People often ask:
"How long did it take you to write your book?"
The short answer is the whole writing process from start to finish took over 3 years but the truth is it all started with a journal.
When Ben was first diagnosed, my sister-in-law Debbie, gave me a journal and she said:
"You need to write things down as you are on this journey" and I will forever be grateful.
There are so many funny stories that I would have forgotten as well as remembering all of the times that God provided just the right person or solution at just the right time when we felt we were up against the brick wall.
I am not a daily journal writer by any means and there were long stretches of time where I did not make any entries but there was enough content to tell our story.
After I had the rough outline of how I wanted to write the book, I started chipping away at the chapters. My idea was to start each chapter with the question "I wonder if..." to introduce the next chapter. For example, "I wonder if Ben has a hearing issue?" "I wonder if Ben will ever learn to read?" etc.
The physical writing took about a year until I felt I had enough material to actually take the next step. That involved having someone edit the book and we were so fortunate that my cousin's son Michael Albright was gifted in that area and willing to take on the project. He did a fabulous job, not only looking at the grammatical issues but also challenging me to expand some of the emotions felt at different points in time. He also helped me evaluate some content that did not tell the story effectively and could be better worded.
The editing process took another year until the suggestions were made and completed. Then came the big question, how do we get this to press? We started sending out query letters to literary agents which is also a time consuming process. Each agent has their own format and submission criteria and you want it to look it's best for consideration.
We were so thrilled that a literary agent offered us a contract and that she believed in the book enough to want to represent it to the publishing houses. That's were the biggest hurdle lay. After another year and multiple submissions on her part, none of the publishing houses were interested in the project, stating
"Our platform was not big enough".
We made the decision to self publish and that took another several months to figure out the best company to use and how to prepare the book for printing. It involved our son Dan designing the incredible cover art and formatting the entire book to meet the standards for the printing company. We read the book multiple times making sure it was mistake free and felt we were ready to go to print.
The process took so long that as we looked at some of the final chapters, they were no longer true because so much had changed in Ben's life in the past 3 years and they had to be rewritten. We sent the final edits to Michael and he tweaked the chapters and then made the comment that we really should not have hyphenated words split between the lines of the chapters. (this is an example of how it should not be done)
We were so close to going to print but we knew he was right. It was daunting to consider the hours it would take to fix all of the hyphenated words and were not sure what that would do to all of our page formatting that we had spent hours on (mostly Dan had spent hours on!) But in true Dan fashion he said:
"Let me google it"
And low and behold there is one toggle button in the program that with one click fixed all of the hyphenation issues!!! We only had a few page fixes at that point and we were ready to send it to the printer.
Diggypod is the print on demand company that we chose to use and we can't say enough about the quality of the product or the ease of using their website. You can use a product calculator without even having an account so that you can see what size book to order and what it will cost to print the volume you want. There is even free shipping when you order at least 100 books. They provide a free online proof for you to see before you send them any money and the best thing of all is that they actually answer their phones with a real person every time you call and will offer directions to questions before ordering.
And the rest, as they say, is history. We received our order and starting promoting the book on social media. We have received such positive feedback from families with children on the spectrum but were also pleasantly surprised that all families found encouragement and some parenting advice in the pages.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy, the book is exclusively available on our website Benergy1.com
Love you more,