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## Self-Publishing My Baseball Mystery Series: A Journey from Random House to Independence

In the realm of publishing, my journey took an unexpected turn from computer science and technology marketing to the enthralling world of baseball mysteries for children. Fueled by my passion for the sport and the adventures my two young sons craved, I embarked on a quest to create the Ballpark Mysteries series, a captivating collection of chapter books set in different Major League Baseball stadiums.

With unwavering determination, I pursued my dream of becoming a traditionally published author, culminating in the triumphant sale of my first manuscript, “The Fenway Foul-Up,” to the esteemed Random House. This marked the auspicious beginning of the Ballpark Mysteries series, a literary journey that would span a decade and captivate readers with its thrilling tales of mystery and baseball lore.

### A Decade of Collaboration and Creative Fulfillment

The partnership with Random House proved invaluable, providing me with a wealth of editorial expertise and the infrastructure to navigate the complexities of publishing. The Random House team meticulously handled copyediting, bookselling, and distribution, allowing me to focus solely on the creative aspect of writing, pouring my heart and soul into crafting compelling stories that would ignite imaginations and transport young readers to the heart of America’s beloved pastime.

However, as time went on, I became increasingly aware of certain limitations inherent in traditional publishing. Marketing and sales strategies remained largely opaque, opportunities for investment in the series were constrained, and any proposed changes to the format were discouraged in favor of maintaining consistency. While I deeply appreciated the guidance and support of Random House, I felt an undeniable pull towards greater creative control and the freedom to explore new possibilities for the series.

### A Heartbreaking Farewell and the Birth of a New Chapter

In 2020, Random House made the difficult decision to discontinue the Ballpark Mysteries series after 22 successful titles and over a million books sold. This news was a devastating blow, not only because I believed wholeheartedly in the series’ potential, but also because I had a treasure trove of untold stories waiting to be unleashed, 12 more ballparks yearning for their literary moment, and a loyal fan base eagerly anticipating more adventures.

Yet, amidst the disappointment, a flicker of determination ignited within me. I refused to let the series fade into obscurity. With newfound resolve, I embarked on a bold journey into the uncharted waters of self-publishing, determined to continue the Ballpark Mysteries legacy and bring my readers to even more ballparks, one thrilling mystery at a time.

### Embracing the Challenge of Self-Publishing: A Leap of Faith

The decision to self-publish was not undertaken lightly. Despite my decade-long experience as a published author, the prospect of handling every aspect of the publishing process, from editing and formatting to marketing and distribution, was daunting. However, I was unwavering in my belief in the series and my ability to navigate the challenges ahead.

I adopted a bottom-up approach, focusing initially on crafting a compelling mystery that would capture the imagination of young readers. I visited Citi Field, immersing myself in the atmosphere, the sights, and the sounds of a baseball game, gathering inspiration for “The Black Cat Change-Up,” a story centered around a haunting incident from a 1969 game.

### Maintaining Quality: A Commitment to Excellence

While embracing the freedom and independence of self-publishing, I remained steadfast in my commitment to maintaining the high standards of the Ballpark Mysteries series. I reconnected with my original series editor, whose invaluable expertise sharpened the mystery, enhanced the emotional depth of the story, and eliminated any repetitive phrases or grammatical errors that might detract from the reader’s enjoyment. Additionally, I hired a freelance copy editor to ensure the highest level of polish and adherence to the series’ established style and tone.

### Licensing the Ballpark Mysteries Logo: A Win-Win Collaboration

Despite parting ways with Random House, I was grateful for their generosity in allowing me to license the Ballpark Mysteries cover logo. This mutually beneficial arrangement enabled Random House to maintain the series’ brand identity while allowing me to reach the readers who had come to love the books and eagerly awaited the next installment.

### Modernizing the Artwork: Enhancing the Visual Experience

While preserving the essence of the series was paramount, I also saw this as an opportunity to refresh and modernize the artwork. I collaborated with Mark Meyers, the original illustrator of the Ballpark Mysteries, to create a more dynamic and contemporary art style for both the interior illustrations and the cover. This visual evolution breathed new life into the series, capturing the attention of young readers and enhancing their overall reading experience.

### The Importance of Design: Creating a Consistent and Streamlined Format

Designing the book proved to be a significant challenge. After exploring various layout programs, I realized the need for a professional designer to replicate the existing book format and ensure a seamless transition for readers accustomed to the Random House editions. Through Upwork, I found Oliver Nash, a skilled designer who excelled in reverse-engineering the original books and creating a new template for the series in Affinity Publisher. His meticulous attention to detail ensured that the self-published books maintained the same high-quality look and feel as their predecessors.

### The Time-Consuming Reality of Self-Publishing: A Labor of Love

Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing required a substantial investment of time in proofing, copyediting, and finalizing the book at each stage. The publishing process itself was equally demanding, involving multiple versions (paperback, hardcover, audiobook, and e-book) and various design requirements across different publishing platforms. Despite the challenges, I embraced this newfound responsibility with enthusiasm, pouring countless hours into every aspect of the process to ensure the highest quality for my readers.

### The Financial Rewards: Achieving Profitability

Despite the initial investment of time and resources, the release of “The Black Cat Change-Up” in November 2022 was met with resounding success. Within two months, the book had sold well during the holiday season, recouping one-third of the costs (excluding my time and writing). The book is on track to become profitable later in 2023, demonstrating the viability of self-publishing as a sustainable

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