A comforting, calming feeling came over me the day Joey and I picked up the copies of A Reel Cool Summer from the printing house. We had been working on our little book for about nine months. Being separated by 5,000 miles and who knows how many time zones wasn’t easy but we made it work. We spoke almost every day and emails flew back and forth by the minute. Many times we emailed each other while on the phone. I think we said, “I’m emailing it to you right now,” and, “Okay, I just got it, let me look at it,” a million times… at least it seemed that way.
It was an amazingly stressful and joyful time. We worried a lot and we laughed a lot. We made fun of each other and of ourselves. One of us would ask, “Who writes and illustrates a book and publishes it themselves?” The other would answer, “Apparently, crazy people like us!”
Throughout those nine months we worked hard to move things forward with the hope of getting the book “there.” We were thrilled when the “there” day came and after a few changes to the proof, we were ready to give the printer final approval – or were we? That meant no more wondering if an illustration could be improved or if the story was lacking somehow and no more chances to proofread or make one last change to the cover. It was hard to let go but the final proof did look great. The colors were amazing and the illustrations were detailed and clear. The cover was perfect, the pages were in the correct order, and the text had been proofread to death. We hoped so, anyway! It was time to click the send button on the email and give the order to print. Wait for it. Wait for it. Click! It’s done.
The wait was only about ten days but it seemed like ten eternities. On the one hand, I wanted it to be over, but on the other, I didn’t. Thank God I didn’t have another hand! Then, the call came from the printer. The books were ready. Joey and I jumped in the car and headed over there. Nerves, excitement, nerves, excitement… why is this light red?!
Finally, I held in my hands the first copy of the book. I smelled it. Doesn’t everyone do that? Aaaaah, that new book smell. Every doubt and worry melted away. The months of hard work and nervous jokes seemed like they had never existed. I was calm and excited. I didn’t cry, but it was close. That new book smell defined our journey. All our stinky blood, sweat and tears came out smelling like roses. Here was our little book, ready to jump into the hands of little ones eager to read it. Our hope is that the kiddos will enjoy reading it so much that the new book smell will soon be gone and replaced with whatever that smell is that brings back memories about reading a good book.
Until next time… stay cool!
We'd like to share more of our writing and illustrating journey with you on the GoodReads website. We're having a Q&A session through December 31st. Please stop by and join the conversation with me and Joey at Q&A with Martha Rodriguez.