"I am Special", written by Lai Yit Loong and Catherine Lai, is a picture book relating the life of Benjy, a boy with autism. The reader gets a glimpse at what he can do and his accomplishments thus far. As a parent of a special needs child I was encouraged by the letters and poems written by Benjy's older sisters.
I had the opportunity to this great couple a few months ago. When I heard that they had published a book, I immediately wanted to ask them loads of questions regarding publishing. So, below are the questions and answers by Yit Loong.
1. How did you decide which publisher to use?
Since I had not published a book before, I wanted a publisher who could offer a complete range of services with few or no restrictions and conditions, was flexible and accommodating, and willing to publish anything for a fee. I wanted to fully experience the journey of writing and publishing a book from the initial draft all the way thru to having the book finally printed and featured on Amazon.com.
I came across Authorhouse from a friend who had published a cookbook a couple of months before I decided to start the project.
2. What did you find to be the most difficult part in publishing?
The most challenging part was to decide the target audience of the book. The book grew and evolved as we got deeper into the project. I started with a simple idea of writing a story for my son's birthday present. Just for him to read. Then the idea expanded. I thought, wound't it be nice if the parents could read the book together with the child ? So I added my story and Cat's story for the parents. Then the idea grew again: why not make it into a family book that everyone in the family could express how they feel towards Benjy ? So I added stories from my girls. The next question came: why not make it into a book that we could share with our friends and family? So we added a bunch of photos. Finally, I thought it would be so cool if we added some illustrations to add more colors and variations. So writing this book has taught me many things, especially how to develop and turn a simple idea into the book. The most important thing I have learnt is an idea will remain an idea locked in your head, and rather meaningless until you do something about it. Wonderful experience and great results will follow when you act.
3. How have you marketed your book?
Authorhouse helps to put the book on google search and makes it available on the online stores. We discuss and share our work on Facebook with our friends. Cat shares it with other TAS mothers and friends. Thanks to TAS PTA (Parent Teacher Association) to help promote it. We also promote it at the school's Spring fair. We are grateful for friends and families who have supported us.
4. What do you feel has been the best way to market your book?
We find reaching out and openly talking about our experience raising Benjy and why we have written the book very effective in connecting with people. Benjy did a good job trying to autograph every book we have sold. We have been pleasantly surprised and extremely grateful at the level of support we have received so far.
5. Any advise to those seeking publishing?
Start with a passion to write. Then just do it. There are a lot of people and resources out there offering to help.
6. Plan to write more books in the future?
Yes...I would like to write an anthology on my family stories, a family cookbook and a business book.
I liked Yit Loong's advise, "Then just do it."