A new book is always interesting news, but it is especially exciting when it is from one of “our own.” Open Adoption Blogger Rachel Garlinghouse, of White Sugar Brown Sugar just published Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children.
I asked Rachel a few questions about her process of writing and publishing her book. Not only did she graciously take the time to answer, she offered to give away a copy to one of you! Read through her interview, then be sure to enter to win Come Rain or Come Shine at the end of the post.
Tell us about your book!
Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children is a conversational, honest, and inspirational guide. Chapter topics include choosing transracial adoption, dealing with racism and adoptism, racially supporting your black child, talking to children about adoption and race, dealing with resistant relatives and friends, hair and skin care, and so much more! Each chapter includes expert advice (from authors like Sherrie Eldridge, Elisabeth O’Toole, Deborah Gray, Adam Pertman, and many, many more), questions and answers, true stories from the media, discussion questions, resources, and practical application exercises.
What made you decide to write a book about adoption?
There were very few books on transracial adoption, specifically white parents adopting black babies. And most guides available were outdated and filled with old-school thinking. There was clearly a hole in the market, and I’m filling it with my book!
My book is different than any other transracial adoption book out there for a few reasons. One, it’s what I consider a “coffee with a friend” book. It’s conversational, honest, and you walk away feeling inspired and educated. Two, the book covers a wide array of topics, and I don’t shy away from answering the tough questions. Finally, my book offers many, many resources (extensive lists) so the reader can continue his or her adoption education. I’m all for promoting other authors!
Any surprises during the writing process?
It was much harder than I had anticipated. There were days when my eyes were burning and my legs numb from sitting at my desk for so long. Papers and books were strewn all around me. I KNEW I had to write this book, and I wanted to, but it was very difficult to stay inspired every single day while being a wife, mother of three little kids, teaching college English part-time, writing magazine articles, blogging, running an adoptive mom support group, and keeping up with household chores and errands.
On the other hand, all the hard work really paid off. I’m very proud of this book. I know I have written something that is going to change people’s lives! I’ve been asked for years when I’m going to write a book; adoptive parents need support, education, and inspiration.
How did you make the decision about self-publishing vs. working with a traditional publisher?
Traditional publishing is quite challenging in that if a writer gets selected to be published (which getting selected is a tough process), the publisher holds most of the power. They pick your book cover, they can edit your content to fit their vision for the book, they set the book’s price—-everything. I had started with a traditional publisher, and he and I mutually pulled out of the deal because he wanted me to make so many changes to the content that was clearly not part of my vision.
Self-publishing is only for someone who is not only a great writer, but also someone who is disciplined and determined. I chose my graphic designer. I chose the interior font. I chose the content and what I would and wouldn’t revise. The responsibility of the book falls on me, and that is one big job! Self-publishing costs the author money up front.
Because of my personality (very type-A) and my vision for the book, self-publishing was clearly the best option.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing an adoption book?
Do your research. Many writers think they have a great idea only to find out it’s already been done. However, there’s always room for more adoption books, but only if you can bring something new to the table. Sadly, many adoption books are from ten or twenty or more years ago and the information is historical, not relevant, to today’s adoptive parent.
Writing is typically not a glam job. I spent many days in my pjs, my hair a mess, typing furiously, gulping lukewarm tea, and rubbing my tired eyes. Books rarely make a writer rich. The reward is in the feedback you receive when your audience reads your work and lives are changed.
Start small. Do people read your blog? How many people? Are you active and vocal in the adoption community? Do people know your name? Have you written any articles for local or national publications? Get some experience in the writing and publishing world. Because to produce an attractive, informative, effective book, you need to be really, really good at writing, public relations, and communication.
Overall, you must be committed, “come rain or come shine,” to your book. Even if a traditional publisher takes on your project, most authors are primarily responsible for making their book known to the target audience. If you don’t believe in your book, no one else will. So if you choose to write a book, proceed with determination and passion, knowing that you’ve done your research, you know you are qualified and capable of writing a great book, and the world needs to hear what you have to say!