Farmer Bear’s Garden is now available for sale! It was the culmination of a very long process, and the last few weeks were the hardest because I knew it was so close, but I couldn’t quite get it over the goal line.
Once the book designer’s work is complete, you have PDF files of your book, but the next step is to upload them to the print-on-demand publishing platforms. I’m using Amazon.com for my paperback and eBook and IngramSpark for hardcover and a different paperback. You need two versions of the paperback because most stores will not sell anything printed by Amazon and libraries won’t carry them, so if you ever want to sell or display your book anywhere else, you need another option.
I uploaded my file to Amazon on Feb. 29, and by March 1 it was live and ready to order. I learned later I was supposed to first request a proof, but I missed that step. I’ve never done this before and I had assumed it would not immediately go live but would instead await me giving a final OK. But no, there it was, visible to the world. The problem here is I wasn’t ready — I hadn’t seen a physical copy yet, and I wanted to make sure it was right. The last thing I want is to tell everyone I know to go out and buy a copy and then learn it has a big problem.
Amazon lets you order author copies, which you just have to pay the printing cost and shipping for, but for whatever reason they’re in no hurry to get these to you. So while I ordered author copies on March 2, it was showing me March 11-13 as the estimated dates of delivery. This was driving me crazy, as the book was live, I have people waiting for it, and I really wanted to see it!
Someone suggested I might get it faster if I ordered a copy as if I were a customer. I thought it was worth a shot. On March 5 I signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime and ordered it, and it said it would arrive on Saturday, March 7.
Saturday finally rolls around and I’m eagerly anticipating this delivery. All morning I keep checking the door, but nothing. Then right after lunch I hear someone leaving a package at the door. I go and check, see that it’s from Amazon … and it’s addressed to my wife. What a letdown.
So I go to the grocery store and do the shopping, come back home and do some chores. Later we’re just leaving to walk to the park when we see an Amazon van coming down the street. Surely that’s it, right? But no, it stops a few houses down, then turns around and leaves. I can’t believe it! Amazon is killing me.
We go to the park, come back, make dinner, eat, still nothing. I can’t believe it’s taking this long. Finally, at 6:40 p.m., probably the latest Amazon package I’ve ever received arrives. This is it.
I took the book upstairs to look it over in private. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. No printing issues; everything was just where it should be. It was such a neat feeling to have it in my hands finally.
Speaking of neat feelings, now it was time to read it to my 3-year-old son. He saw it and right away wanted to read it. “There’s Mommy Bear!” he said. “There’s me! There’s Daddy!” Of all the books we’ve read together he’s never identified with any of the characters like that, so I don’t know why he did with this one. (I’d never told him I was writing a book. Yes, the characters are loosely inspired by us, but at this point he doesn’t know that I wrote this book).
I tend to get emotional at times like this and I thought I’d be crying as I read to him, but I was able to keep it together. I loved when he’d point out the little details my illustrator and I had worked in, or when he’d ask questions or make comments. (“Daddy, what are they growing? Look, he’s digging up potatoes!”) Yes, I wrote the book to share with the world, but he was my No. 1 audience. As soon as we finished he said to read it again, which I’d been hoping for. When we were done the second time I told him that Daddy wrote this book, which as a typical 3-year-old he didn’t seem that impressed by. (We showed him where Daddy’s name was on the cover and he wanted to know where his name was).
After that he went off to do other things, but two more times that night he picked it up and started looking through it and then asked me to read it. No matter how my sales go, I’ll always have these moments.