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Ins, outs of self publishing

It might be something churning inside their creative minds for years or even decades that needs to come into the light of day and be shared with the world. My head is full of ideas and they come out in many different mediums.

It might be something churning inside their creative minds for years or even decades that needs to come into the light of day and be shared with the world.

My head is full of ideas and they come out in many different mediums. Words and images seem to be the most dominant art form I express, but it’s not always easy to share these ideas with the world.

There is a industry built of money-making ventures that involve words bound in books.

How do you get past all the noise and get your creative expression out there?

I wrote my first manuscript of poetry when I was 18.

In many ways, I did it because my teachers told me I would never be a writer. I could not spell, I never learned how to read phonetically and, because I read by sight, I sped through words at about three times the normal rate and comprehended a lot less.

I was 13 years of age and didn’t believe them. But, they also didn’t believe me when I told them soon everyone would have a computer and we wouldn’t have to worry about spelling and grammar any more.

Since then, I published three books and, these days, anyone can publish.

My first book is called Anise and the Magic Fish, which took me a year to produce.

In 1995 there were very few options for self-publishing.

I put 100 copies together by hand on a laser printer and hand-stapled them.

I sold all of them.

Then, in 2007, I went through a company called and published 500 more, again selling all of them.

I discovered publishing books was a lot easier than selling paintings.

My experience with this company and platform was very good.

You do everything online and they have programs and tutorials to help you through the process.

You can spend as much or as little as you like and come out of it with a product that is 100 per cent yours. As an artist, I liked that.

Other print on demand companies I like and use are Vista Print, Staples, All Canadian Printing and Zoom printing.

You can do everything from your laptop and they have a fast turnover. Unfortunately, their book-printing options are limited.

In 2002, I published a hardcover coffee table book called Art of the Kootenays.

This book also took me a year and I had the pleasure of working with 53 visual artists.

It was like herding a room of cats and I got scratched more than once.

The book was printed by First Choice Books in Victoria.

It took a long time to print it, with many proofs, and I ended up hiring other people to assist me in dealing with this company.

These guys do it old school, with a full staff and lots of easy going Victoria charm.

I was talked into ordering double the books I needed and still have 200 of them in storage.

They delivered a beautiful product that cost more than $10,000.

Their timing was so behind I had to drive out to Victoria and pick up the order from Castlegar.

The book was well-received, but I only broke even on that venture for a year’s work.

I decided a few years ago to create a colouring book of cats.

After I closed my art gallery, I decided the time was right.

Last summer, I decided to call First Choice books and was promised a four-week turnover, so I decided to try them again.

The process was slow and my little book kept being pushed to the side in favour of bigger projects.

The designer took it upon himself to change my cover page — my name on the cover is illegible — and there was program conversion issues for a couple of images I had no way of knowing about.

The book arrived two months late. To their credit, the company refunded me $200 but ultimately I ended up with a book that was not 100 per cent my own.

Since this experience, I have read through many blogs about authors’ push into self publication.

The self publishing industry has become a way some printing houses lure authors into the idea they are going to help publish your book for you.

This practise is misleading.

To be clear, they do not help you publish.

You pay, they print.

And, because it is done by people, not just machines, there is a lot of room for human error.

If you are dealing with a publisher that wants you to pay them for their service, run away as fast as you can.

Publishers are supposed to pay authors.

If you are an artist and want to see your work in print, I would use an online printing company and lay out the whole book using a template.

There are many programs and tutorials to help. If you want extra add-ons, like a colour cover or heavier paper, the cost is upfront.

I would order a couple hundred copies for yourself and do the rest either by e-book or print on demand.

The creative process is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.

Unfortunately, there are companies that prey on artists and their dreams and there are some that produce a bad product using old equipment and outdated printing standards.

Fortunately, there are some really good ones, too.

It all depends on the levels of productive and creative control you want to maintain.

Keep things simple and your goals realistic and you will create a lasting piece of art/literature that can be passed down through generations.

Karla Pearce recently published her third book, Kitty Cat Colouring Book, which is on sale now online at She will be doing a book reading at the Kamloops Library on Dec. 21 at 10:30 a.m.