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A Roadmap to the Indie Leap—Highlights Foundation’s Self- or Indie Publishing Workshop

Guest Post by Carol Doeringer

“I would do it again in a heartbeat.” That’s what one of my fellow participants said after attending the Highlights Foundation’s Self or Indie Publishing workshop in June. And I wholeheartedly agree.

Presented by award-winning children’s book author and indie publisher Darcy Pattison, the workshop covered the nuts and bolts of independent publishing, from navigating printing, e-book, and supply-chain options to pricing and promoting a book. One writer in our group commented that some of the most helpful parts of the workshop were learning what she needs to do to reach her target market, and being introduced to a network of competent resource people.

Darcy walked us through her own successful journey to form Mims House Books, which has published 30 books to date. She shared decisions and paths she took that have worked well for her, and she also candidly shared choices that have not been productive. My goal in attending this workshop was to clarify what successful self-publishing means in terms of time, energy, and resources required. Darcy delivered that, and more.

As another attendee put it, “Darcy’s willingness to share what she has learned in her years of experience is like giving her attendees a GPS in a previously unmapped territory, and has probably short-cut our paths by years, making this course absolutely invaluable.”


Interested in publishing a children's book? Here's a report on an amazing conference. - IndieKidsBooks.com

Indie Publishing Workshop: Legal, Printing and Editing Advice

Self or Indie Publishing also featured top-notch guidance by Aimée Bisonette. Aimée is also an award-winning children’s book author, and an attorney specializing in licensing, contract negotiation, and other intellectual property law. Aimée walked us through self-publishing contract rights; collaboration agreements when working with another party, such as an illustrator; and business structure choices.

Another guest presentation was given by a printer, Nate Zaur of Spencer Printing in Honesdale, PA, who explained offset and digital printing options and processes. The combination of Darcy’s indie-publishing strategy, Aimée’s legal perspectives, and the printing overview added up to an empowering workshop.

As one attendee said, “This workshop was about much more than how to get your book in print. It was about taking control of your publishing career and turning it into your own small business. I’ve been weighing how I want to proceed in my writing life. This workshop gave me many more options to consider.”

Some of us came expecting an indie pathway less ambitious than Darcy’s no-holds-barred approach. Most of us were struck by Darcy’s dogged determination to push the indie-publishing envelope, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who left wondering if I have the personal drive to do the same. One writer observed, “She most generously taught us how to be HER. Now we have to go home and figure out how to use this information to be US.”

Inspiration for Indie Publishers of Children’s Books

In the end, I think the greatest take-away was inspiration. Some thoughts others in our group shared with me for this blog post:

“When I registered for Darcy’s Indie Publishing Workshop, I hoped to acquire enough content to feel able to confidently take the Indie leap. And I hoped for a bit of inspiration as well. Darcy’s workshop far exceeded my expectations; I have come away with so much content that my brain is about to explode. Better yet, I’ve been equally inspired to immediately start my own imprint.”

“It made me realize that the audience for my books doesn’t have to be confined to relatively rural sections of upstate New York, and I have to give that some serious thought because it never occurred to me before.”

“I’ve been planning to independently publish my work for several years, but felt stymied by uncertainty of exactly how to do it. This workshop helped to give me an understanding of what I need to do to be able to make this really happen, and hopefully with success.”

“I’d recommend this course to anyone who is considering whether or not self-publishing is the right path, or anyone who has already decided to take the Indie plunge but isn’t sure where to start.”

I too, am inspired to take the indie leap. Will my effort be as grand and ambitious as Darcy’s journey? Probably not, but her workshop has given me a strong sense of where I can go in indie publishing. Better yet, I now have the roadmap I’ll need to get there.

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