This is My Story Part III: And now we are here.

We’ve reached the final, third part of the series, This is My Story. Whew. Made it, and even still have a few people “following” my blog. Shout out to my family and my BFFs who are probably just re-visiting the blog over and over from multiple devices in order to get my page views up. ;-)

My last blog post discussed the inspiration behind My Favorite Job is You. This week, I’d like to talk about how it went from a poem on the back of an envelope to in the middle of being published into a children’s book.

So to review the scene, it’s August 2016, and I have this piece of writing that I know I am called to do something with. Passionate to share this story with others, I prayed persistently for God’s will, God’s timing and God’s way. I wanted this poem to glorify God, as He was the one to put it on my heart.

I had no idea where to start or what to do. This was an entirely new wheelhouse for me, but I was up and excited for the challenge. Most of 2016 and into 2017 was a series of connecting with fabulous, talented individuals with experience in the book industry and trying to publish the book myself versus seeking out a publisher. However, I encountered many issues along the way. I wasn’t finding the traction. I ran into quite a few dead ends and definitely had many disappointments. It just was not coming together at all. During this time, I was also working hard at my previous job, so although important to me, the book really didn’t receive that much time or attention. It was mainly me just chucking handfuls of spaghetti at the wall every once in a while to see if it would stick and stay. Let me tell you, PILES of spaghetti on the floor.

I’m very much a type-A perfectionist. I become easily stressed, easily overwhelmed, and can easily get discouraged if something isn’t going the way I’d like it to. I’m also pretty impatient. Colby’s thinking, “Tell me something I don’t know.” However, I will say, I’m also very self-aware and am constantly am trying to defeat these flaws. I think because I was praying so consistently about God’s will, timing, and way for the book, God totally shielded me from thinking these frequent, negative thoughts in regards to the book. They did not pierce me during this time. I never was stressed or overwhelmed during the time of the “book-wandering” phase. While I did get discouraged, it just really didn’t get me down. I didn’t dwell on the dead ends, and I somehow was able to think, “Well, God doesn’t want it done this way.” This way of thinking is SO not like me!! I felt so overwhelmed and stressed in other areas of my life. Even a little hopeless and helpless. But somehow, it was almost like the book was this sacred bubble that couldn’t be marred by my normal thought patterns.

However, I’ll admit: I did have one moment of weakness in July 2017. I had hit a major, disappointing, and expensive road block. Feeling very defeated, I thought I’d (figuratively) “put the book on the shelf” and just accept that this timing wasn’t right. Perhaps God wanted me to wait another year or two. I didn’t feel over it though; I just was at a total loss of what to do next. If this was God’s will, why was it going so poorly? We were coming up on a year of trying to get this book published, and I had nothing to show for it. Literally, all I had to show was that I transferred the writing from the back of the envelope to a word document. Nice.

Then in October 2017, a little over a year after I wrote the poem, the fire in my heart was urging me to take another stab at the book. At this time, God was doing incredible work in my personal and family life… like, moving mountains people. Unreal stuff. I had this amazing trust in Him that I had never experienced before, and I just knew I needed to try again. I knew God had my back and had a plan. I Googled “publishers in Minneapolis and St. Paul” and found Wise Ink Creative Publishing.

Then, the ceiling of my house opened up, a ray of light came shining down on to my computer screen, and doves flew beautifully around me and my computer. Okay, exaggerating just a little, but wow- what an answer to my prayers! Passionate about being an independent author and the self-publishing process, Wise Ink is everything I could have asked for. Wise Ink is a publishing agency that coaches and consults independent authors with the publishing process. They tell me what to do, when to do it, the best way to do it… and they have all of the connections, too. It’s basically a one-stop publishing shop for independent authors.

To back up the tracks here a second, let me try explain the difference between self-publishing, a publishing agency like Wise Ink, and using a publishing house. This is probably only going to be like, 90% accurate, so definitely do your own research if you’re thinking about publishing a book. Full disclosure!

Self-publishing is what I was trying to do in the “book wandering” phase. No clue what to do, who to connect with, what the steps were to get this done and failures along the way. With self-publishing, the author is personally in charge of every stage of the publishing process.  Not that it can’t be done, I just wasn’t very good at it ;-) And I’m not trying to discourage self-publishing, because what an outstanding accomplishment, and some people have the tools they need and the time and patience in order to get it done.

If a big publishing house picks up your book, they own the rights to the book. Because they own the rights to the book, they pay for all aspects of the book (editing, illustrations, printing, marketing, PR, Web site, etc.) – super nice! However, since they own the rights and are funding the book, as the author, you may be limited on, if not cut off from, decisions throughout the creative process and publishing process. Also, since the publishing house is in charge of marketing your book, you’re kind of at their will with how hard they push sales. It’s also very difficult to get picked up by a publishing house. Every publishing house has different deals, different purchase agreements, and different author involvement, but that’s kind of the gist of it. 

Wise Ink is an agency that allows me in a way to have a self-publishing experience, but they’re consulting me and lining me up with the appropriate people I would have otherwise not been able to connect with. They are the puzzle piece I had been missing throughout the “book wandering” phase. I get to have a voice in every aspect of the book. I have been very much involved in every stage, from editing to illustrations to book design. It was very important to me that I had a hand in the entire book’s journey to make sure it continued to glorify God’s will and share the message I want moms to hear. I am also in control of the destiny of my book as far as book sales and the book’s success, too. I am in charge of the marketing plan, the book tour, PR, the Web site, book distribution, endorsements, events, etc. That part is a little terrifying (plug – GO ORDER THE BOOK NOW!), however, I believe in the book, the topic and the story behind it.

So here we are now! We just finished up the book design stage, and we are on track to go to print on February 27th and launch right before Mother’s Day! Absolutely unreal. God is good.

I’m a late adapter (Last person I know to get an iPhone. I always like Taylor Swift’s songs three months after they’ve been released. I didn’t start online banking until 2017. Seriously.) but once I realized completely giving something to God results in His perfect will, timing and way…there’s nothing I won’t give to Him. He has taken care of me and my family, and continues to abundantly bless us time over time. While I know trials will always arise and life is not perfect, I pray I can look back to all of the times He has been faithful to me and trust He will see me through.

Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

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Ashley Flynn