Early July, I self-published a small travel memoir, Away at a Camp in Maine, through Createspace.com, an arm of Amazon.
I wrote the book eight years ago; it had an agent in NY for six but she was unable to sell it. Wanting closure and my message to finally get out into the world, I decided, reluctantly, to self-publish. For my own validation, I wanted to publish through what I considered "regular" channels and held out for a long time.
Perhaps that can now happen on the next book....
I share this because within the first few days of publishing, I determined is was SO right to have done it. I dedicated my book to my Aunt and Uncle who owned a camp on Crescent Lake in Raymond. I spent my childhood there and then they sold it when I was twenty.
I also dedicated it to Sarah, the woman who bought the camp from my relatives and rented it to us for ten years when my boys were young. My Uncle died at the end of 2008; my aunt, just a few weeks before my book came out. They never read it. However, Sarah's email when she received my book in the mail was enough to make it all worthwhile. She thanked me for writing it, for capturing the essence of it, for dedicating it to her...for being her friend.
Since then, the purchases by friends and their comments have far exceeded anything I could have hoped for. I was invited to an island off Boothbay Harbor for an overnight with a former colleague and my former hairdresser who moved away to Florida and I hadn't seen for 5 years. They invited me to celebrate my book. We ate lobsters bought right from the docks that morning and drank Marguerita's using cute little flip flop coasters I had bought her for her move to Florida. She said she thought of me every time she used those coasters. Their group of women friends have two get-togethers each year...and they call themselves the "flip flops," partly due to my little gift. Wow. Who knew?
A neighbor of my Mom's sent me a card after reading. Their son owns a camp in Raymond so while visiting him, she and her husband set out to find the general store in my book, E. R. Clough. She said Rudy was salivating for some of the penny candy! They had a long conversation with the owner of the store about the book, and in her card, she sent me photos of the store and a small brown bag they had put their penny candy in, just like the little bags I talk about in my story.
A colleague, after reading, said she set out to find Crescent Lake. She described looking for the Fire Route but couldn't recall the exact number. They looked for the yellow farmhouse in the chapter titled Running the Camp Roads. They felt they were so close but just couldn't quite pin it down...and then they came upon the public beach with its sign Crescent Lake. Success.
The book is reminding people of their own camp experiences, and now they're sharing them with me. Childhood friends I haven't seen in seventeen years invited me to dinner last week and we were right back to elementary school, middle school, snow mobiling, water skiing, and laughing, laughing, laughing.
I'm so glad to have published this book - there is no question that was the right thing to do. I am having such fun connecting. I am humbled and grateful from the response.
Photo: Away at a Camp in Maine on the shelves at L L Bean