In this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following blog is from Debra Irene, author of “Helen’s Heritage: Life Stories of Helen Herbert Gillham.” You can learn more about Debra by visiting her website, Facebook, and Twitter. To begin your self-publishing journey, get a free WestBow Press publishing guide today!
It Began with a Contest
In September of 2010, I traveled to Franklin, Tennessee, from Kansas City for a writers’ seminar and walked into a room full of extroverts and upbeat people who wanted to live their dreams. My goodness, all I wanted to do was figure out how to finish a little book. Mostly, I just listened to everyone else and the outstanding speakers.
I learned I needed to start a blog (something I told Brenda I would never do). I didn’t have time to print and publish my own book like some planned to do, I barely had time to write it! Also, I knew that I could wait forever for a traditional publisher. Lucky for me, an executive from Thomas Nelson spoke at the convention and mentioned that their new self-publishing division had teamed with Women of Faith for a writing contest where the winner would receive a free publishing package. That sparked my interest and I felt was the meant-to-be part of the program for me.
Realizing a Dream
I returned home to Kansas City, wrote my first blog (with Brenda’s encouragement), and contemplated how I was going to finish my manuscript by the contest deadline – just three months away. Brenda pointed out that my book was the style that didn’t have a specific ending and that I should stop writing when I reached the minimum number of words (10,000). I could write a sequel later. What a tremendous piece of advice that was. After all, I wasn’t writing a novel. So that December, I took a week’s vacation from my career job and devoted nine hours each day to reaching 10,000 words. I continued to work my supplemental night job; and by December 31, I was ready to push the button for the contest.
An Unexpected Prize
Although I did not win the contest; I did receive a discount on a publishing package with WestBow Press for entering the contest and was able to purchase that package with an unexpected bonus in January. I watched the dream unfold, month by month, just like Brenda encouraged; and in April of 2011, I held my first copy of Reflections.
This was a very big deal to me, my own personal miracle. My mind was flooded with other book ideas. But the idea that took front and center was a project for my mother. She wanted to tell her life story and had no idea what to do. She didn’t have a concept, or a format in mind. Neither did I at first, but we started writing it down little by little. Meanwhile, I kept blogging: telling my own stories. Around that time, a few of my stories were published by Farm & Ranch Living, Country, and The Missouri Golf Post.
Five Years Later
I continued with my career job but dreamed that someday writing could be my career. Five years later, I held my second book published by WestBow Press, Helen’s Heritage: my mother’s story, her dream. This was a project very near and dear to me. Not only is it my mother’s life story; but it is a family documentation, a forty-thousand-word family history filled with short stories and vignettes. The book merges in seventy-five narratives from about 1880 through today. In addition to this latest work, I have enough blog material for another book when I am ready to compile it.
Someday, I will retire from my day job, but I can’t imagine ever retiring from my dream of writing. There are more stories to tell and more projects to complete. A dream, a miracle, and a Brenda in my life – those were the keys!
– WBP –
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation, and length.