The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker
I’ve met a lot of powerful children’s book makers over these past few years teaching The Heart of It: Creating Children’s Books that Matter. I decided from the beginning that whenever possible I would focus my Community Spotlights on folks who were making their books happen by any means necessary.
Some like Cory Silverberg and Innosanto Nagara used their self-published books as fulcrums into traditional publishing and have since released more books. Others like Janine Macbeth and S. Bear Bergman used their self-published books as catalysts to start their own independent presses and begin publishing other diverse authors and artists from their communities. And still others like Aliona Gibson and Robert Liu-Trujillo, self-published their books because they know their children needed to see kids who look like them in books and to hear stories that rise from their communities.
All of them claimed their rightful power to get things done, and done now.
And someone who repeatedly inspires me on the self-publishing front is Zetta Elliott. Not only is Zetta getting her books out there now but she’s also opening up new conversations and helping kids think new thoughts. Zetta has published over 15 books through her independent press, Rosetta Press. Her books have been recommended by Teaching for Change, highlighted on numerous blogs and inspire kids to say they want to make books too!
This is change that you can sink your teeth into right this minute.
When 2016 started I had numerous stories piling up. And I knew I couldn’t wait to get them out. I still publish books through traditional routes (I’m even illustrating a book right now) but I also understand the freedom, power and value of owning my own independent press. Something happens when you realize there is nothing stopping you.
I want to share that power and knowledge and support others to do the same. We don’t have time to wait for the publishing industry to catch up to the fact that our kids need stories that reflect them. Zetta knows this. Cory, Inno, Janine, Bear, Aliona, Robert and many, many others know this.
We can make our books now. And in so doing inspire our kids to own their own power as change agents. If we can be brave enough to do it, to put ourselves out there and tell our stories, we model for our kids that they can do it too. We can write our own stories, we can make our own art and if necessary we can publish them ourselves.
Reclaiming storytelling as necessary and vital to our survival (instead of a product only valuable if dollar signs and prestige are attached to it) is a radical act.
What if you had your book in hand by the end of this year? What doors would it open up for you?
How would it feel to hold your book in your hands and know that you did it, YOU made it happen!
How would it feel to share that book with the children in your life and in the world?
I want to read your book! I want to hear the stories that only you can tell. And I want to live in a world that values everyone’s voice. And I want it now.
I’m going to independently publish several books this year and I guarantee you Zetta and many of my friends above will too. If you’re ready to take action this year and make your book happen, here’s some helpful resources:
- Publishing Packet – a pdf packet for a Radical & Relevant Children’s Books mini-conference we held in 2012 through our independent press
- Self-Publisher’s FAQs – a great resource put together by Creative Minds Press
- Write Now! Make Books – a video series geared for kids but fun and helpful for all
- And if you’d like a support system to help guide you step-by-step through the process take a look at my Make Books Now! Action Program. We’re starting February 27th. Scholarships are available along with different options for joining in. But regardless of how or if you join in, you’re welcome to join our Facebook group for community and encouragement along the journey.