Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Adventure in Making BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking Available on Amazon Kindle

"Your book is available in the Kindle Store!"
That's the email I received in my inbox a few hours after I uploaded my book's file on Amazon.

I didn't expect to receive feedback from Amazon right away. I read in their website that it would take around 12 hours at least to review the book before they could review and approve a book. This email was a welcomed surprise!

It was surreal to see my book on the list of new releases
on Amazon that night!

I started preparing for this project of releasing a Kindle edition of my breastfeeding book around April after my celebrating my birthday. Around that time also, I found out that I was pregnant again so I chose to hire a project coordinator. I hired Judith, my friend who is also a freelance writer like myself because I know she wants to publish her own book someday. I didn't want to hire just anyone because I want the job to add value to the person I will hire for the project. I was so glad she accepted my offer. And because she's my friend, she exhibited a strong commitment and dedication in helping me meet my goals.
I thought that hiring a project coordinator would spare me from a lot of stress. But stress still found its way to me quite well. First, Judith and I had a hard time looking for a layout artist who is available to do the revisions on the layout based on our timeline and budget. Then, when we finally found one, the layout artist that we hired made us believe things were on track for around a week only to tell us around the time she was supposed to submit our expected end result that she didn't get all the required files that we sent. She also began asking questions which she should have asked at the beginning. She couldn't assure us when she'd be able to deliver the expected output. When she finally communicated with us (after some lull), she gave a date that was way beyond my target date of completion for layout revisions. Thus, on the weekend that the layout artist gave us these problems, I decided to do the work myself with the help of my husband. I asked my husband to convert the Pdf file of my book's first edition into Word. Then, I did the updating, editing and required revisions myself. It was very stressful weekend for me! I worked double-time to meet my deadline. I wished that I had worked on the files myself and chose not to outsource to someone else since I ended up doing it under so much time-pressure and stress. Sadly, I didn't know or expect that the person I will hire would be so unprofessional to give me and Judith problems at the last minute. In the end, I was still grateful to God for enabling me to accomplish the task which I initially didn't think I could do.
One of the posters I made.
I thought that my problem with artists stopped when I finished the revisions on the layout. I was wrong. I experienced problems again when I hired artists for the next steps I needed to do in preparation for the Amazon release. Again, I had difficulty finding an artist to revise the back cover of my book. Then, I had hard time looking for an artist to make the posters and other promotional materials for the campaign/release. When I finally found artists who will do the job for me, they turned out not skilled and professional enough to deliver the results I expected. Another disappointment! After a lot of exchanges and headaches, the graphic artist I asked to revise my book's back cover finally delivered the output I required to my satisfaction. But the graphic artist I hired to do my posters wasted a week of my precious time only to tell me that she can't deliver my requirements. At first, she submitted work that did not follow my instructions. Naturally, I asked her to correct the work since these did not meet my requirements. We had a number of email exchanges. I was getting frustrated because simple instructions like what to put behind and what to put in front were not carried out. I had to test my instructions on my 5-year-old boy and our helper to check if my instructions were simple enough to be understood. Unfortunately, the graphic artist failed to understand my instructions even after I translated my instructions in Filipino, unlike my eldest son and our helper who got what I meant. I tried giving the artist a lot of chances by giving additional instructions but after a number of exchanges, the graphic artist emailed me that she's quitting on the job. She even complained that I asked too many revisions on the images. That the amount of work she has done is not commensurate to the rate she gave me. I was terribly disappointed! Honestly, I got mad at her for wasting my precious time making me believe that she will make the corrections/revisions eventually. Imagine, I spent 6 days of communicating with her trying to make her understand what I wanted her to execute when she initially said (before we closed the deal) that she can work on the design concepts I shared in just a few hours. I told her that it was very unprofessional of her to quit after committing that she will make the corrections/revisions and that she will help me meet my deadlines. I also told her that there would have been no need for corrections or revisions had she followed my step-by-step instructions. I even shared with her links to the images I wanted her to use as reference or guide in each poster/image that I wanted her to make. Once more, I had another stressful weekend because of an artist! I decided to do the required work myself because the artists I used to work with were all busy with projects and the good artists I found on had a long line of clients waiting for them to finish their current gigs. It would be too costly for me to hire them. I would need to pay rush fees if I hire them to meet my deadline. By God's grace, I was able to do the work I wanted the graphic artist to do for me. 

In the end, I thanked the Lord for enabling me to do the work required even though the people I hired failed to deliver. The blessing behind these unexpected problems was that I was somehow able to save some money since I didn't have to pay for artists. I just regretted that I chose to hire/outsource these services. I should have done these things myself at an earlier time. Sadly, I didn't expect/know that the people I will hire would be unprofessional. The good is that I was able to overcome these obstacles.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
Judith and I found someone on who will convert my Pdf and Word file into mobi (one of the formats needed to upload your book in Amazon). Praise God for this person that we hired was very professional. She even went the extra mile to help me get the best Kindle version of my book. It happened that there were a lot of formatting errors even with repeatedly proofreading and corrections. My patience was being tested once more. Thankfully, Beth (the one whom we hired) patiently corrected all the errors I found. When I found additional errors that needed to be revised (which were no longer within our agreement), I offered to buy at least 1 extra gig from her. To my surprise, she declined. Instead she did some more revisions. In the end, she even gave me additional instructions so my husband and I can eventually do the corrections ourselves in the future. Wow! What great service! Thank God for sending her our way!
I spent many days and nights proofreading the book after each revision/correction from my converter. What I expected we'd finish in 2-3 days, we finished in over a week. I'm still grateful to God though that we got to upload the file and get approval before our deadliest deadline. My book finally went live on Amazon on July 24 (Philippine time) after much hard work and challenges! My husband and I praised and thanked God for this achievement and milestone.
Actually, doing the administrative stuff before finally getting the approval from Amazon was also not a breeze. We had internet connection problems the whole week. Our country (and city) was hit by a typhoon, which caused power interruption in our area and in other parts of the metro. We had not electricity for three days. Then, when we finally had electricity, we suffered from intermittent internet connection. These slowed me down even more in meeting my targets.  What I could have finished in a few minutes took me almost the whole day. Actually, I started working around mid-morning. I finished uploading after dinner. I felt like I was inching my way to the finish line!
But ALL the negative feelings and thoughts were replaced by joy and thanksgiving when I finally saw my book on Amazon! Praise God! I know that God paved the way for it to be available in Kindle edition despite the many obstacles I had to overcome. I know that it was His grace that sustained me in all these hardships.

Click here to go to my book page on Amazon.
I hope and pray that this development would help me achieve my goal of inspiring and empowering more moms around the world through my book BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking. Just like my breastfeeding adventure with my kids that was replete with challenges, I still consider this adventure and journey towards having my book published on Amazon a journey worth taking. ;)
Are you also an aspiring author? Are you also going through difficulties in making your dream a reality? Don't quit! Don't give up on your dream! Sometimes, the Lord allows challenges and hardships our way to increase our skills and to stretch our capacity to receive more blessings from Him and to expand our reach and ability to touch more lives. Most of the time, He allows these things to happen to us to help us grow in faith in Him and to draw us closer to Him. may your challenges bring out the best in you in the same way that my challenges brought the best in me! 
Download my BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking's Kindle Edition now and get at least 20% savings! Click here to avail of this offer.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It’s not about me… It’s about the message God has entrusted to me.

I have perfectionist tendencies. I like being able to plan well and ahead for projects that I handle. I like the feeling of being in control of things. I want to make sure that whatever I choose to embark on would be successful.
But God has many times called me to do things I felt I wasn’t ready for. I felt unprepared and unsure during those times. It was not surprising that I found myself stumbling along the way. Generally though, I was pretty impressed with the results. Of course, I knew very well that the good results were not really because of me. I knew right from the start that if it were all up to me and my capability, the results would be different. 

I’m at a time in my life once more when I feel unprepared. I also feel unworthy 
God has called me to write a book about breastfeeding. I was able to complete it and launch the print book successfully by the grace of God. Now, He has called me to work on the eBook version.  
So, I started planning. Then, I got pregnant and I was forced to be on bed rest by my frequent vomiting. I thought of hiring assistants, people who can help me do the legwork so I wouldn’t be stressed too much. The project is almost done; but we encountered glitches along the way and somehow, I was stressed at those developments. I thought that the conversion of the print book into eBook is the hard part. I discovered that marketing and promoting it entails a lot of hard work as well. This realization kept me awake in the past nights. I felt overwhelmed with the amount of work (that I read in the internet) I needed to do to market and promote my book in preparation for its release in Amazon.  I felt that there isn’t enough time to do those things. I felt that I have very limited budget at this time to spend on marketing and promotion. Moreover, when I checked the category and subcategories where I plan to include my book, I discovered that most books published by Amazon in those categories were authored by doctors or medical practitioners. Thus, I felt unworthy. I felt the burning question creep into my mind once more: Who am I to write a book on breastfeeding? 

Then, God inspired me to reread a book that inspired me to persist while I was writing my breastfeeding book last year. Let me quote some lines that God used this afternoon to speak courage into my heart. 


“You don’t have to be ready. Conditions don’t have to be perfect. Because it’s not about you. It’s about God fulfilling his purposes through you, and he has always been able to make that happen in spite of our humanity and the fallen world around us.”

                                                            - Holley Gerth, You're Made for a God-Sized Dream
It struck me.
It's really not about me... It's about the message God has entrusted to me.
If I'm certain that it's God's Will that I publish this book and spread God's message, what's keeping me from doing the next steps? In this case, releasing it worldwide through Amazon's platform so that more people would have access to it.
God has given me enough resources and energy to get to this point. It's time to launch once more into the deep.
If I let my pride, fear and hesitations hinder me, I would deprive myself of the privilege to be God's vessel of wisdom and love to more people. For truly, whatever wisdom and insights I have shared in my book are not mine to claim. They were inspired by God. It was God Himself who revealed those thoughts to me and I am but His scribe.
Do you also feel called to launch a book, a business or a project? Do you feel that your circumstances are far from ideal or at least supportive? Do you feel unprepared and unworthy?
Here are two more important questions you need to answer. 
Is God calling you to embark on this?
Do you know that the success of this venture is not solely dependent on you?
God reminded me of something very important today. I only need to make myself available for Him and to offer Him my best. I don't need to do EVERYTHING!
The truth is, I can choose to delay things so I can plan and prepare well-enough to my liking. That would make me feel confident. But that would not guarantee my success still. Because doing so would mean relying more on my own capacity, instead of relying on God's infinite wisdom and power.
It's alright to plan and prepare. But when we know in our hearts that God is already calling us to act, then, we should obey Him.
Today, God wants me to plan for what I can realistically do myself and with the help of some people, and to entrust the results to Him. For if this book and this message means a lot to me, they mean so much more to God. 

Let me end with a quote from Isaiah 55:11, "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."