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.
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 Blurb.com. 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.
On 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.
It 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 – www.facebook.com/CaliGilbert.
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:
- Set the intention for what you want.
- Learn from those who are already doing what you want to do.
- 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.
To learn more about Cali Gilbert’s work as a transformational author, award-winning photographer, and social entrepreneur, visit www.CaliGilbert.com or connect with her on Twitter at @SerendipityPEM.
Blog header photo by baseertome. All Amazon links are affiliate links.