Never Too Young to Publish

by Miles and William Rabun
(Wake Forest, NC)

My Grandma's Backyard

My Grandma's Backyard

Neither too young to write nor too young to publish!

Miles Rabun and William Rabun, the 9 and 7-year-old young authors of the children's picture book, My Grandma's Backyard, are two young brothers who took their fate into their own hands to publish a remarkable book that was only the beginning of a rewarding experience.

How it All Started

Miles and William's maternal grandmother challenged the prodigious students, when they were 7 and 5, to write a book, after learning of their good school grades in reading and writing.

Since the brothers wanted to write about the fun times they have with their grandmother, My Grandma's Backyard explores the many favorite things that William and Miles enjoy doing in there - like skipping rocks, identifying plants, reciting poems, or making up skits.

This fun-filled tale reflects the authors' real adventures during summers with their grandmother, who is a natural-born lover of the great outdoors.

The Experience of Publishing as Children

Publishing My Grandma's Backyard with Xlibris Corporation was a great learning experience for the brothers, since they were involved first hand in the process of reviewing and editing galleys, managing the layout of the book, and approving the final version. Xlibris also offered straightforward and easy to understand materials for the boys.

The biggest selling point was affordability. Miles and William used their own monies, earned from other entrepreneurial efforts, to pay for the book. The boys were thrilled about the prospect of controlling their work from beginning to end.

If mistakes were found in galleys, it cost the young authors time and money; this proved to be a great lesson and reinforced the importance of paying close attention to details and making wise choices.

Promoting My Grandma's Backyard

For any self-publishing effort, it is important to have a plan and timeline not only for writing your book but also for publishing. Marketing and Distribution plans for self-publishing are as important as the writing and publishing.

Miles and William were strongly encouraged to focus their time and money on specific marketing/distribution efforts, like a a good press release, a website and business cards. The brothers also worked with their parents on the best venues (like local bookstores/fun places for kids/magazines kids read) to help promote the sale of the book. The children's instinct proved to be quite invaluable.

Too young to publish? I don't think so!

My Grandma's Backyard has had an overwhelming response from teachers, librarians, students, parents, grandparents and young readers. Shortly after publication, Miles and William received proclamations from the cities of Raleigh, NC, Atlanta, GA, and East Point, GA, naming a Young Authors' Day on their behalf!

The book also received favorable reviews from parent magazines and is now on several public library shelves.

Miles and William have also successfully promoted My Grandma's Backyard with large and independent booksellers, partnered with literacy groups to promote reading (and writing) and have participated in several public reading and writing programs. The young authors travel throughout the United States and most recently traveled internationally to the British West Indies to promote the book as part of a full program designed to educate and elevate young readers and writers.

Miles and William's entertaining presentation actively promote an appreciation for nature and fun in an outdoor setting. It includes reading comprehension and rhythm in writing exercises and reinforces that kids are never too young to write!

The program includes a reading of the book, information on the publishing process, fun songs, dancing and djembe drumming. Some shows even include kid performers. More information is available at the website.

In the end, it is very important to start early on your marketing efforts and maintain a weekly contact and follow-up agenda. Miles and William not only had the benefit of planned marketing efforts, but many new contacts came as a result of a word of mouth campaign that had a life of its own.

It is also very important to identify a target audience for your book and understand: what they want to read, why your story is worth their attention and how they will respond to your work.

The brothers invite you to see the proof that you're never too young to publish.



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Jun 02, 2008
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In Our Own Words
by: Miles/William Rabun

It was fun and frustrating at the same time publishing My Grandma's Backyard. It was a long journey because we were used to writing short stories that took 5 minutes to finish. For this story, it took about a year to complete the whole process along with publishing.

There were many fun things about the process.

The fact that the whole family was involved was great. William: "I liked scratching out Mommy's work and making it our thoughts."

May 29, 2008
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A learning experience of the highest order
by: Steve B.

Incredible. You've convinced me that there's no such thing as "too young to publish." Give children the tools and guidance and they accomplish amazing things.

My praise always go to parents who give children the gift of books. But a grandmother who gives her grandkids the gift of writing, publishing and marketing a book...what a one of a kind learning experience! I have to imagine this has been a gift that will last them a lifetime, a story they will tell their own grandkids about. (And maybe even provide the same gift.)

Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that Miles and William had a little help with this third person post to the site, and I have a question for that helper (is that you, Grandma?).

Do you think there's any chance you could plop the boys in front of a keyboard to tap in a sentence or two for us all in their own voices about the experience. It would sure be a privilege on this end.

And thanks for the wonderful contribution...not only to the site, but to any grownups who, inspired by you, endeavors to give the same gift to the children in their lives.

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