Back in 1998, at age 26, I started my first business called, Cool Beans Publishing.
The first thing I ever published was a booklet titled, 100 Money-Saving Tips Every College Student Should Know. I was incredibly proud of it and ordered 500 copies from a local printer printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. Five months later, nearly $500 in the hole, and after selling less than 100 copies, I closed up shop and started hunting for jobs again.
Fast forward 21 years later, I’m now launching a new business called, Plaid Frog Press.
Publishing, specifically self publishing, has called to me for more than two decades and has never stopped even when it was the tiniest, slightest of a whisper.
Even after working in several gratifying, career-defining jobs in higher education for nearly 20 years, it never stopped knocking on my door.
What’s even more cosmic is I can trace my desire to create and publish things back to when I was a little kid drawing, writing stories, and making up adventures for my stuffed animals (plushies or stuffies as the kids call them nowawdays) with my brother Steve.
Back then, I was a sticker fiend. Along with my friends, I collected tons of them, and doled them out sparingly on special letters and cards, treating them like the most valuable of commodities. I thought, how does one become a designer of stickers? It seemed like such a faraway dream job that I couldn’t even imagine it.
I was also incredibly fond of greeting cards and would draw and make many of my own. One card that I drew in fifth grade for a Mother’s Day contest won an award from Good Housekeeping magazine and was displayed in the Empire State Building. Again, I wondered, how does one become a card designer? When I found out that Hallmark was based in Kansas City, Missouri, my hopes for that job were dashed. (Growing up as a naive kid in Southern California, I could never imagine myself living and working in the Midwest. I mean, wasn’t that where Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz was from?)
Last but not least, I was enamored with books, especially illustrated middle-grade novels like Ramona the Pest, Stuart Little, Cricket in Times Square, Harriet the Spy, and Little House in the Big Woods. These books were my friends, my teachers, my salvation. Back then, I didn’t even allow my young mind to think about becoming an author. That dream was way, way too far away, too far for a kid like me growing up with immigrant parents who continually discouraged me from reading for pleasure, and gave harsh lectures on how dentistry was the only rightful job for someone like me.
I think maybe I was eight when I first started having thoughts like this?
Now, I’m 48.
40 years later and I’m launching Plaid Frog Press with an Etsy shop that includes…wait for it…an illustrated middle-grade novel, stickers, and soon, greeting cards.
Do dreams come true?
But first, you have to allow yourself to dream at all.
Help me with my dream. If you’re looking for a fun, suspenseful read this holiday season, or a gift for a favorite kid aged 8 to 108, check out The Contenders. And while you’re at, check out my awesome stickers too.