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Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability – A Createspace Story

Guest post by Judy Johnson Berna

I’ve always loved to write but never dreamed I could do it for a living some day. I got the basic Elementary Education degree then ended up staying home for 20 years raising children. During the years my house was full of toddlers I researched the publishing industry, checking out every book I could find at the library. I submitted articles and essays to the major parenting magazines. I had some nibbles but no bites. Several editors gave me the classic advice, “Write something that is unique, something that no one else can write about as clearly as you can.”

It wasn’t until 2004 that I finally figured out what my story would be. In January of that year I voluntarily had my leg amputated. I’d lived with a deformed foot all my life and suspected I could get a more active life with prosthetics. Just days after my surgery my husband got me set up on our home computer, keeping my casted stump elevated, and said, ‘Go… write it!”

I worked on that story, that turned into a book manuscript, for over eight years. About year five I started sending out query letters to publishers and agents. I checked out all the newer books on how to get published. For three years I had lots of nibbles, but yet again, no bites.

By this time I was reading more and more online about how self publishing was making a new name for itself. It no longer required thousands of dollars up front and many self published books were hitting the NY Times Best Seller list. The negative stigma of having a self published book started to change.

After a few weeks of research I settled on Createspace. I liked that the upfront cost was minimal. I liked that it would be available on Amazon. I figured that most people would be buying my book online anyway so it didn’t bother me that it wouldn’t show up at a brick and mortar store. I knew that having a good book website would do me the most good so I quickly bought the domain name.

I loved every step of the process with Createspace. Their website is set up very logically, taking you through each step, letting you see what’s coming up while walking you through your current step. I had to call the customer service line several times, about questions I just couldn’t find the answers to online. I never waited on hold for more than one minute and every single time I called I had a service representative who spoke English, was friendly, and was knowledgeable about the publishing process. It’s the best customer service I’ve had, from any company, in a long time.

I didn’t use their other services because I had a wide network of friends to call on for help. A friend from childhood who has a journalism degree did amazing edits for me. My son took the photo for the front cover and an artist friend designed the rest of the cover around it. She also designed my logo so my book would have a brand. I constantly examined the books on my own bookshelf to get ideas about what kind of spacing I wanted, what kind of font, and even the color of the paper. During this time I was also setting up the website, uploading pictures that I knew readers would want to see.

I ordered my first proof copy and was not happy with how some of my choices looked in an actual book, but was very pleased with the quality. I made the changes and re-submitted. I loved the second proof copy and knew I was ready to push the publish button.

Five days later my book was on Amazon.com.

I am now thankful that no publisher picked up my book. In the editing process I got to have the final say about what stayed and what got cut. It was mine, exactly how I wanted it. I got to pick the set up and design and didn’t have to settle for what a publisher might have chosen. I can truthfully say this book is totally mine and I’m proud of it.

I wouldn’t hesitate to use Createspace to publish again. I would encourage others to really consider this option. I have many friends with books that are published by traditional publishing houses and they tell me that 99% of the marketing falls on them anyway. So all the marketing work I’m doing now would have been mine to do even if I’d found a publisher.

If you want to see my story and how my book turned out feel free to visit my book’s website, found at justonefoot.com. There is a link on the right for buying the book and there are picture galleries and other resources on other pages of the site. Feel free to look around.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Judy Berna September 10, 2012, 10:45 am

    Thanks Josh! I appreciate the chance to sing the praises of this company that gave me a chance to see my book in print. I’m hoping it helps a lot of people who are struggling with their own big life decisions. Thanks again for letting me guest post!


  • shane vanoosterhout September 10, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Judy, good for you. I think self-publishing is an amazing tool that gives every writer an opportunity to see his or work in print or available for e-reader. A big challenge we face is marketing, which can be formidable and expensive. But I think the once a writer’s voice is out there–indie pub, websites, blogs, etc., it gives us a tiny bit more confidence to keep on writing and striving to be excellent with our craft.