Book from a cat's point of view!

by Carole Stevens Bibisi
(Bradenton, Florida)

Cover of

Cover of

I have written & illustrated a series about a black cat named Miss American Bronte.

After spending lots of energy & time writing & illustrating this series I spent lots more time looking for an agent.

I found one, but after 2 years of them sending my manuscripts around to traditional publishers & receiving numerous impersonal rejection letters, I decided to kick start the series by self-publishing the introductory book, "Tails" of American Bronte, a rescue cat's view of adoption.

I attend writers conferences where I meet & network with other writers & illustrators in the same situation. I can recommend this as a very positive thing to do.

PNWA: Pacific Northwest Writers Association
FWI: Florida Writers Association
SCBWI Society of Childrens Book Writers & Illustrators

These are the writers conferences I have been involved with. Find one near you & become an active member.

It was through one of these conferences I met the man who operated the small publishing house I decided to go with.

I had been looking online for some time at many self-publishing options.

When this person liked the book & said he would like to publish it, we met to discuss the options further. I looked at the quality of other books he had published.

I also checked out a local publishing company to see what they had to offer.

I decided to go with the first publisher, & we worked out a good price deal together. He then sent a very simple contract.

I urge everyone to take the contract to a literary lawyer to check it over!

No matter what price is agreed on, you can count on it adding up to a lot more. There are many associated costs to take into account!

I sent the scans of the original art (which included the hand printed lettering which was incorporated in the illustration) to the publisher's art director.

He worked with me closely (phone & email) with the utmost patience to bring the color as nearly as possible to the original depth. He was a key person in the book's development & final brilliance.

We did a small print of 2,700 books & when I received the first copies I was thrilled at the glossy hard cover & pages, excellent binding & the overall look of it.

With hindsight now I feel we would easily have been able to get as good a job from the local printer here that we almost went with, without the extra costs & time involved trying to do it all from Florida to Seattle, or from printing offshore, where you incur the extra costs of customs & shipping.

Go local if you can.

After first securing the services of a distributor (large book store chains only work through distributors), I am having good success with the book & am enjoying book signings & book tours.

I also signed on with a fulfillment house for orders from my website, etc. I have to pay both these organizations & ship them boxes of books.

I love working one on one with the independent book stores. They mostly work a 60/40 deal, whereas the large bookstores take 55%.

I couldn't have done all this & known what to do without my author/friend Jill, who was already published with a traditional publishing house.

Many thanks, Jill, for your amazing help & for taking me to all those writers conferences!!

Because I write & illustrate, & traditional publishers like to use their OWN illustrators, I would self-publish again to be able to have complete creative control of my work.

(But, as I said, I'd check out the local printers, & get any contracts viewed first by a publishing lawyer before signing. It's well worth the extra cost.)

I'm currently seeking a publishing house to publish the rest of the series, consisting of a Bronte alphabet, calendar & greeting cards.

You can have excellent results with self-publishing when you know what to expect & how to get the best results.

Carole Stevens Bibisi

Self published, printing by Peanut Butter Publishing, Seattle, WA

Visit Carole and her cats.

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Mar 07, 2008
Beautiful work, Carole
by: Steve B.

I love the stained glass influence.

Thanks for sharing your thought process and, in particular, everything you gained from networking.

I hear you say you're pleased as punch with the printing job, yet you feel it could have been done just as well locally.

Well, judging from all the printing complaints I hear, I'd hesitate to switch from something that worked so well!

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