Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rhode Island Lighthouses and Narragansett Bay History

Our home in Arizona is filled with reminders of the ocean. The walls are covered with pictures of boats, framed charts of Narragansett Bay and a few fabulous lighthouses. Most guests who spend some time with us are treated to a history lesson from Emerson about "The Ocean State" as he walks them through the pictures, telling stories about his home state. Most recently, he tracks the sea gull's journey from Bristol, RI to Block Island, describing the various points along the way through Narragansett Bay.

A visit to our house is much like his presentations to children, taking them on the trip with the bagel loving seagull. Little did we know that he has been practicing his storytelling for over two years before the book was released. The message of sharing is certainly foremost for importance in the story. All parents we know would love for their own children to be as kind, generous and polite as this seagull. The geography and history Emerson shares during his presentation is a side benefit for those children fortunate to hear him read the book here in AZ. 
As you flip through the pages of "The Bay Gull," you may notice that several different lighthouses are part of the seagull's journey. Emerson incorporated six of Rhode Island's twenty one standing lighthouses which together protect ships from the 384 miles of shoreline in Narragansett Bay. His illustrations were created from photographs, drawn with accurate detail and incorporated into the book as resting places for the sea gull.
If you are interested in learning more, there are many lighthouse resources on-line. One of the best sites to check out Hog Island, Prudence Island, Castle Hill, Beavertail, North Light and Southeast Light is Lighthouse Friends. Thanks to their hard work, you can look up U.S. lighthouses by state, then click on each lighthouse individually to receive well organized, accurate, detailed information along with interesting stories about each one.
In addition to all the information, the site offers lighthouse merchandise. Perhaps we'll even have "The Bay Gull" available through their site one of these days!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Great Resources for Self Publishing

After publishing "The Bay Gull," my husband & I thought we had ALL this great advice for anyone else who was thinking about publishing a book. Although we successfully navigated through the unchartered waters for ourselves, we have since found some amazing resources that we wish we had seen 6 months ago!

By far, the very best tool that I found is a complete list of steps to take in order to publish your book. Small Publishers Association of North America offers a "Self Publishers FAQ" page with detailed information about every step involved in going from your creative work to a published book. We had all these steps scribbled on a sheet of paper thanks to a couple of self-published friends who helped guide us. I'm so glad that this organized list is available for you!

Another site with great tools available is Strategic Book Marketing. Our marketing strategy was in place before we even had the printer chosen. Many of the services they offer are areas that you will need to be thinking about as you plan how you will attack getting your book out to the public. Their blog also has great tips and is worth reading as you build your knowledge of the industry.

Best Children's Book is a site created by writer Steve Barancik. Check out the tab "Ready to Publish" for some real words about getting your book published but beware as this could be discouraging. However, look at it as an opportunity to know your obstacles. They will be there so why not be prepared?

I still need to go through this list of 50+ Sites for Book Lovers. There is a host of information available for you if you are willing to sift through and check out the different sites that can help you through the book business including review sites, communities, publishing resources & book searches.

These four resources could take quite a few hours to go through and I'm sure there are so many other great resources available. What would we do without the internet access to all this information?

It would be super to hear any comments about these links so let us know what you think and we'll look forward to hearing from you!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

4 Readings in AZ so far, many to go

Last Monday was the 4th "The Bay Gull" book event in Arizona. Thanks to everyone who came out to Berean's Bookstore in August, Momma's Organic Market in September, Mommy and Me at Community Church of Joy and to the 2nd - 4th grade students at Cross of Glory Lutheran School! Combined, I have had the opportunity to share the book with over 100 children in Arizona.

The readings often include applying elements of the book to specific activies or information for the children. The Mommy and Me storytime involved an activity for the children creating sailboats which ties in perfectly with history about Bristol, RI, my hometown. The Cross of Glory event covered information on creating illustrations, editing the story and publishing the book along with a geography lesson about New England which the students are currently studying in class. 

It is amazing how many children are interested in learning about writing a book. While I certainly am not an expert in the field, it is fun to share about the writing and illustration process with them. They will no doubt be using these skills through countless book reports over the years and it is exciting to be able to inspire them to pursue a dream.

The readings are free so please feel free to contact me through the website or post a comment on the Blog if you are in the Arizona area and would like to have "The Bay Gull" shared with your children's group or school.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Self Publishing "The Bay Gull"

Our decision to self publish was based on a cheap flight to RI. In March, 2009, we got a travel e-mail about some inexpensive flights and confirmed that these rates were available for the Fourth of July.
Timing was a major factor as the Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, RI is a HUGE event, probably the biggest thing in the town for the whole year. The book starts at Bristol Bagel Works which is located on Hope Street in Bristol and the sea gull travels south through Narragansett Bay ending his journey on Block Island. If you have had the opportunity to read "The Bay Gull," you may have noticed the red, white & blue road which is how the town paints the streets for the parade route on the Fourth.
The cheap flight was a sign to us that we should launch the book during our trip back east. After booking the flight, we started looking into how to publish our own book.
Our first call was to Mona's brother-in-law who works for a marketing company in CT. He gave us some leads on printing companies who he has done business with in the past. We contacted the companies, gave them access to the book and got some printing quotes. It was important for us that the book had a perfect bind and some companies were not able to create the binding we wanted. We did contact a bindery in MA which gave us a very expensive quote on a hard bound book.
The first contacts didn't work out too well and a couple of months had already gone by so now it was early May. Our enthusiasm about self publishing was starting to diminish but a visit from some friends helped re-ignite our spark to get the job done. We shared with them our goal and they were excited to get behind the project to support us in any way.
We geared up to get busy and starting searching the internet for publishing options, plus we had a local contact through a networking event in Arizona. Ultimately, we had 4 different companies giving us quotes on the project. It took almost four weeks for us to have 4 firm quotes for the job. Premier Graphics in Arizona had a talented staff, excellent customer service, a decent price and they knew we had a deadline (which was now only about 5 weeks away) that they were able to meet.
During this time as we were working to secure a printer, there were many other steps that we were completing including licensing our company, TINK INK Publishing, purchasing ISBN numbers and creating a website for the company. In addition, we created a group on Facebook for TINK INK Publishing to get the word out that the book would be published soon.
Next we began setting up Author Appearances for our trip to RI. The first few scheduled events were with friends who owned businesses (Social Expressions, Bristol Bagel Works, Out and About Kids) and were open to helping us debut the book. We followed up on some recommendations and secured a few more spots including A Novel Idea which is next to Bristol Bagel Works and The Armchair Sailor in Newport thanks to our friend's father who works there. One event was scheduled through an e-mail connection we made with Anika Denise who is a children's author and weekly contributor to a local Newspaper. She holds a weekly storytime at a local bookshop and she graciously invited us to be a guest for the week when we were in town.
About 2 weeks before we left for the east coast, we had 7 events scheduled. Our calendar was posted on our website and Facebook plus we sent out over 60 Press Releases, several who picked up our events for their event calendars.
The rough copy of the book was available a week before the trip and after some final editing, the first 20 soft cover books were produced. Premier Graphics continued the printing and shipped the books to the east coast for us. Thankfully, they arrived the day before the first book reading!
Our journey over those few months was busy, hectic and sometimes stressful. Our "to do" list was long and this is certainly simplifying the steps. There were a few nights where we didn't get to sleep very much at all. By having a deadline, it pushed us to stay focused, getting everything done quickly so we could move on to the next thing that needed to get done.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

2 months, 11 days since our debut date of "The Bay Gull"

Thank you to everyone who has supported the launch of our first children's book, "The Bay Gull," which was officially released on July 1, 2009.
Since those first 7 author appearances, children's readings and book signings, over 400 copies of the book have been sold and we are currently working with 15 independent stores in RI plus one in AZ (we haven't had too much time to promote the book here in AZ!) We are excited for the success and know that there is much more activity to come in the near future so check back to hear about everything going on.
Many people have approached us about writing children's books and wanting to be published. One of our greatest joys is to share with others our road in hopes that it helps motivate and/or inspire someone else to follow a dream. This has truly been a team effort between myself and my wife. Combined, we are able to bring the artistic/creative elements together with business tools needed to take an idea, make a product and promote it. We are both complete novices in the realm of publishing and we have no idea whether we would be considered a failure or success in the world of children's book publishing. We have hit some of our goals, missed others and have a long road ahead of us if the cash flow from the book ever goes beyond enough to reinvest. Our paychecks so far have been for the heart and we continue to put in lots of hours to promote the book knowing that as soon as "The Bay Gull" is making money, our business will be investing in our next project!
If you don't know the story about the idea behind the book, check it out on our website, We also have lots of great information on our group page TINK INK Publishing on Facebook so please become a Fan!!
We'll be blogging about our journey and would love to take you along for the ride so feel free to join us as a member on the site, subscribe, comment and all that fun stuff!
Emerson & Mona