REALIZATION: I’ve ALWAYS Been an Independent Publisher


I wrote and illustrated my first books in second grade. My teacher, Mrs. Cook was kind enough to provide me with the tools–crayons and colored construction paper–and allow me to indulge my creativity.

fleagle eraserLike many kids in my class, I had a cast of rubber pencil erasers shaped like animals or dinosaurs that lived in the old cigar box in my desk. The box was supposed to neatly hold crayons, pens and pencils–but most of us fashioned them into homes complete with little pieces of furniture. One of my residents was an eraser in the visage of “Fleagle”–a character from the Banana Splits kids TV show. I don’t remember the content of my story–but I do remember tracing the outline of the pencil eraser to create the illustrations. I also remember binding the story pages and a cover together with yarn woven through holes in the book’s “spine.”

I didn’t exactly mass-produce this book. It was a one-off. So I’m not sure if it actually counts as “publishing.” But in my mind, it certainly seems to be the nascent beginning of  a trend.


While I know I continued to write, draw and create throughout elementary school (I remember creating stories for a character I drew called Mickey the Martian), it wasn’t until eighth grade that I started to take self-publishing to the next level. Enter, Super Wid.

superwid original coverSuper Wid was dreamed up in my eighth grade English class–partially to joke with a friend and partially to do something creatively beyond what we were doing in our lessons. The “joke” of the original Mr. Wid morphed into a superhero who often dispatched the evil doers with a tremendous sneeze from his enormous and bulbous nose. The first full comic book (including Super Wid’s Chuck Miller-drawn sidekick, Scot the dog) came late in the school year–nostalgically, another one-off bound with yarn.

After seeing how this one-off “book” got passed from friend to friend for humorous reading, I thought it might be worthwhile to put that original Super Wid story, an additional story and a few other items into a better format for “mass-distribution.” At the time, photocopiers were still mainly in professional or business offices and typically over-protected by office managers. Still, my assistant illustrator (Chuck) managed to get his father to photocopy our new comic book so we could “sell” a dozen or so copies and friends could have them to keep.

That is how Super Wid was self-published for a few years–until my senior year in high school. I was lucky enough to have a practical class that year–Graphic Arts. In the class we learned everything from hand-cut silk screening to how to operate an offset printing press. Of course, one of my first creations was a limited run of Super Wid T-shirts. But my real goal was the creation of a real, printed comic book. It was an education in the printing process–from the creation of the originals and dummy pages to photographing the plates and operating the finicky school printing press.

That final creative product of my high school career was true mass-production and true independent printing. I controlled the process from creation to distribution. Sure, I had a kid’s dream of Super Wid being published by some mainstream comic book company or being picked up by a newspaper as a comic strip. But after graduation I never really worked to take the comic to the next level. My interests changed and my creativity went in another direction.


COVER PAPERBACK 6 X 9With Wendall’s Lullaby, my first novel, I also ended up tapping into these past inclinations and going the self-publishing route. It wasn’t my original intention when I started writing the book sometime in 2007. I shopped the idea to agents and publishers and got many, many rejections. I also had some interest–including a few agents who asked for the first 50 pages. But they never went beyond that and I dropped even finishing the book for a variety of the typical “life-happened” excuses.

When I picked the book up again in the summer of 2017 it was with a fever to get it done and out to the world–partly because it was 98% finished, but mainly because I felt I couldn’t pursue other the book ideas swirling around in my head until that project was complete. And complete meant available to the public for sale. So with the help of Kindle Direct Publishing it became available as an eBook on August 4–and four days later as a print-on-demand paperback.

Now, as I write the sequel to Wendall’s Lullaby and contemplate my future book projects, I’m thinking hard about my self-publishing history and the route I want to take with these works–knowing a deeply-rooted part of me relishes having almost total creative control, but also knowing that my ego and my wallet would sure love to have my work printed, distributed and promoted by a real publisher.

~ by kipwkoelsch on February 16, 2018.

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