by Wendy Siefken
Our journey started back in 2009 when my son was still in high school. He was having trouble with school work in the form of being dyslexic and issues with cross modalities. Basically on top of all this, he hated school work. We tried for a long time to find a way to find something he was passionate about to help encourage him to do his homework and participate in school. We had an IEP or an Individual Education Plan in place that would help with the learning issues.
The one thing we found that Charlie did like to do was read books. He first discovered Christopher Paolini’s book Eragon and even though it was slow going the first time he read it, he liked it. He wanted to know more about the author and discovered that he was also a kid in school who had written a book and published it. Charlie was always coming up with story ideas for his journals at school. He would write the stories instead of the topic given.
The principal, at his wits end, finally gave him a challenge. The challenge was to write and publish a book. It had to include subjects such as language, math, history and geography. If we finished the book and it had these subjects he would get a pass/fail grade. He wouldn’t get an A or a B; he would just either pass the class or fail.
He accepted this challenge with a fire I had never seen in him before. Finally all his story ideas would become a book. We worked every day during the summer that year to get this book written. Every day he would say, “Mom, let’s work on the story!” We looked up information about caves, we had to calculate the distance made during the trip. We looked up current historical events that we could also put into the book. We did research on the different types of characters in our book. I think Charlie’s desire to learn was greater than his previous years of schooling.
Since Charlie was under the age of 18 I decided to spear head the looking into how exactly we go about getting published. I didn’t want him getting caught up by the first shiny thing dangled in front of him. We had very little funds so basically anything like vanity publishing was out. I did my research on how to get published. Back then it was still pretty much the tried and true, query an agent or submit our manuscript to a publishing company. We struck out with everyone. Then we heard about Amanda Hocking and how she published independently in our local paper! I read that article with everything we had. Charlie and I discussed the options open to us with this new information. The one thing that he really wanted was to publish a book that he could hold in his hands. I checked out each and every one of the sites on the list that Amanda mentioned in the article. I discovered that CreateSpace was a POD and Charlie could have his paperback!
During this entire time we worked together on everything. We learned who worked best in what roles. I always checked with Charlie and let him know if he ever wanted to stop writing I was all right with that. We learned that Charlie was best at being the creative one since he was always having story ideas come to him. He started keeping a note pad by his bed and took with him everywhere he went. All of this helped to improve his writing skills as well as learning issues. I took the lead on internet marketing and contacts since he was still under age. We worked together on story ideas as well as marketing ideas. There were times when we would disagree on an idea only to find out we both had the same idea just were coming at it from different viewpoints.
We decided we wanted to make all of our mistakes with the first book. The book was edited by us, friends, extended family and finally a small publishing house with a professional editor. We each enjoy our roles. Everything I write goes through Charlie first. Now that we have a greater handle on how this works we have gotten other stories lined up to be published as well.
We have learned a lot since our days of starting out and still have a lot to learn. We love this passion that seems to have chosen us. We are on this path together and will see it to the very end. Where ever that may be.