Self Publishing on Unwavering Faith

by | May 23, 2012

By Cali Gilbert

You’ll read below how I came to meet Cali at a local publisher’s meeting, but what’s way more impressive to me is the way Cali has persevered to publish the books of her dreams, and how that has had an amazing impact on her life. When we re-connected at a recent publishing event, I asked her to tell her story, and here it is.

My journey to self-publishing began in 2010 when I read Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles.

I was halfway through my Masters Program at the University of San Francisco when I had an epiphany. Reading Jack’s book made me realize I was living my life on automatic pilot. I was doing what I thought was expected of me instead of what my heart truly desired.

My passions in life had been writing and photography, yet I never pursued those avenues of interest. My area of expertise was Event Management and that is the path I followed.

In the autumn of 2010 I submitted a photograph for the Art of Peace Exhibit in conjunction with the Sausalito Art Festival. The piece was selected and exhibited for three weeks to rave reviews.

Following that event I was encouraged to follow my passion for photography. I wondered how I could combine both of my passions, photography and writing. The answer was to create a book that included both. I had some publishing experience because I had published a magazine in 1998, but not when it came to books. I soon began to research everything I could find online about self-publishing.

Making Connections

Through my local network I met first time authors who were happy to offer guidance. I was also introduced to the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA). That is where I first met Joel Friedlander.

I had put together a template for my first book of photographs and inspirational phrases that I wrote. I met with Joel in late 2010 and showed him the layout. He told me I didn’t need his assistance in book design, I just needed to get the book printed. I looked into options and decided to go with Although the result was pretty amazing, the cost was way too high and, as a result, the file sat on my computer for the next six months.

When I graduated with my degree in Sport Management I thought I was set. I had three college degrees, 20+ years of experience and a huge network. Unfortunately I was wrong.

I was hoping to find an executive position in the non-profit sector but was unsuccessful. I spent the majority of 2011 applying for any type of full-time position because I was rapidly running out of money. I could barely pay my rent let alone follow my passions. Something needed to change and soon it would.

Things Start to Change

In September, 2011 I received an email from Rich German, a colleague who had recently published his book, Monetize Your Passion. He invited me down to San Diego for the 21st Century Book Marketing Conference where he was scheduled to speak.

I really wanted to go but didn’t have any money. I knew however I needed to find a way to make it happen. As one who believes in the power of the universe, I knew if I was meant to be there, I would find a way.

Coincidently the conference was being hosted by Arielle Ford, an icon in the publishing industry. I had just heard Arielle speak on a teleseminar the week prior and she mentioned needing volunteers for events she hosted.

I immediately wrote her an email asking if I could help out. She said yes and put me in touch with her Event Manager. With the assistance of friends and renting out my parking spot, I managed to come up with enough money for the airline ticket and accommodations at a hostel.

In October I headed down to San Diego and spent three amazing days learning from the best. I made some amazing connections with fellow authors and came away with a font of knowledge. I was ready to take things to the next level.

The next three weeks were spent connecting online with those I had met at the conference and converting what I had learned into action steps. I dusted off the file of my first book, made slight changes from recommendations I had received, and self published the book on Amazon using CreateSpace.

Cali GilbertOn November 8, 2011 I officially published my first book. It’s Simply…Sausalito: An Inspirational Journey is an 82-page book containing my original photography and inspirational phrases highlighting the city of Sausalito, California from a resident’s point of view.

The Book Becomes a Reality

I will never forget the day I received the first copy in the mail.

Holding a book with your name on the cover is an incredible feeling, one every author should cherish. I wanted that feeling to last forever and as I promoted my first book, I began working on my second.

Cali GilbertIt was as if I had unleashed all the creative energy that was inside of me and needed to come out. On January 8, 2012 I released It’s Simply…GOLDEN: 75 Years of Inspiration. This book, which uses the same format as the first, celebrates the 75th Anniversary of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Sometimes we take for granted what is right in front of us. For me, living five minutes away from the Golden Gate has always felt like a blessing. Now I was able to show my appreciation through my work.

In February I attended the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, again as a volunteer. I had learned so much from the conference in San Diego, but there was more to learn and I was the eager pupil. The 3-day conference was another amazing experience.

I connected with Joel again as well as local agents and publishers. I was able to pitch my books and receive critical feedback. In the weeks that followed I again put what I learned into action.

As a result I landed my first radio interview and speaking engagement. I updated my social media presence and created an author’s page on Facebook –

One of the connections I made at the SF Writers Conference was Terry Nathan, Executive Director of Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). I asked him if I could volunteer at his conference which was being held in San Francisco in March. He of course said yes and I was excited to learn more.

When I attended IBPA Publishing University, I was promoting two books and working on my third and fourth simultaneously. Working with the crew from IBPA was a great experience. I learned so much from that conference and again took action.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

When I look back at the last two years, what comes to mind is unwavering faith.

I was forced to make a change in my life. I took that leap of faith into a world of the unknown. What I soon learned was that the moment I decided to follow my heart and what I was truly passionate about, the doors began to open. The right people, right situations came into my life. I didn’t know how it would all work out, but I didn’t need to. I just needed to set the intention for what I wanted, do my part, and allow the universe to handle the rest.

As someone who just two years ago had an idea for what I wanted to create, to now having published two books, I feel honored to offer guidance to those on the same journey.

I believe there are three crucial steps:

  1. Set the intention for what you want.
  2. Learn from those who are already doing what you want to do.
  3. Take ACTION!

If you don’t at least try, you will never know what you are truly capable of. Do your part and watch your life transform before you.

Cali GilbertTo learn more about Cali Gilbert’s work as a transformational author, award-winning photographer, and social entrepreneur, visit or connect with her on Twitter at @SerendipityPEM.

Blog header photo by baseertome. All Amazon links are affiliate links.

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  1. Mike Evan

    I’m just a newbie, I admit, and haven’t been at it that long. But I see within myself a tendency to lose faith and wonder what the heck I’m doing. A bit of inspiration like this from time to time is what keeps me going.

    Thanks for the story.

    • Cali

      You are certainly not alone Mike. There were times when the voices inside my head wondered what the heck I was doing as well. I just got to the point where I learned to ignore those and listen to the ones that said YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO!!! What I learned as well is to just take things one day at a time….but never give up on your dream.

  2. david

    I really like your story, Cali. You figured out a way to make it work and go for what you wanted to do. That’s truly awesome and you should fee good about it. Congratulations on your books as well! keep on going.

    • Cali

      Thanks so much David. It is a pretty amazing feeling to wake up every morning and know you get to do what you ABSOLUTELY LOVE!! I feel very blessed.

  3. Charles McCool

    Wonderful. Congratulations on your projects.

    Seems like these 3 powerful steps can apply to most tasks. Action, indeed, is the most important. It is the theme of Seth Godin’s book, Poke the Box, which focuses on starting/launching. You can make adjustments into the project.

    Anyway, best wishes!

    • Cali

      Absolutely Charles. It’s all about taking that first step. Many thanks.

  4. Turndog Millionaire

    Nice story. It’s really good when things click into place. A bit of faith and lots of hard work usually ends well :)

    Good luck with the future books. I hope it all goes well for you

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

    • Cali

      Thanks so much Matt. Cheers!

  5. carol brill

    Thanks for sharing your journey and for boiling it down to the 3 simple steps. carol

    • Cali

      Thanks Carol. All the Best!

  6. Ernie Zelinski

    Congratulations on your achievements.

    I love your three crucial steps:

    Set the intention for what you want.
    Learn from those who are already doing what you want to do.
    Take ACTION!

    You have said more here with those three crucial steps than many people say in 1,000 word blogs or 10,000 word ebooks about what it takes to be a success at writing and self-publishing.

    And I like how you empasized ACTION!

    A lot of people today believe that all they have to do is meditate or recite affirmations to attract success, prosperity, etc. into their lives. Part of the reason for this is the movie and the book “The Secret” and other books about “The Law of Attraction.”

    My favorite motivational speaker and seminar presenter is Brendon Burchard who also runs Experts Academy. From one of his books, here is Brendon’s take on “The Law of Attraction” and the book “The Secret”:

    “You have heard about and probably read the book
    or seen the movie, “The Secret”. It’s actually a
    good book; the message is to send out good intentions
    into the world for what you want. However, even the stars
    [in the book] warned about the missing pieces of the message.”

    “The real secret to success [and prosperity] requires working hard, but that is never mentioned in the book “The Secret”. I believe “The Secret” is just another in a long line of self-help books that hypnotized our culture into leading lives through a mantra of “ask and you shall receive.”

    You may want to watch this video of Brian Tracy speaking at Brendon’s Empire Mastermind group (which costs $15,000 to join) in San Diego and Brian also mentioning how “The Secret” never ever mentioned the word “work”.

    Adding to Brendon’s and Brian’s take on “The Secret” and “The Law of Attraction”, here is a passage from one of my new books.

    “You can visualize all you want.
    You can analyze all you want.
    You can plan all you want.
    You can meditate all you want.
    You can organize all you want.
    You can read “The Secret” all you want.
    You can recite affirmations all you want.
    You can talk all you want.
    Unless you take positive, spirited action, however, all of the above are wasted energy and will not help make your dreams a reality.”
    — from “Life’s Secret Handbook (Reminders for Adventurous Souls Who Want to Make a Big Difference in This World)”

    Unfortunately, many people will read your post and still not realize how much inspired effort you put in to get to where you are today.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author and Independent Publisher
    (Over 725,000 copies of his books sold worldwide)
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 150,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)

    • Cali

      Thanks Ernie. I certainly agree with you. I first connected with Brendon Burchard last year when he released the Millionaire Messenger. I love how he incorporates the non-profit sector into his business and gives back. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at the 21st Century Book Marketing event in October and was truly moved by his passion to serve others. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. I just picked up his latest book, The Charge and excited about reading it as well.

      I truly feel it’s a combination of many things in obtaining success and the life of your dreams. I incorporate gratitude, meditation, healthy living, setting intensions, and ACTION into my daily life. It’s the complete package.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Very well said, thanks for that Ernie. I’ve heard Brendan speak and he is even more impressive in person. Although visualization of your goals is a powerful tool, it seems to work best when the visualization inspires you to act and at the same time conditions you to believe you can achieve what you’ve set out to do. That’s a great combination.

      • Ernie Zelinski

        Cali and Joel:

        Yes, I agree that Brendon is much more impressive when you see him in person. I have had the pleasure of meeting Brendon and hearing him speak two times at the Author101University events and once for three days at his Partnership Seminar in Redwood City. I even managed to get a bonus half-hour coaching session with him.

        Here is a quote that I am placing one of my new books called “Life’s Secret Handbook of Daily Spiritual Quotations:

        “I believe that coming from a place of
        service is not only a strong spiritual
        practice but a good business practice.
        If you can care about helping others,
        then they will believe in you.”
        — Brendon Burchard


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