As some of you know this all happened pretty quickly (literally from January to mid April of 2012). One minute I’m writing a list of recommended items for the medicine cabinet for a new patient I’d just met, the next a dear, old friend is telling me her mother has just been diagnosed and they’re both in a tail spin. This upset me all the more because two other friends I grew up with were in the same boat. One lost her mother at Christmas to cancer and the other was about to. I so frustrated at that point hell bent to help. I sat down and within a few days I had written nearly a hundred pages of notes based on my recent experience. Information that would help both of them prepare for what was ahead and for as long as I can remember humor has always been my weapon against awkward and painful moments. Their response after reading it was surprising, “we laughed, we cried, we laughed while we cried…you really should publish this!”
The more I thought about it, how lost I was in the beginning, and what a difference it would’ve made if someone had handed me these notes back then, the more I believed it should happen. I’m no writer, other than my music blogs which I considered a hobby more than anything. I didn’t study journalism in college. On the contrary, after 5 years at various colleges, I never even procured a degree. I am famous in my family for not finishing projects, so imagine my surprise when they didn’t all leap to help me make the book happen. These days, if you have money, you can publish it yourself, but I was (and am still) on an extremely limited budget. After all, I’d been on medical leave since the fall of 2010, so the affordable thing to do would be to submit it to publishers around the country. Problem with that is, that route can take years before you get a bite and even then, they may not care for your content and decide to edit it to the point it no longer sounds like you. No, I wanted people to stop being afraid now, not years from now and I wanted the message delivered in a way that they’d feel we were sitting right across from eachother hanging out. Every time we’d hear the news break on another well known person dying “after a long battle with cancer”, I could feel the world’s resolve wain just a little bit more. No, in my mind, there just wasn’t time to lose.
I started researching options for self publishing. I knew about LuLu because my BFF has a book in her (waiting to bust out) and a couple years ago we did some digging on it. My sister mentioned that Amazon had a free service, so I gave them a look see. Turns out it’s not exactly free unless you have everything done and ready to print. Well, with my jumbled brain there was no chance that I could do the proofing and formatting and all the other things publishers do on my own so, I looked up the cost for the basics, added them up and then setup a campaign on Indiegogo.com to rally friends and family to help me get this thing launched. Slowly, but surely I got enough for almost everything on the list: proofread, format, kindle conversion, extended distribution, illustration, initial marketing. I was just over $600 shy of covering the startup costs. Something had to go, so I decided to do my own illustration of the book and instead of going with the $600 marketing launch, I went with a $200 version of it with another vendor that I’d heard good things about (PRWeb). They did a good job of walking me through creating an eye catching press release and if you google The C Card and Me you’ll find it got some pretty great rankings out of it, but the Illustration part was a bigger challenge. My illustrations skills were crap, but why not use mine? It was my story and I am “Imperfection at its Best”, so who better to illustrate my thoughts?
I am not an artist. I’ve never claimed to be. I’ve probably always wanted to be. However, though somewhere in my mind I would see Monet, once it made its way onto paper it would look more like…well, like:
I worked on it for several days. I know Photoshop pretty well, using it for photography and web projects over the years, but illustration is a whole different bird and as you can see I have no talent in the art of drawing. Like most things in life I just kept winging it until something viable came out of it. It wasn’t the best, but as a friend put it “I like it, it’s you”.
So, there you have it. This was the final design for the cover of The C Card and Me (the rest are in a photo gallery on The C Card and Me facebook page). Eyup. I had uploaded it to the publisher and the whole thing was going to print the following week and what did I care? I was only expecting this book to go into the hands of friends and family and their friends and family. I kept reminding myself “It’s the content that counts”. Oh how many times my mother said those very words to my plain and chubby little face.
Enter, stage left, Keen…