Librarian super powers

I’m starting to use my librarian super powers and I’m not even a librarian.

There is a little girl who I taught to read last year. She is a lovely Hispanic girl, and her Mom brings her into the library weekly. I was blessed to be there the moment she “got” reading. She put her sounds together and her letters together and was able to read an unfamiliar word. She lit up. I gave her another word, and another. She nailed each one.

There is a problem now, a year later. Now she is getting only DVDs. I noticed this a few weeks ago and I said to her – “Get books. No more DVDs”. It didn’t work. I saw her last week getting the maximum number of DVDs – 10, and no books. She was standing on a step stool, looking through all the movies. She was at my height at this point.

I looked straight at her and said “Don’t let me think that I wasted my time teaching you how to read and all you are getting is DVDs. Go get books.” I pointed towards the books and away from the DVDs. She looked a little freaked out.

I’ll see how this plays out. If it comes to it I’ll have to learn how to say in Spanish to her Mom that she must get books. Mom doesn’t speak English at all. Her children have to do all the talking for her when they are out because they learned English in public school.

Part of the problem is that this girl is used to having her way. She is very cute and very pigheaded. I can tell she has her parents wrapped around her finger. Perhaps Mom and Dad understand the value of a good education, but they don’t quite get how important it is for parents to get involved in that education.

In order to be an actual librarian you have to have a Master’s degree in Library Science. I don’t. I just work in a library. I have a Bachelor’s in English. But everybody thinks that because I work in a library, I’m a librarian.

Working in a library is a lot like working retail, but with better public opinion. People think we are like teachers. They grant us more respect than in retail work. We are somewhat authority figures. I’m not sure why, but I’m using it anyway. As long as I use my powers for good, why not?

On being a “real” author.

I’m looking at publishing some of my blog in book form. This has lead to a lot of questions. Do I self publish? If so, who with? How much do I want to do on my own? Do I try to find a “real” publisher? And perhaps more importantly, what do I hope to gain from publishing my words in book form?

They are already out in the world. They have already been seen. They are available all the time to anyone who has access to the internet.

In part I want to provide an experience. I want to provide an order and a flow to it. I wrote my pieces at different times and with different topics. And not everything is that great.

In part I had to write some of the “meh” pieces to get to the “ah ha” pieces. I’m reminded of the idea that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. So you have to write a lot of posts before you find your focus.

In a way I want to provide an appetizer, then a four course meal, then the dessert. I want the posts to lead from one to another in a logical way. I want them to be grouped together in a logical way too. There is an order of sorts with the blog because of tags and of categories, but there is nothing saying that people will go from one to another in order. That is a strength and a weakness to a blog.

Right now what I have written is more like an uncompleted jigsaw puzzle. That was helpful to me at the beginning. I allowed myself to write whatever I wanted and in whatever order. This meant that I didn’t have any rules. Sometimes rules help and sometimes they hinder. I felt that if I told myself I could only write about one topic at a time then I’d miss some posts that would be valuable. In a way it is like drawing without any lines. You have to do whatever works to get the work done.

Recently I was talking with a guy with a company that is a division of Thomas Nelson. That company’s name would be in my book, but it would still be mine and I would pay for it. It wouldn’t be cheap. The starting price is one thousand dollars.

Cough.

Now, that amount of money isn’t just for their name. They would do the formatting. They would create the cover. They would professionally print it. They would proofread and edit it. Basically all I’d have to do is write it, and really, that is already done.

Now, it would have to fit in their strict guidelines. They are a Christian company. They don’t allow slander, cursing, or plagiarism in their books. You also have to actually state that you, the author, are Christian.

In a way they would legally protect me too. They would make sure that nothing in it could come back to haunt me.

But a thousand dollars is a lot of money. I’d get just ten copies for that. I’d have to pay for more copies.

The representative was trying to rush me, to get me to commit to them. He wanted me to hand over money before he even looked at my work.

I told him that I know his job is to get the little fishes into the basket. He laughed. He couldn’t say anything to that because “The call will be recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

I was being kind. His job is to hook them, to reel them in.

I said I’ll think about it. I haven’t dismissed that avenue. That name is a respected one in the book world. They have high standards. Their books are good inside and out. If I went with them, that would make my work look even better and give it a level of authority.

He mentioned something that publishing your own book is like starting an independent business. If you are going to open a coffeeshop, do you go and do your own thing, or do you go with a known brand? Do you have a small Mom and Pop shop or do you lease a Starbucks? He said that people gravitate towards the already known and already tried. Also, if you go with the known brand they’ve worked out a lot of the kinks for you.

But, a lot of people I know trust the individual shop more. They like the quirks and charm of a one-off. They’d rather support an independent over a chain any day. They know that more time and attention goes into the independent shop. They care, because they have to.

What I need to do now is to separate the wheat from the chaff. I need to focus in on one topic or a related group of topics and put them all together. I’d need to do this for any publisher – whether it is “real” or self-published. I already have a good idea of what posts the most useful or helpful that I’d like to use.

There is nothing stopping me from trying with CreateSpace. It is the self-publishing division of Amazon and is totally free. I’d have to do most of the work. The reviews are good. I have friends who have used them and they like them very much. But you get what you pay for.

The marketing is the same with both companies. There is none. I’d have to do it all on my own.

And, as people are pointing out, actual brick and mortar book stores are disappearing. So why am I worried about the idea of how am I going to get my book on the shelves and into the hands of readers?

I certainly don’t just want to just sell to my friends. That is a very limited pool. I want a wide audience. I knew someone who got in on a pyramid scheme of selling supplements. The pyramid collapsed on him because he was only able to market to his family and friends. He ended up having to buy a lot of the product himself. That is insane.

I am bold enough to say that I think that some of the things I have written are revolutionary, and helpful, and needed. I am bold enough to say that I think everybody should read what I have to say, especially Christians. They will be the most challenged by it, and they will give me the most flak.

Boldness is part of writing. Just writing, even if it is just for yourself, is claiming your voice. It is saying that what you think matters and needs to take up space in the world. To post it for your friends to read is another step. To post it so strangers can read it is a further one.

I feel like I am just getting braver and braver with each step.

Where am I headed?

Further away, or closer towards? I think that perhaps it is a little of both.