Publishing a Children’s Book in Beijing – Phase Two

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Challenges and obstacles? Outta my way!

Well, things are going really well. As well as can be expected when you decide you’re just going to go ahead and publish a book yourself.

Did I really expect things to go sailingly smooth?

I’ve had some illustrator niggles, some time issues, some software issues, publisher issues and cataloguing issues. Also some computer issues. Our old PC decided to up and die on us last week. I was clutching at its every last dying breath when it’s antiquated carcass (2004!!) finally succumbed. A terrifying event. And one I really didn’t need at the time.

Yes, I was backed up, but it was still an unwanted drama, especially considering the fact that I’m not only trying to publish this children’s book, I’m also trying to finish a book for adults. All within the next three months.

We’re also selling our house in Aus, buying a new one, enrolling kids in unknown schools, packing up our lives here (you should see the troves of ribbon I have to sort through, and don’t even start me on the handbag and wooden toy collection), and trying to sort out a new life in Aus. Plus we still have to fit some travelling and some last-minute Beijing people/places/things in.

You could say I’m mildly stressed.

Or just daft.

Nonetheless. Challenges and obstacles? Outta my way! My belly is on fire and nothing is going to stop me powering through and getting these awfully large dreams of mine out of La La Land and into Reality. I’ll be hauling them out kicking and screaming like a newborn babe.

Don’t they say persistence is everything? Sheesh. Persistence is tough!

So, here’s where I’m at, all you budding book writers. Learn from this, people! Save yourself the strain.

I have the book coming together. But only after the publisher told me that the software I was using was not going to be good to print from. I had to buy some new software (FYI: Adobe Illlustrator, which I don’t know how to use). So, now the pages are being carefully crafted in .ai (after more coaching from my printer on size and dpi issues).

My illustrator had exams and was offline for so long, my face was permanently purple, but he’s coming through now.

I’ve contacted the Australian National Library and am sorting my Cataloguing-in-Publication Data entry (needed to publish a book in your home country). I’ve started looking into government and private grants to help promote and distribute the book at home. Many countries have government departments that encourage the home-Sino-affiliation through various means, including writing and the arts. Might as well apply – who knows.

I’ve also started contacting booksellers, both in-store and online in Australia. is a great resource, too, and they have programmes available online to help new authors.

On a more homey level, I’ve been keeping files cataloguing this entire process. I keep one for contacts on people I deal with, one on my expenses and several on the relevant information I need. I also back up and save several copies of my ISBN and barcodes, just in case of disasters (like PCs dying or something).

Keeping a timeline would also be a good idea, so you can have some kind of end-date and keep things at a pacey momentum. The last thing you need is a long pause that procrastination can slip into.

I need to keep this going because I’m short on time, but momentum is also very powerful. Set an end date that you can follow. I’ve gone and booked a launch date, even though this is a terrifying thing to do. But it’s also take-your-breath-away thrilling.

I’ve found people to stock the book here in Beijing – very supportive people. I’ve also carefully considered publicity and distribution, which really are your biggest costs (particularly give the fact that printing in China is so cheap).

So, that’s where I’m at. I’m 70 per cent done and time is ticking. Stay tuned!

And as for the adult book I’m putting out? Well, City Weekend readers, you’ll just have to wait and see!

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

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