In June 2013, after coordinating a local service project for Global Youth Service Day, I began brainstorming ways that my organization could raise money for our future projects. We worked with the Society of St. Andrew to have a Potato Drop in our community, which provided a great service opportunity for youth and families. As a way to raise money and create awareness, my four-year-old daughter and I wrote our first children’s picture book, Stella the Sweet Potato’s Amazing Journey .

There was a lot of interest in the book from our community and service organization, so I knew we wanted to get it published. However, I was intimidated by the thought of trying to find an agent or a publisher. Then I remembered watching an interview on TV and hearing an author mention that he used CreateSpace, an Amazon company, to self-publish his book.

Using CreateSpace, we started the project in June 2013 and had our final published product available for purchase on August 1, 2014. The process of publication was very straightforward. CreateSpace provides independent publishing opportunities with free and easy tools to help authors complete their books. They provide templates depending on standard book sizes. With the children’s book I used Microsoft Publisher then converted it to a PDF file that was uploaded in the system. Later, when I published two workbooks, I was able to use a Microsoft Word template. CreateSpace also provides options for book covers.

There are premium services available through CreateSpace for those wanting a more professional, individualized or polished look. For my purposes with all royalties going to non-profit organizations, I appreciated being able to publish the books for free. One service I did pay for is expanded distribution, although my sales through that service was limited. Choosing to go through expanded distribution meant the cost for the picture book had to increase, so after a couple of months, I discontinued that option and was able to lower the cost to purchasers. I have published four works through CreateSpace so far. I have not encountered any issues. I knew going into the process that I would have to promote and advertise the book myself but having the book already listed on Amazon has made the process very easy and beneficial.