Publishing Timeline:
One Self Publisher's Story

A publishing timeline was not the only thing I learned when I decided to self publish a children's book.

Well, I thought, there can't be too much to this self-publishing thing; all you need to do is write the book and come up with the money. Writing the book was easy: fun and painless. Coming up with the money was slightly more difficult but nonetheless not such a big deal.

Then I contacted Trafford and had some information sent to me. Now it was getting a bit more rigid. You can have only a certain number of pages, you can't run your pictures across two pages, you must have a certain size border, etc.

I can do that, no problem! Well, actually it was a bit of a problem as I had to rewrite my story to fit a certain picture in the middle of the book, so I felt slightly lop sided! Now what are we going to do with the last two empty pages? OK so we worked that out....

I learned many things through self-publishing, but the most important thing was that a publishing timeline is always longer than the writer imagines.

I was invited to launch Kate's Ice Cream at the Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt, so I had a deadline. I thought there was no problem because in my mind I had it all worked out. I did not take into account the fact that the illustrator's kids would come down with chicken pox and set us back two weeks. And a trip to Ontario for a family crisis would set us back further. I was solely responsible for nearly putting the illustrator over the edge.

Once I had the data to Trafford, I waited anxiously for the proof to arrive on overnight courier only to find out that Sechelt is considered an outpost by the courier and overnight could take up to three days!

When the proofs finally did arrive, there were so many spelling mistakes (not mine) that it seemed a totally different book. A phone call to Trafford revealed that the technician had decided to type in the text as it was short, instead of using our data base. Needless to say, spellcheck was not used. Kate's name was spelled four different ways. I was totally distraught by this time; the launch was getting closer and my blood pressure was getting higher.

I wound up flying to Vancouver Island to read the next proof only to find that there was one more mistake! This time it was mine! (I before e except after c....) So now we needed another proof and the publishing timeline was running out.

Back home I came, blood pressure teetering on stroke. The call came that the books were ready and Trafford would send them by mail so there was no guarantee exactly when they would arrive. Four days to the Festival, so onto the phone I get to book another plane flight and a rental car. The cost of the first run is now more than I can sell the book for.

Finally it is the day of the Festival and I am fried. I think I have everything ready for our big ice cream party to launch Kate. I give my speech, read the book, field questions, and then announce that the ice cream cones will be served only to be told that there are no cones! I had left the cones in the back seat of my car a week ago so I would not forget them. 

Yes, I left them in the car... 


we took the truck!

All in all things went fine. More cones were bought and I made a really good contact at the festival and it was all worth it.

What did I learn? A publishing timeline is always longer than you think.

©2003, 2005 Lynne Dickson Used by permission

Audrey's Comments

First of all, let me say that Lynne's book shows the sense of rhythm that makes her a musician as well as an author.

Lynne's story is a warning to all the eager writers who live with tight publishing timelines. Always add in a margin of time to allow for unforeseen circumstances. What pleases me as a lover of excellent books is that Lynne did not cut corners even when the timeline became impossibly tight. The result shows in a truly professional book.

I'd like to help you make your book truly professional. If you need someone to look at your work and offer suggestions for improvement, contact me. I do a sample edit on 500 words so you have nothing to lose.

Many things can threaten your publishing timeline. Check the home page, where you can start a journey that will help you meet your self-publishing goals.

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