Voyage to the Star Kingdom FAQS (And Answers!)

If you missed the announcement about my children’s picture book, go here and find out all the details!

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As the release date for Voyage to the Star Kingdom approaches, I thought it might be helpful to answer some of the FAQs I’ve gotten about the book.

(How’s that for a to-the-point introduction?)

These are GREAT questions, by the way, and I’m glad they’re being asked because it forces me to actually have answers, which means I have to know what I’m doing. And that is not my natural tendency, you know. I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants. But this project deserves more than just pants-flying, so here are my answers to the questions you ask most frequently!

Voyage Illustration 1

Q: What is the official release date?

A: Tuesday, January 12.

Q: Where can I buy it?

A: It will be available on Amazon.

Q: Can I pre-order it now?

A: No, and I hate that pre-orders aren’t possible. We’re self-publishing through CreateSpace, which is a division (or something) of Amazon, and they don’t support pre-orders for self-published books unless it’s an e-book, which this one is not. I’ve heard rumors of twisty, complicated ways you can get around this, but honestly, it all seems really confusing and I think maybe it could all go wrong quickly, so I’m not going to go there.

Q: Will it be hardback or paperback?

A: For now, it will only be available in paperback. I would love to see it in hardback someday, but right now, it’s not possible.

Q: But why?! (This also goes with the question: How did you decide which self-publisher to use?)

A: There are three self-publishing companies that I would ever consider using. After doing a large and overwhelming amount of research on all three, I found that two of them offer hardback options and one does not. Initially, I wanted to go with one of the hardback-offering companies, but then I found LOTS of alarming things about them online: they don’t pay their authors on time or, sometimes, ever; their customer service is extraordinarily difficult to get ahold of (some authors had been waiting 10-11 months to have publishing issues resolved and actually hadn’t been able to publish their books because of it); many people who have published with them are either threatening to take them to court or actually are taking them to court.

So, that was a no-go.

The other hardback-offering publisher would list with Amazon… eventually. They claimed a 6-8 week waiting period for listing on Amazon’s website, but I found lots of authors claiming it was more like 10-12 weeks, and sometimes it never happened at all. Also, this company charged a listing fee for the book–and it was high, y’all.

Nope.

The third company was CreateSpace, who I’ve worked with before (that’s who I use to publish Shadows now that it’s not with Compass Press anymore). They don’t offer a hardback option, but once you upload your approved, final manuscript file to their site, your book is live on Amazon within a matter of hours. Their website has a button you can push that says “Call me!” and a customer service rep will call you literally within 60 seconds. (I’ve done this before. It’s true.) They distribute through Amazon, they pay out on time, and it’s all very fluid and easy. There is no listing fee and no costs to me at all, except that I do have to pay a little bit for any books I order (which is standard). But again: no hardback option.

I decided to go with the one that likely wouldn’t end up with a lawsuit, which meant publishing through CreateSpace, even though it meant forgoing the hardback binding for the time being. Maybe I can do a special edition print run of hardbacks someday.

Q: Why is it so important to distribute through Amazon?

A: Distributing through Amazon means that anyone can get the book quickly and easily. It also means they handle all the shipping, which I could never handle on my own. And if enough people buy the book on release day or during that first week, the book could climb Amazon’s ranking system pretty quickly, which would result in a HUGE amount of exposure (can you imagine if it hit #1 in children’s books, even just for a couple of hours? That’s more publicity than I could drum up in a year!).

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the story?

A: Much of the storyline came out of Amy’s brain. (She’s the illustrator.) There was this one night where we met up to talk about the book, and I had written a page or two of something that I hoped would be a starting point. But because Amy is an artist, her level of creativity is about a hundred notches above mine, and I was hoping she could come up with the imagery that would spur on the rest of the story.

Well, of course, she did.

We started talking about unique ways to get the girls from their old home to their new home… from the village to the kingdom. Luna moths. A boat. What about butterflies? No, I think moths are better–more unexpected. Fireflies, because they are so symbolic. And a fish–an Angelfish, of course. 

The conversation went on for hours, and we basically just brainstormed all our favorite things in nature. Things that are beautiful or comforting. Things that are interesting or odd. Amy took the whole thing up into a sort of high fantasy that I doubt I ever would have gotten to on my own.

Later, during a particularly sleepless night, Amy sent me an email with many ideas that made it into the final version of the book. So most of the idea credit should go to her!

Q: What happened then?

A: Once we had the ideas more or less solidified, I wrote it all down in story-form, adding a few things here, tweaking a few things there. I had several friends read it. They had good ideas, too, and a couple of those ideas made it into the story.

I edited and edited and edited and edited. I sent it to my agent. She helped me get it down to an acceptable word count. We took it on submission. We were rejected.

And so here we are, venturing into the world of self-publishing, because I firmly believe this book should be out there.

Q: The artwork in the book is remarkable. Can I get a print or a painting of it?

A: The illustrator and I plan to auction off some of the original paintings she did for the story, but I’m not sure when or where that will be. I’m also not sure about ordering prints of the artwork. But dude, I totally get it. The illustrations are out of this world.

Q: When can we see the cover?

A: The cover reveal is set for Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Q: The illustrator is your cousin?!

A: Yes. First cousin, actually. *hair toss* Come look at her work! www.storypaintings.net

Q: What’s happening with the proceeds from this book?

A: The illustrator and I will cover any costs we incur (art supplies, ordering proof and author copies, etc.). The remainder will go to a trust fund that has been set up for the family who inspired the story.

Q: I work at a hospital / counseling center / school / church. Can I stock your book at my place of work?

A: Please do! Just order through Amazon once the book releases. I can’t give you any price hookups, unfortunately, but if you’re a Prime member, you’ll likely get free shipping.

Q: Will there be ARCs (Advance Reading Copies)?

A: Probably not. I just don’t think we have the time for it.

Q: I’m a book blogger and I’d love to review this book. Can you send me a free copy?

A: As of right now, I’m not planning to send out any free physical copies except to the family whose story inspired this book. However, it’s possible I could send you a free PDF. Email me– my email address is on the contact page.

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Any more questions? Send them my way through the contact page! Merry Christmas, Grasshoppers. Be on the lookout for the cover reveal in just eight days!

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