We have a first for the Polished Paragraph: a guest blogger. Please welcome author Connie Dunn who’s written a book for parents and children investigating gender identity. Here she guides us through the journey she took to bring her book from idea into print. Take it away, Connie…
When Panda Was a Boy: a Collection of Stories on Gender Identity for K-8 began in my heart about 15 ago, when I met a group of gay, lesbian, trans (transgender, transsexual, and gender neutral), and questioning (GLBTQ) youth, who had all been thrown out of their families. My heart hurt down to my soul for this beautiful, diverse group of teens rejected by their parents, the people who should be there with you no matter what!
It took a few more years and much research to begin writing these stories. I’d write one here and one there. I went through an assortment of illustrators who, for a variety of reasons not related to content, did not follow through. Eventually, I took this as a sign that I was supposed to illustrate this book myself. I chose to create one quilt for each of the 10 stories in the book.
After about eight months of creating the quilts in my spare time, I had them photographed by a professional photographer, Andy Heller of Heller Photography. The photos were high quality digital that allowed me to cut pieces out of the quilts to sprinkle through the corresponding story.
Naturally, editing, beta readers, rewrites, revisions, and more editing followed. Finally, my book was ready to publish. Since I am an Independent (Indie) Publisher, I was able to electronically complete all steps necessary for publishing using an on-demand printer. Indie publishing is not done through a major publishing company like Prentice Hall or Scholastic. These publishers take fewer books each year, their advances are shrinking, and they do little marketing. Therefore, indie publishing can be a good choice for many authors.
I was excited to receive a box of books the day before I headed to a conference where I planned to debut the book. It was time for the last step: marketing. Book marketing has changed in the last couple of decades. There are: fewer big box booksellers; more, small, independent book stores; and the biggest virtual bookseller, Amazon.com, which has affected the approach to book marketing.
The point of marketing your book is to get it in front of potential readers. Since most of us are connected through the Internet, doing a virtual book tour takes precedence over the old-fashioned, cross-country book tour during which you give readings and signings at every book store you could manage.
Today, virtual travel allows you to travel the world without actually leaving the comfort of your home. This blog is one of my stops. I will also visit Australia and California, so you can see how easy it is to travel in the 21st century!
But deciding to do a virtual tour isn’t the end of it. You have to find blogs and platforms appropriate to your subject matter. For instance, the topic of my book is a bit controversial; not everyone wants to discuss gender. And only certain blogs will have an audience that includes parents with young children exploring gender.
Certainly, all kids investigate gender as a natural part of their self-discovery. I also believe that parents should be proactive in teaching diversity. However, when reaching out to potential readers and book buyers, you must narrow down your audience. “All parents” is much too general. Parents with children (K-8) who are exploring GLBTQ issues and gender identity are the exact audience who not only want my book, but need it!
Once you’ve determined your audience, you must find and connect with them. Google Alerts allows one to locate blogs that target your readers. In my case, I used three keywords to search: parents, GLBTQ, and parents of GLBTQ children. In addition, consider contacting friends, colleagues, and other writers you know, especially those who already have blogs or other online platforms. Many, like my friend Laura Salamy at the Polished Paragraph, will be happy to have you write a guest blog.
Your article should be geared toward the blog in which you are appearing. For example, Laura’s blog is about writing, so my guest post is about my journey with this book. Note that I was able to talk about my book within the parameters of talking about “the journey.”
Connie Dunn is an author, speaker, and book writing coach. Her book, When Panda Was a Boy: A Collection of Stories on Gender Identity for K-8, is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com. Connie also teaches people to write and publish their books. You can find other information about her, her books, and courses at PublishWithConnie.com. To receive a FREE Parent’s Guide: 10 Tips for Parents on Talking about Gender Identity to Your Children, sign up at http://whenpandawasaboy.publishwithconnie.com/.