“What Now!” by Chrissie Betlach Vinje

Balboa Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. These are the words of Chrissie Betlach Vinje, author of  What Now! A Pivotal Story of Love, Family, and the Miracle of People. Download the Balboa Press free publishing guide to receive more information on self-publishing your book with Balboa Press. 

My book “What Now!” is a true story about my husband, Tom’s, brain cancer and the effect it had on us, our family and friends.  It is based on my journal entries and the guestbook entries from CaringBridge, a website that allows people to update loved ones on life events.  I wrote on the website during Tom’s illness and after his death, documenting life as it happened.  After creating chapters from my entries, I completed the story from beginning to end.

My inspiration to put our story out there came shortly after Tom’s passing.  There were three people who mentioned it would make a great book.  The thought had never occurred to me.  During this time I also received an email from a former co-worker of Tom’s.  She stated that she was in a twenty year marriage and had let her appreciation for her husband, Wane.  She went on to say that due to my love, dedication and strength for Tom and my marriage, she decided to rededicate herself to her husband and their marriage.  She then told me they had never been happier.  That sealed the deal for me and I knew at some point, I would be writing this book.  It took me about three years to get to a point where I could begin the process, however, as I needed to get further away from my grief so I could come back and tap into it.

sku-000986729During the process of self-publishing, the five things I’ve learned include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. It is a journey unto itself. My first journey was living it.  The second journey was writing about it.  The third journey was publishing it for everyone to read.  There were so many steps involved in the process that I hadn’t anticipated.
  2. I learned a lot about legalities and copyrights of other people’s writings. In my case, due to including the guestbook entries of others, I had to get permission from each person whose entry I used.  For this reason, I was not able to include all of the entries from the CaringBridge as there were contributors I was not able to contact.  There were also prayers, poems and quotes that others used in their writings.  Due to copyright infringements there were some entries I had to modify by just mentioning the title of a particular writing and some I had to delete all together.
  3. I found that self-publishing gives you more control to include certain items that might not be allowed through traditional publishing. It really feels like it is your project and you can present it how you see fit.
  4. It is both rewarding and a little nerve wracking being a part of the creative process. I am not talking about the writing itself, but rather the layout and covers of the book.  I had a vision in my head of the cover I wanted, but I knew it was missing one thing that would tie it all together.  I told the editing department what I was looking for and when I got the proof back, I was ecstatic! They had found the perfect image to tie it all together.  It was sheer brilliance in my opinion.
  5. Lastly, I was told that professional editing is of utmost importance and is the first tool in marketing. After implementing the changes the editor sent me and seeing a more polished product, I couldn’t agree more.

The thing I love most about self-publishing is the guidance I received every step of the way.  This was my first book and first experience into the publishing world.  The people I have worked with have all been extremely helpful and supportive.  It made the experience that much better and I would absolutely recommend it to other authors.

Up to this point, my favorite social media outlet for marketing and promotions has been Facebook.  I created a Facebook page for the book as soon as it was submitted and I posted updates during the publishing process as they happened.  It was fun and kept my Facebook followers a part of the process.

If I had any advice to aspiring authors, it would be to follow your vision and don’t waver.  I had a specific purpose and vision in mind when I wrote my book and knew it had to be authentic.  It had to be as it really happened.  I was open to suggestion during the editing process, as far as grammatical issues and expanding on some of the ideas I presented in the “non-CaringBridge” portion of the book.  I could see their point and expounded on more of what I had originally written.  I am grateful for those suggestions.

In the end, I couldn’t be more proud and happy with the finished product and I am one hundred percent pleased with my self-publishing experience.

Balboa Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BalboaPress, by tweeting us @BalboaPress, or by emailing blog@balboapress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. Balboa Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space. 

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