I wrote a children’s poetry book (how to)

I like to use the parenthesis in my post title because whenever I’m considering clicking through on a link from Twitter or Facebook I like to know if I’m getting an article, chart, photo, video or whatever.  This is hardly a ‘how to’ but more of a summary of my experiences.

I don’t remember the exact book one of our girls had selected from the library but it was really bad.  The rhyming wasn’t very good and the plot was worse and I remember thinking that I could do better.  Fast forward to today and I think I did but it was a lot harder than I realized.

Staying home with two kids doesn’t allow me the time to do things alone and as any stay at home parent will tell you, there is an endless amount of cleaning, cooking, eating, driving, calling, and volunteering that always is at hand, so finding the time to write a book of children’s poems wasn’t simple.  I ended up getting up about two hours earlier than the kids for about the first third of the year and working on the book.  Some days I would get twelve or fifteen poems written and other days only one or two.  Other days I would proofread those twelve or fifteen and realize only one of the bunch was any good and that one morning wasn’t as productive as it seemed.

After getting 85% of the poems in a relatively (more proofing was needed but overall I like their structure) finished position I began the illustrating.  I wanted to use simple and clean lines so that the illustrations looked more like an outline rather than a polished product.  After a month of working the mornings and getting about one-third of the illustrations done I uploaded my file to the CreateSpace website ready for their glowing praises, or at least an approval.  What I got instead was a message saying that my 115DPI illustrations needed to be at least 300DPI for an 8″ by 10″ book.  I was so bummed.

The poems were a lot easier to write than the illustrations to draw and some of them had turned out at least slightly complementary to what I had written.  I looked online to see what freelance artists would cost and cost for the illustrations would have trumped the book profits by a factor of ten. More importantly though,  they also wouldn’t have been mine.  My first goal was to give something to my daughters I could say was made for them and if I hired someone to illustrate it I could have hired someone to write it as well.

After deciding to publish a unillistrated book for children – this does seem risky – I uploaded my final draft after two more proof readings and waited for my review copy.  It was at this point I told my daughters that a book was coming in the mail that I had written and we could put it on our shelf and read it whenever we wanted.  They liked this idea but they also love getting mail so I’m not sure which part of it they were so fond of.

The book arrived and while I was reading it two disappointing moments happened.  I found a misspelling of ‘cat’ as ‘car’ and this made me wonder how many other things I missed because I had been looking at it every morning for four months.  Secondly, and more damaging, the kids didn’t like it.  My own kids!  This moment was when the idea of writing being a very personal thing hit home.  This book was an encapsulation of the best I could do and my own kids didn’t like it.

At this point I was ready to give up.  I had a review copy with the dedication to my daughters on the first page and that’s really what I wanted from this project, something I could I say was written with them in mind.  But I didn’t.  After letting it sit for a week without much thought I opened the file again, gave it a thorough proofing – but there’s probably still something I missed – and submitted it as a final draft, again.

This draft looked a little sharper with the spacing and lack of typos so I began the cover creation process.  If you click-through to the book you’ll see about the fourth or fifth design I made.  This was fairly enjoyable but if you’re considering doing this I would probably recommend spending some money to make the cover look nicer.  CreateSpace has some templates built into their website but it’s all very cheap looking.

I’m glad I submitted it and it’s on sale but I’m afraid of the reviews.  I’m gonna be in a brief funk with the first one star review I get but then, maybe that person will think they can do better and write one of their own.


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