When Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables in 1905, it was rejected by many publishing companies in the three-year period before the Page Company in Boston took a chance on it.
Perhaps, if she was around today, she might be an advocate for self-publishing – an option that has opened up a whole new world to those wanting to write books, including today’s youth.
Klaudia Trajanovski is one person who has gone down that road. The Charlottetown, PEI woman published her first book, In The Dark: The Haemot Saga last year when she was only 20 years old.
Trajanovski read a lot as a kid, both at home and in school, as a form of escapism.
“I always loved getting sucked into a book and reading for so long that when I stopped, it felt weird being back in my normal life,” she says. “I thought it was impressive how stories could do so much, even though it’s just a bunch of words on a page. I wanted to be able to do the same thing.”
For as long as she can remember, Trajanovski’s dream was to have a book on a shelf in a bookstore.
Self-publishing make that dream come true in 2021.
“I had this burning desire to have a full novel written. My dad gave me the challenge to write a book using the hero’s journey model. I took that model and flipped it around until In the Dark was born.”
in the dark
Trajanovski’s story follows the journey of a young woman named Melon, whose life takes a dramatic turn when her cult leader father attempts to perform an exorcism on her ‘possessed’ arm.
Melon flees from her home in the village of Patch. Darlin, a young traveler who is investigating the Black Church in the center of Patch, stumbles upon a traumatized Melon. The newfound companions’ journey across the land to find a purpose for their lives.
Her first book was a labor of love for Trajanovski and her father.
“It was just me and my dad. I wrote, we both edited, and he helped me figure out how to get my book published on Amazon,” she says.
Instead of working with a publishing company, Trajanovski went the route of self-publishing.
“I am very protective of my work and my art. I like the idea of having complete control over what happens to it and how it looks when it’s finished and presented to the world,” she explains.
“I can’t stand the idea of having someone else have any say over something so personal to me.”
Trajanovski admits that working with a publisher would have its merits, but “numerous stories go untold as it is a highly competitive industry,” she points out.
“Self-publishing has many challenges but you do get creative freedom and control and the chances of your work seeing daylight are much higher,” she says.
With self-publishing, Trajanovski notes, “you are doing everything yourself, from editing to the artwork and cover and the major challenge of marketing and distribution.”
Kacey Dean of Middle Musquodoboit, NS has also followed her dream to write through self-publishing. She was just 13 years old when she published her first book by Ella in 2021, a 34-page children’s picture book called Sadie’s Story: It is Okay to Be Different.
“Sadie’s Story is a sweet story that focuses on how it is OK to be different and on the power of the unconditional love between a little girl and her horse,” says Kacey.
Kacey was motivated to write a book as a means to make money to buy her own horse.
“When I saw the suggestion of writing a children’s book, I thought it was a great idea. My mom had self-published a book the year before so I knew that she could help me with the details of how to do it.”
“I really wanted to buy a new horse. My mom is a single parent and she told me that she couldn’t afford to buy the horse,” she explains. “But she said that if I came up with a way to help pay for the horse then I could get her.”
Kacey and her mother Karen searched online for ideas of how teenagers could make money.
“When I saw the suggestion of writing a children’s book, I thought it was a great idea,” she says. “My mom had self-published a book the year before so I knew that she could help me with the details of how to do it.”
Kacey’s mom Karen Dean is also an author.
Kacey said her mom helped her with the editing and the technical elements around self-publishing.
“We also got someone to help with laying the book out and making sure the file was formatted properly to upload to the publisher,” she says.
They also hired illustrator Megan Johnson from Truro, NS to do the artwork for the book.
“(Megan) grew up riding horses so she was very excited to illustrate my book, which was the first book she had ever illustrated, making one of her dreams come true,” Kacey added.
Kacey was grateful for the help she got along the way.
“To find an illustrator who was the perfect choice for bringing my book to life. And my mom was a really big help in doing the details of getting the book online and helping to promote it.”
Advice regarding self-publishing
Trajanovski recommends finding a support group for anyone considering taking this route.
“Friends who will cheer you on and keep you going, people to tell you not to give up. They should also be people who care enough to tell you the truth about your work,” she says.
She admits it can be hard to keep going with respect to a lack of confidence that many new writers experience.
“I always would talk down on myself, and I still do, telling myself that no one will like my story and that no one will even want to read it.”
Trajanovski also admits to being a little scared to share her book with the world.
“I know when you put something out into the world, you have to accept criticism, but even after preparing myself, I was and am still scared. I don’t think I ever won’t be scared, but I have to keep working otherwise I’ll always regret the things I never let myself write.”
Kacey, meanwhile, points out there are also a lot of resources online to help figure out how to publish your book.
“I always think it is important to ask for help with the things that you are not good at,” she says.
She chose the route of self-publishing her book because it “is so easy compared to working with someone else,” she said.
“You don’t have to find an agency or beg for someone to publish your book for you. And you get to keep more of the money that your book makes.”
Kacey admits that the biggest challenge with self-publishing “is marketing when you don’t have an established publishing company promoting your book through their networks.”
Universe of stories to tell
Trajanovski says she plans to “continue writing books as long as my brain can come up with ideas.”
She is already working on the second book of her Haemot Saga series.
“We have an arch already planned out, and enough ideas to write multiple books yet. I have an entire universe of stories to tell,” she says.
Like Trajanovski, readers can also watch for more books from Kacey in the near future.
“When I wrote Sadie’s Story, I had ideas to write more books in the Feel Good Farm series using our farm animals as characters,” she says.
“I will definitely write more books to share how incredible animals are and how they teach us so many things about living life to the fullest, without judgment and with unconditional love for everyone.”
She’s hopeful other kids will feel empowered to follow their own dreams.
“I hope that my story inspires other young people to get out of their comfort zone and work hard to accomplish their dreams,” she adds.
Trajanovski is also hopeful others will learn from her experience.
“As someone who has depression as well as being on the autism spectrum, this book and the fact that I published it is incredibly important to me,” Trajanovski said.
“In my experience, writing and trying to organize my thoughts is actually incredibly difficult. Even though writing is something I love and want to do, it’s so hard some days to even want to write as little as 100 words.”
Her advice to others?
“To all the writers out there, one hundred words is still better than zero. You can do it.”
How to get the books
In The Dark: The Haemot Saga
Via Klaudia’s website Pretty Piper Publishing or directly from Amazon
Sadie’s Story: It’s Okay to Be Different
Online from Chapters and Amazon in Canada, online from Barnes & Noble in the USA, at Target in the USA, in some Chapters stores across Canada and several local stores around the Maritime provinces.
Learn more about Kacey Deam on Facebook and Instagram @Feel.Good.Farm.Books