For local children’s author Barbara Jones, inspiration for her stories can come from anywhere: playing with her children (and now, grandchildren), a walk along the Poudre River, a drive through town.
She envisioned her book, “The Barnacle and Briny Circus: the Greatest Show Under the Sea,” many years ago while doing an activity book with her children: “We had some children’s craft books and one had all these fish in it. I started to see that all the names of sea creatures fit the circus [e.g., lion fish]. Barnacle and Briny Circus came out of nowhere.”
After navigating the complexities of the publishing industry and children’s books market, and researching and writing query letters, Barbara eventually decided to self-publish her story and since then has added four more titles to her list of children’s books and short fiction.
“You don’t have the boundaries that a traditional publisher might put on you [when you self-publish],” she explains. “You have a lot more say in the book and more creative decision making.
“I think it’s amazing that the library includes self-published books [through the SELF-e platform]. It shows that just because you’re not traditionally published doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer or don’t have a good story. Self-published doesn’t mean ‘less than’; it’s just a different way to go about it.”
Barbara credits working with strong partners throughout the writing and publishing process as part of her success.
“I’ve learned so much, especially from my editor right now,” she mentions. “I continue to learn to hone the craft of writing and learn what I’m good at and what I’m not.” (Those areas which Barbara doesn’t feel she’s “good at” – like illustration or design – she leaves to local professionals.)
As part of her self-publishing route, Barbara established her own press, Riverflows Press, and has books available for sale at Old Firehouse Books and Nature’s Own as well as available for check out at the Poudre River Public Libraries. She also used Amazon’s CreateSpace, a print-on-demand / download-on-demand service, to distribute her work to a wider audience. And she recently added her work to the Library District’s digital collection through the Library’s new SELF-e publishing platform.
With just a few clicks on the computer, authors can upload their eBook(s) via SELF-e to publish it to the Library’s digital collection via Biblioboard and also make is available to other readers throughout Colorado through the “Indie Colorado” digital collection. Authors can also link readers to websites like Amazon to purchase their work.
“Okay, my mother loves my book and my family, but I’d like it to get out there. SELF-e is great for exposure and getting my books out to more people,” Barbara explains with a laugh. “I want my books to be read to someone’s child. That’s my end goal: someone sitting on a bed, reading the story at night before bedtime.”
For Barbara, having kids read her books and getting to see their reactions to the story is the best book review she can earn. She frequently does author visits to local schools and daycares to share her books and stories.
Readers can find all of Barbara’s books by visiting the “Fort Collins and Northern Colorado Authors” collection via Biblioboard or by searching the Library District’s catalog. Her children’s and tweens’ books include “The Barnacle and Briny Circus: the Greatest Show Under the Sea,” “Your Monster is Really a Mess!,” “The Lightning Bug Brothers,” and “Bridle Hill: Your Time Will Come.”
Barbara is currently working on a new book, a historical fiction-Christian novella set in Colorado in late 1800s. The story, “Stetson Creek,” will follow the lives of Elizabeth and Samuel as they arrive in Colorado on the Kansas Pacific Railway to build their ranch and family.
Interested in the Library’s writing and self-publishing tools?
Find more information and links to the services – Pressbooks, SELF-e, and Biblioboard – via our online Writer’s Café. Or, talk to any of our library staff next time you’re in the library.