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My launch as a published author

3...2...1...take off!

On Saturday, July 9 I signed a contract with a hybrid book agency called Bryler Publications. If all goes according to schedule, come December my beginning chapter book, Lunar Lifter, will be officially published in time for Christmas sales.

The plot

Lunar Lifter is the story of a child’s ingenuity and resourcefulness when he unexpectedly finds himself rocketing through space in a cardboard box. On an otherwise uneventful summer day in Nova Scotia, a fridge is delivered to nine-year-old Cameron’s home. When his little sister, Erin, begins colouring on the discarded fridge box with new magic markers, Cameron reluctantly joins in. Soon Cameron gets caught up in the fun of transforming the box into the Lunar Lifter and outfitting it with everything necessary to travel to the moon. The kids are so absorbed in their task they hardly realize the box is jiggling...until the buttons and controls rise up, and the drawings came to life. They yell and desperately push on the box flaps but Cameron and Erin are trapped inside when the Lunar Lifter blasts off their front lawn and the controls they drew become real.

They land on the moon where they meet Gash, a 268-year-old alien with wrinkly green skin and a ring of eyes around his perfectly round head. Gash quickly learns to speak English but has difficulty understanding idiomatic expressions. For example, when Cameron says, “Cut it out, Gash. Tell us what you know,” the alien replies, “I do not have scissors and I’m not sure how cutting something out would help in this situation.”

As their oxygen tanks deplete, Cameron realizes he needs to quickly find a way back to Earth – and fast. While taking responsibility for his scared little sister and learning to communicate with his funny new alien friend, Cameron devises a creative plan that he hopes will save them.

The story behind the story

I wrote this story for my own children who have long loved transforming and crawling into boxes, and who adore adventure. The first challenge was to combine suspense with humour, and to create characters who, while young, were relatable, brave, clever and open-minded without being sappy. I workshopped the story with my children, students I've taught through the Writers in the School program, friends' and their children, and my infinitely patient and supportive writing group. I paid (twice) for a professional critique from a childrens' book editor and was honoured when the wildly generous and talented Sheree Fitch also read Lunar Lifter and gave me strategies to strengthen and sell it. The next challenge then, the much bigger one, was finding a publisher.

This book has made the rounds. In the end, I am taking a somewhat experimental route to publishing. Traditional publishing is extremely difficult to break into. This is nothing new, although I sense it is worse today than ever before. Publishing companies that are managing to stay open are surviving on razor thin profit margins, with fewer and fewer new books on their lists. They have specific submission guidelines and many won't look at unsolicited manuscripts or those coming from unagented authors like me. They are understandably reluctant to work with first-time fiction writers.

I considered self-publishing. The story is solid, the writing is clean and with my connections, social media know-how and skills in public relations I felt reasonably confident I could market and promote the book. But I was nervous about the sales and distribution side, the copious amount of time self-publishing requires, and I was reluctant to go it alone my first time out.

Hopefully the hybrid model Bryler Publications ( offers is the perfect compromise for me. I share costs for printing and illustrations, they source suppliers, and manage editing, design, printing, marketing, sales and distribution. I get a much larger share of royalties than a traditional publisher offers but also take greater responsibility for promoting and selling the book.

The Lunar Lifter adventure continues, and it's preparing for take off!

Reader Comments (2)

Congratulations, Alison and big hugs! What an amazing and inspiring accomplishment. Can't wait to read it - and to read it to the boys!

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Sounds fantastic Alison. Congratulations and good luck for the future of Lunar Lifter!

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPattie

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