We had our “last” winter snowstorm yesterday, and today is sunny and snow covered and magical!

I just finished this collage of the Taj Mahal for our chai book that we are self-publishing. I’m trying to catch up with Patrick, who is ahead on the writing, but it’s challenging with life right now. I’m trying to hold some sort of focus and keep up endurance on this project amidst everything else. Just gotta keep chugging along and thinking I can. Envisioning nothing but that. It’s wild how time becomes more sacred once you have a baby. And books! In general, they are labors of love, and add to that self-publishing (and allllll the time, no advance, $ investment, focus, love, and grit that accompany this path), and we’re talkin’ serious, love-a-la-labour.

Since we are still in the midst of this long journey+collaboration, I thought I’d share some things we are doing AND ask for ideas that might help … with ANY part of this process…organization, collaboration, mixin’ it up creatively, seeing the big picture — figuring out how to take a step back from an individual piece of writing or design (or the whole project) and seeing where things are working and where they aren’t…and trusting where to take it(!), knowing what to edit out (what would be interesting to others and what wouldn’t, being your own art director/editor/publisher, finding the right editor, budgeting, workin’ while being a momma…and wise words/insight from others who have self-published or worked on big, collaborative projects.

This is definitely a process that some day, we want to share all about, and hopefully inspire others to embark on. It is awesome for sure, but long and difficult also– just like a pilgrimage. Makes our title even more appropriate. I know there are MANY unwritten books out there that can’t find homes with a publisher for whatever reason, and, are ‘perfect’ for self-publishing. We chose this route for several reasons. Not only did our book not fit into the molds of several publishers we approached, we think our book is unique and realized that we wanted the creative freedom of self-publishing. Plus, we are excited and energetic about the whole journey of getting our book out to you — people we think would “get it”.

For those who don’t know, Patrick and I are collaborating on this travel-photography-art-recipe book, inspired by chai culture in India and Nepal, and our backpacking adventures, while researching it…thus, the title: Chai Pilgrimage. Process-wise, we are doing the following as we go:

– brainstorm sessions over fresh masala chai (for both writing and design); morning time is best.

– timed writings, list-making, idea-journals. plus, we wrote in journals while traveling that are a good resource.

– idisk sharing of writing and jpgs back and forth :: i’d love to dive into Adobe Bridge…anyone use it? would it be worth learning and using for this project? i keep thinking it would help us with the back and forth of each spread, chapter, comments, etc.

– a master layout of the entire book in adobe InDesign — jpgs of ‘finished’ spreads are inserted and pages yet to be designed are titled for now. this has really helped us a lot, especially in balancing design + subject matter, and seeing whole chapters come together. it’s also a HUGE help in editing down our immense material!

– we have a website going with a blog (that has slowed down for now since we are focusing more on finishing the book) to gain interest, feedback, contacts, and an ever-growing email list to announce our book when it is out. we also have plans for a ‘real’ website once our book is closer to printing.

– found a print broker who can print with a credible printer in India (!!!!)

– found a few possible editors (ideally it will be someone who has traveled/lived in India and ‘gets’ our book), and plan to test them out before hiring the right one

– looking more at page weight and book covers and binding to get an idea of what we want

– consulting with designers over type/fonts/size

– we found this great advice a few years ago, too

That is all I can think of right now. I think setting small deadlines and sticking to them would really help… And finding ways to be braver, take more chances in designing; and trust myself. But I know there is more insight/advice we would really benefit from! I just don’t know what it is to ask for. So, thanks in advance. I appreciate it! I know we can do it, and it will be awesome. Just gotta build some momentum again.