“Into the Woods”: chapter artwork from Tea in Pajamas.
“How’s it feel to be published?” more than a few friends have asked, and I realized I didn’t have an answer to that. I’d previously pictured myself clutching a physical copy of Tea in Pajamas dearly to my chest and experiencing extreme jubilation—but now that I’ve had time to slow down and take in the moment, I think that, more than anything else, what I feel is relief. A sort of phew, now that I’ve finally got publication out of the way!
In truth, writing and book production were the easy bits. It was the self-publishing process that was my baptism by fire. Having worked at various traditional publishers for practically all my career, it seemed almost counterintuitive to take this “radical” route of being an independent author. I often asked myself why as well.
Though I knew the ins and outs of book production, I had to learn entirely from scratch the nuts and bolts of self-publishing—as well as find the time to put in the back-breaking work while juggling a full-time job and two young children.
Far too many times I wanted to call it a day and simply shop for a traditional publisher, but then having written a book with strong French themes and continental influences, I also had my work cut out for me. You see, I happen to hail from a tiny island whose majority of readers have a distinct appetite for international bestsellers and whose few publishers have specific interests in works set within the context of Singapore or Southeast Asia. There’s also the race issue: is a born-and-bred Singapore girl the best person to write a European-ish children’s book, and in US spelling to boot?
The more I considered pandering, the less I believed in myself and my story. But Tea in Pajamas had a distinct flavor and character, and to have tailored it in any degree or manner would’ve turned the original book into whole new creature. In the end, I decided to stick to my guns.
I suppose this is where independent publishing comes in: to help authors bridge the gap between their product and readers, especially when a book doesn’t fit nicely into a publisher’s catalog or fall within a literary agent’s list of in-demand genres. Though make no mistake about it, you’ve gotta be prepared to do the work—after all, you’re not just selling your novel but you, i.e. as a person, as an author, as someone who has something to say.
I believe whether traditionally or independently published, quality of content and appearance varies between books. There is no either-or/better-worse; they are simply different—just as the world is a big enough place for both physical paperbacks and ebooks to coexist. If I’d allowed myself to be swayed by certain negative stigmas attached to being self-published, Tea in Pajamas would certainly not have seen the light of day.
Nonetheless, though self-publishing worked for me this time, I’m not saying it’s a model I want to stick to forever. When the right opportunity comes, I still do hope to someday be traditionally published. But between now and then, one thing doesn’t change: success is, for me, ultimately about getting the book into the hands of those who will enjoy the story.
And with that, I thank you, all of you, for sticking it out with me on this bumpy journey. There’ve been good days and bad, but mostly good. And 2015 by all accounts has been magical.
So on this last day of the year, thank you for being a part of the magic. With that, I’m happy to announce that Tea in Pajamas is now also officially available as an e-book via these retailers: Amazon’s Kindle store, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Blio, and Smashwords.
Have a happy new year and a joyous 2016. If you read on, I’ll write on 🙂