One Journey Ends and Another Begins

Aarne Kovala Aged 17 1945Spring has finally arrived, although it is difficult to tell as a layer of fine icing sugar snow fills the air and clusters on the deck outside my patio doors.  It has been a whirlwind of a week now that my book is finally published. Appropriately, I think, the official publication date was on the last day of winter.  I started self-publishing at the beginning of December and what a journey it has been!  Like waiting for spring, it took several weeks longer and was more blustery than I initially anticipated.  What I thought would take eight to ten weeks ended up being sixteen weeks from the initial conversation with a consultant to the day I pressed the approval button for the final draft.

When I initially made the decision to self-publish, I had a lengthy conversation with an advisor who explained the whole process and provided me with many options. Soon after, I worked with an enthusiastic designer for the cover who immediately had great ideas and listened carefully to my suggestions. The whole family anticipated the release of the options, and while the first was lovely, we all loved the second choice. And that was it. I had a cover.

Working on the interior layout was enjoyable, but since I had no experience I relied mostly on my instinct and the advice of the specialist. From choosing the font to the fleurons, the page headers and the chapter headings, I was able to select every detail. It wasn’t until I was sent a printed draft that I really appreciated how all of the elements worked together.

By now, deep into the cold winter months, and the snow piled high on my deck outside, I felt that I was perfectly on track in terms of time.  While a team worked on the interior formatting, an editor was reviewing the whole text.  I was thrilled with her positive comments about the book and valued her suggestions. For anyone contemplating this process, I highly recommend hiring an editor.  Their purpose is to make your work better. As I have with everyone over the past three years, I learned much about my own writing from her comments.

Winter crept cautiously toward the promise of spring.  While the days gradually lengthened, the self-publishing process slowed as I headed closer to the end. The first proof arrived with a plain white cover and provided me with an opportunity to make textual changes, eliminate typos, and consider formatting issues or any other problem that arose in the conversion of the text from a .doc file to the required layout file. Inevitably, I found errors.  I submitted the appropriate changes and waited anxiously for another proof to arrive, just as I anticipated the eventual melting of the snow on my deck.  When I received the second proof, I fine-tooth combed it again and enlisted the help of other readers.  Again, we found errors.

The next proof arrived with the cover.  It was a thrilling moment.  My book really looked like a book! With several fresh eyes on the page, I was confident we eliminated (almost) all of the errors. I got another proof copy, but this time I’d received a great review from Kirkus Reviews and wanted to add a quotation on the back cover.  The review felt like a stamp of approval. Finally, the book was done.

On the last day of winter, more than three years after interviewing my father and four months after starting the self-publishing process, I pressed approve on my keyboard.  With a sigh of relief, I closed my laptop and revelled in the warm sunlight streaming into my room.  After these many months, winter is finally done and so is my book. Spring has arrived.

While my journey to self-publish is complete, a new path opens before me.  My father’s story is an extraordinary one and I’m so privileged that he shared it with me. As the days get longer, the sun beams brighter and the snow drifts get smaller, I’m pleased to embark on a new journey, this time to share my father’s story with others.