When I started this blog in February 2013, I felt called to write a book but I didn’t know where to start. I did not want to be a writer who did not write, so I used the blog as a way of becoming comfortable getting my writing out into the world. With my background in engineering and business, this was a whole new world for me.
I wanted to share Zen and Taoist influences that have helped me find peace with the hope that these insights might inspire others. What I found is that the writing helped me to crystalize my beliefs. My writing became an exploration into my own heart and mind. And I’ve had so many moments of magic after writing a post that have made my heart smile. I was discovering my self. It continues to be a beautiful journey.
Now I must tell you that I started and stopped many books along the way! I would feverishly write pages one day and look it the next and say to myself no way. Haha This typically happened if the writing felt preachy or prescriptive. Though I am sometimes very direct on this website, that was not what I imagined for the book. I wanted it to be an experience that the reader would dictate.
I stayed patient with myself because I knew the book would come to me when it was ready. I will say that I had a feeling before my trip to Asia in March that the time was nearing. I remember telling my lovely mother that I’d be writing a book during that trip. She so kindly (as always) suggested that I not put any pressure on myself and enjoy the trip. Haha Definitely great advice.
However, when I was standing under the cherry blossom tree in Tokyo, something clicked. I realized that discovery is always about the questions.
From that point on, I channeled questions for the rest of my trip. After a full day of meetings, I would take meditative reflection time and find myself writing questions. I could not stop what was happening. And I didn’t try to.
At the end of my trip, I took a personal weekend in Bali to decompress. Because of the Nyepi holiday, I was forced to spend a day inside. It was a glorious day and I spent every moment finding the perfect font and typing up what would later become my first draft.
My vision of the book was clear but not complete. I knew I wanted color and energy, but I had to admit that I needed design help. Divine guidance led me to my amazing designers (more about my Dream Team here). They patiently walked with me through the process of uncovering the complete vision. And they worked with me to make more adjustments that I ever thought I’d need. The end design was so beautiful that it still takes my breath away.
What’s also interesting about my journey is that I never considered trying to find a publisher. I had no interest in trying to gain acceptance for my book or opening the door to potential creative differences in the design and presentation of the book. So in early April, I started my own publishing company (ZENTAO BOOKS).
There were many decisions to make along the way about formatting and printing the book. I’d originally planned to have the book distributed just-in-time through print-on-demand. It was not until I was sitting with Dillon (designer) completing the work and figuring out how to upload to the print-on-demand profile that I realized they were unable to support the larger size I’d selected. I remember Dillon kindly saying that he’d re-format the book to a smaller size, but I was clear that the size we had was right. Thus began the search for a printer.
I was say that printing hardcover books in a self-published operation is probably the most expensive approach haha. I started the search in earnest around June, and I searched locally before I realized that I had to get the book printed abroad to get the quality I wanted at a price that would allow me to sell it at a reasonable price. To give you a frame of reference, one domestic printer actually told me it would cost $100/book to print the hardcover book with dust jacket and full color pages! Unreal.
Looking for a printer abroad is difficult. There are a million choices and no way to really know if they are legitimate. I sent out three requests for proposals from companies that seemed sort of legitimate. Honestly, the process was kind of random. Haha. Two printers were in China and one was in Hong Kong. Of the two printers in China, one didn’t respond and the other said my volumes were too low. Even when I said I’d consider larger volumes, the company wasn’t interested. Those two kind of eliminated themselves. The printer in Hong Kong responded with very detailed questions and an openness to explore various volumes. I honestly felt more comfortable with a Hong Kong printer because I’ve been there so many times and knew the business contracts would be more Westernized and familiar.
I soon came to feel that being led to Regal Printing in Hong Kong was another moment of Divine guidance. I corresponded with the wonderful owner, Maurice, over many weeks and he was always prompt in answering all of my questions. We talked several times on the phone and I always found him to be beyond polite and very gracious and helpful. I knew early on that I’d found my printer.
Please allow me to freely admit that one of the biggest leaps of faith in this journey was to send very large checks and wire transfers in the hopes that I’d receive my books from Hong Kong! haha I am so thankful that Maurice never let me down. He even helped me to achieve my vision of a ‘green’ book that was printed on FSC certified sustainable paper with soy ink! These features would have been completely unaffordable stateside. And I find that to be so unfortunate.
Nonetheless, I had so many wheels in motion at one point that managing my energy level was becoming impossible. I was somehow working a full time job with a lot of travel, and spending almost all of my personal time trying to make sure I had covered everything. Completing one step only meant it was time for the next.
Again, I was fortunate when it came time to select a Customs Broker to get the books here! S&H Customs Broker was literally the only company in the area that answered the phone when I called haha. They were automatically hired after they provided me with pricing that I felt was reasonable to get the books through customs and deliver them to my storage. (And then of course there was the process of finding storage! haha)
I could go on and on with the steps required to make this book a reality, but I wanted to give you a flavor of the journey. It is a miracle that I received the shipment of books almost six months (to the day!) after completing it in Bali!
I felt a sense of urgency about completing this book that I cannot explain. I never felt that I really had a choice about it. Getting the book out into the world was something I felt I had to do.
In addition to all of the lessons I learn about designing and publishing a book, I was recently reminded of an important Taoist teaching by my friend and healer Dr. Baolin Wu (also a Taoist monk). Dr. Wu reminded me that it is the way of the Tao that we often lose something when we gain something new.
The intense process of publishing this book in such a short time frame required a lot of focus. I had to strip away a lot of projects and competing interests to make space for this creation. And many other things fell away on their own. I was reminded over and over again that God’s timing is perfect. And I had to continue to remind myself to relax.
Now that the books are here, there are many more steps I have to take. There are book signings (the first is October 17th!) and all sorts of other projects to make sure the book is discoverable.
I have so many people to thank for their support and encouragement throughout the process! From dropping off drafts to my designers when I had to travel to helping me unload books and placing early orders, friends continue to show up in beautiful ways. I am so thankful!
Meditative Questions is a book I am very proud of. I feel that the questions eliminate the fluff of explanation and allow the reader to explore their own beliefs through thought provoking inquiries. It is a different sort of book, and one that will change as you change. I am so delighted to present it to you and hope that you will consider heading over to zentaobooks.com to learn more. I’m also offering the option of autographing your book with a personalized note ;)
Thank you for your support! And I look forward to sharing more of the journey with you :)