There's an author in our midst.
Mrs. Tracy Vanderneck, director of Annual Giving at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School, authored a nonfiction novel over the summer, which was quickly followed by a children's book illustrated by her husband.
The first book, titled "The Risk of a Fall," is a fictional tale about a granddaughter who has to take care of her grandmother. Vanderneck said the novel was inspired by personal experiences as well as stories she'd heard from other people.
"This particular topic is pretty relevant to me right now, just because I'm at the age where when I go to parties, and...there's always someone talking about how they're having to take care of their parents or an older relative," she said.
Vanderneck, who self-published the first book online through Kindle and Amazon's "publishing on demand" feature, said the publishing process was almost more difficult than the writing process.
"The writing process was pretty quick. What took longer was researching all the things I needed to do in order to self-publish. I had to learn about things like publishing insurance and copyrights. Figuring out the formatting process and all the technical stuff on Amazon was somewhat of a pain. I'd end up having to upload things over and over, so that took quite a while. Overall, though, the process was pretty user-friendly," she said.
"The Risk of a Fall" can be purchased on amazon.com. The Kindle edition is being sold for $7.15, and the paperback edition is available for $9.25.
Vanderneck said the process was made easier for her by her husband, who conveniently served as her editor.
"I'm lucky enough to be married to a man who has degrees in English and Communications, because he was basically my built-in editor. I just kind of poured out ideas, and he would look at them and say, "Well, if you change the order of this, the story will flow better," she said.
After publishing the book online, Vanderneck said she created a Facebook page, sent out press releases and made an author website and a press page in order to gain publicity.
"I was lucky. It got written up in three places within the first two months, which was more than I expected. Because of that, the book started getting a lot more attention," she said.
Soon after the successful publication of "The Risk of a Fall," Vanderneck and her husband decided to finally act upon a dream that was five years in the making.
"My husband is an illustrator, and we've been talking for a few years about doing a kids' book. So we decided this was the year, and it just came out. It's called "The Tale of the Circus Monkey and the Halloween Horseman,"" she said.
The Halloween-themed children's book is available on amazon.com for $10.25 in paperback. However, Vanderneck said she and her husband opted not to publish it via Kindle.
"We decided to only publish it in paperback because we weren't sure how all of the pictures would look on the Kindle screen," she said.
Vanderneck added that the illustrations in the children's book made the publication process quite an ordeal.
"The kids' book was even more of a process because of all the drawings and things we had to do. I think it took longer for me to upload and format his drawings than it did for him to draw them," she said.
Because most bookstores don't sell books by independent authors, Vanderneck said the publishing online was the best option.
"Publishing online was definitely worth it. Kindle copies have outsold paper copies almost two to one," she said.
Vanderneck said her favorite part of the process was getting to see the final product.
"For both books, I'd say the most fun part was to get the finished copy in the mail. Seeing them both professionally bound and printed made it seem more real," she said.