a book or in the digital glow of an e-book–beautiful and amazing things can happen. 

Through the power of God’s grace, our hearts are opened.  We realize we are not alone with our various human frailties, fears and failures.  In a word, we connect

In the most delightful way, God uses our stories to help us as well as others as we travel along life’s journey. And if getting a story published is something that God wants for His good purposes, then nothing can stop it from happening.

At the same time, God has a way of doing things in His own time, in His own way. 

I’ll never forget the summer afternoon I met with my editor at Guideposts Books to discuss the first draft of my memoir, Lost & Found: One Daughter’s Story of Amazing Grace

As with my previous books, I was working within a traditional publishing arrangement.  I had a contract with a deadline and had been paid a modest advance.  I had worked on the book non-stop for nearly a year, and this meeting marked the half-way point in the book’s progress.  She opened the black plastic loose-leaf binder with my three-inch thick 225-page manuscript, looked at me kindly, and shook her head. 

Uh-oh, I thought.  I’d had enough meetings with editors over the years to know that look.

“Oh, Kitty,” she said, “you’re off to a great start.  But you’ve got a lot more work to do.  Delightful as many of these stories are (she pinched a good half-inch of the manuscript) they do not work for this book.”

My heart sank.

“Don’t worry,” she smiled brightly, and patted my shoulder. “They will be perfect for your next book.” 

“My next book?”

“Yes,” she said. “Your next book.”

But I haven’t even finished this book! I thought with dismay.  Any “next book” seemed impossibly far away. 

Still, deep down inside I knew my editor was right.  Lost & Found was an inspirational memoir specifically about forgiveness, reconciliation and healing–the healing of a wounded relationship between my mom and me, plus the healing of my eating disorder–and in order to tell the story fully and honestly, I would have to stay focused like a laser beam on those themes, and those themes only.

But my life consisted of so much more than the story told in Lost & Found! I thought.  There were so many more tender moments shared with my parents, children  and husband... so many more important life-lessons learned... so much more laughter and joy!  For my family especially, I wanted to share, as the late, great radio legend Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

After the publication of Lost & Found (with its necessary specific, limited narrative and themes) it was my heart's desire to get "the rest of the story" out, to create a more fully developed portrayal of my parents. I guess you could say I deeply wanted to honor my mom and dad, who were wonderful people, and who did a great job as parents.

So I got to work on a collection of true, first-person stories that follow the narrative arc of an everyday mom, daughter, sister, wife and friend and explore the joys and challenges of life’s changing seasons... from being a young mother... to being a member of the “Sandwich Generation”... to being an empty nester and losing my mother... to being a joyful mother of the bride.

I called the book Heart Songs: A Family Treasury of True Stories of Hope and Inspiration, and as I do with every book I finish, I said a little prayer: “God, this book belongs to you.  If you want to get it published, show me the way.”   

I then shared the manuscript with David Morris, the Editor-in-Chief at Guideposts Books, who surprised me with his response. “Kitty,” he said, “I think this would be terrific for our new self-publishing line, Inspiring Voices.”

Self-publishing?  My initial reaction was one of vague suspicion, and, truth be told, I was a little hurt.  Heart Songs was my seventh book.  I thought only first-time authors self-published. 

David explained to me that Guideposts Inspiring Voices is what is known as a “non-traditional indie publisher” and detailed the advantages, including not needing an agent. The author also gets to decide what text, title, cover, images, illustrations, fonts, and so on, are used in the book.  The timeline from start to finish is much quicker than a traditional publisher, which can take two or more years to complete.  With the development of new “print on demand” and e-book technologies, self-publishing is far more cost-effective than it used to be, and as a result it is becoming increasingly popular with both established and first-time authors. 

Most importantly, David emphasized, there is no longer any stigma associated with self-publishing.  Indeed, many believe that indie publishing is the wave of the future, as indie books can be creatively and successfully marketed through social networks and Internet book vendors.  He encouraged me to visit the Inspiring Voices website to learn more, which I did, and I was impressed. 

I talked it over with my husband Tom, and I remembered my prayer, asking God to show me the way...  The answer was clear: Yes, I would publish Heart Songs with Guideposts Inspiring Voices. And thanks to Inspiring Voices, I have been given the opportunity to create a beautiful new book–just the way I want it, complete with photos and original illustrations–for my family, friends–and readers everywhere.

Heart Songs is available from Amazon.com as well as InspiringVoices.com.

Watch as Kitty Slattery discusses the Inspiring Voices Book Publishing Contest.

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