They say that you should always try to take one thing away from any conference you attend. What I took home from NESCBWI 2015 was a decision.
For over a year I've debated the idea of self-publishing my middle grade novel, The Sweet Spot. I starting slow, telling myself I was only making copies of the book for myself and for my kids to read before they got too old. I looked into options for turning my manuscript into a book, and after exploring on demand bookstore printing presses and other self-publishing sites, I settled on Amazon's CreateSpace. Without opening the publishing channels, I learned how to use their template to format my manuscript and played around with five different book covers until I finally hired the art teacher at my elementary school to help make one I was happy to display. I printed copies for my kids' school, my classroom, a few family members, and my school library (my first sale!). And that was it. And I was content - ish.
But then this crazy thing happened. Kids started reading my book. Not just my own children or my class, but other kids who found it in the school library. I'd walk in and they would say, "Mrs. Mozer, I checked your book out. And I'm reading it. And I really, really love it!" All of a sudden I stopped feeling like a writer. I felt like an author! It was great. I wanted more of that feeling, but I still hesitated. Pushing the self-publish button felt like a decision that once made, could never be taken back. Or at least that's what I had heard, again and again. That unless a self-published book sold and sold well, the writer was doomed to self-publish forever.
That's where I was, with my finger hanging above the self-publish button, afraid to push down, when I went to NESCBWI 2015. For the first time (at least that I noticed) the term "hybrid author" was discussed as a valid concept. Stephen Mooser was even one of these hybrid authors, having decided after years of being traditionally published to self-publish his latest novel. Panelists and workshop leaders talked about making the best publishing decision for each book instead of everything an author writes. Suddenly the button stopped looking so big and scary. Pushing it didn't mean that from now on every book I wrote would have to be self-published. I could make the decision for just this one.
The Sweet Spot will release from Amazon on June 11, 2015. I'm very excited to be getting this book out into the world and I know it was the right decision for this book.
What I will do with my next one, well that will be another journey. In the meantime, I am enjoying the ride.